An important distinction:Because I sew my two little charge's Halloween costumes, I feel I have left my readers with the mistaken notion that I am an accomplished seamstress. Nothing could be further from the truth. There's a reason why I almost only sew Halloween costumes. My costumes look unmistakably homemade. (Photographic evidence coming later this week.) There's a certain kitschy charm to a less than perfect looking costume, made by a frazzled mum too frugal for Disney store prices. For this reason I cannot sew clothing for every day useage. Those uneven hems and lopslided sleeves, so endearing on October 31st, look like something out of the Grapes or Wrath every other day of the year. And while I'm a not much better than mediocre seamstress, I confess to another talent: I am pretty good at making donuts.
No, that's not quite true. I really am quite good at making homemade donuts. I ought to be; I've been on a decade long quest to get it just right. I'm a firm believer that donuts should be a once-a-year, Halloween season kind of treat. (Now watch me eat my words with maple glaze on top.) This year, I invited my parents over for homemade donuts and wild hijinks, compliments the two charges. My mother, a notoriously particular and highly proficient cook, was smitten immediately. So the very next night, she got together with a neighbor and made my donut recipe, dropping off a batch of fresh hot donut holes at our house. And two nights later, my brother and his five charges and wife were passing through town and my mother convinced me to make them yet again! Oh, sweet deep-fried mama! So even though in word I recommend making them once a year around Halloween, please don't blame me if you end up making them three times in the next four days. Perhaps you will discover a hidden talent for donut making yourself. It's easier than sewing new clothes, ahem, which I might have to do if I don't stop making donuts soon.
Money Saving Tips: Homemade donuts are pretty inexpensive, especially if you only use an inch of oil, like I do. You can save the oil, strain it and reuse it for frying later-if you can stand to live so dangerously. Leftover mashed potatoes are handy here too. Donuts do not keep well, so drop off to the neighbors whatever you won't be eating.
Maple Glazed Buttermilk Donuts, adapted from my friend Kristen:
Estimated Cost: $4.00 for 1 dozen donuts and loads of donut holes
Notes: Follow the directions carefully for best results. Be extra careful not to add too much flour. Sticky dough makes for velvety donuts. This is one case that I use instant mashed potatoes for their smoothness and convenience. Maple extract makes the glaze extra special.
2/3 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 cup mashed potatoes (I use 1 cup boiling water and 1/2 cup instant mashed potato flakes or buds)
4 and 1/2 cups flour, DIVIDED
2 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg (two quick shakes)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs until frothy. Add sugar and beat well. Add buttermilk butter, vanilla. Stir in mashed potaotes. Sprinkle exactly 3 and 1/2 cups flour, plus powder, soda, salt and nutmeg over the dough. Stir until just blended. The dough will be extremely sticky. Line a dinner plate with waxed paper. Sprinkle 1/2 cup flour on top of abouwaxed paper. Gather sticky dough up and press onto waxed paper; sprinkle the top with remaining 1/2 cup flour. If you need to patt atop a little more flour to be able to work with the dough, go ahead and sprinkle/pat it on top but DO NOT mix it in. ( You can refrigerate dough for a couple of hours at this point if you want, but not for too long or the dough will turn black from the potatoes.) Let the dough rest on the plate for five minutes. Meanwile, heat large heavy pot with 1 inch of oil until oil is about 375 degrees. Turn donuts out onto flat floured surface. Pat the dough into a square only slightly larger than the plate. The dough should be about 1/2 inch thick. (Do not knead in the flour that have you sprinkled on the donuts. It will cook away on the outside, promise.) Cut donuts with donut cutter, or use the top of a prescription pill bottle for donut holes. Holes are the best in my opinion. Fry donuts until pale golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Cool for five minutes before glazing.
Notes: This makes enough for half a batch of donuts, in case you want to make some powdered sugar donuts or plain sugar.
Combine 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons maple extract and about 4 tablespoons cream (or milk) until smooth.
More Edible Evil
Halloween Chocolate Cupcakes