There are some things that just scream fall to me, and pumpkin is one of them. Unfortunately, I don’t like pumpkin. Or so I thought. Then I had pumpkin donuts years and years ago and discovered that I like pumpkin, but just in very certain ways. Like in pumpkin donuts.
I love making them, but they make a ton of donuts, so this is a recipe I make to share. I try to do it every fall, but I don’t always succeed. This year, I had to bring something for the fall appreciation luncheon. After volunteering to make an apple crisp (easy peasy!) and being shot down because someone was already making one – drat! – I decided to do the pumpkin donuts. This is a make it the morning you’re going to eat them recipe, and it takes some time because you have to roll them and fry them in batches, but ohhhhh is it worth it. Not hard. Just a little time.
3 1/2 c flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1 c sugar
1 T baking powder
2 egg yolks
3 T butter (I used dairy free butter substitute, and it absolutely works!)
1/2 c pumpkin puree*
2/3 c butter milk (yes, I used coconut milk mixed thickened with mayonaise and it was perfect)
oil for frying
Mix the dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder but not the sugar – in a large bowl until well distributed.
Start heating your oil for frying. You want the oil to come to 365-375 degrees. Use a fryer or a wide cast iron skillet with about two inches of oil for frying. If you’re me, you won’t measure the tempterature because you don’t have a thermometer that does that and instead can use a dough ball to test it. Drop it in, and if it has small bubbles frothing around it, it’s ready. If not, wait until it’s hotter. Yes, I am that scientific when baking. Just wait to the end of this to see what my asterisk was for.
Cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and egg yolks one at a time and beat until well blended. Add the pumpkin puree and the butter milk and mix until blended, then pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.
Thoroughly flour a surface for rolling the dough. Grab a hunk – no larger than your hand – and use some of the flour to dust the top, too. Roll it into a snake about one-half inch thick, then cut it into pieces about a half inch long to make the individual donuts that are vaguely pillow shaped. Pick up the cut donuts and jiggle them in your hand to remove as much of the flour as possible and soften the edges.
Place the tester donut into the oil to ensure the oil is hot enough. Assuming it is, place no more than eight or ten donuts into the pot at a time. This will both keep the temperature of the oil from dipping too low and from crowding the pot and having the donuts stick together. Let them cook a minute or two on one side, then poke the side of them with a chopstick or the side of a spider to flip them. The other side will generally cook quicker, maybe 45 seconds to a minute.
Remove the fully cooked donuts to a paper towel lined plate to cool slightly before rolling in cinnamon sugar (1 c sugar to 4 t cinnamon). I will cut a batch or two, then start frying. While they’re frying on the first side, I’ll cut some more donuts. After I’ve flipped the donuts, I’ll quickly roll the cooling donuts in the cinnamon sugar and put them on my final plate so that I always have a piece of the process moving forward. It works pretty well in terms of timing and helps speed the process, too.
This makes a lot of donuts, so be prepared to share. Or keep them all for yourself, as I’m tempted to. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
*Or you can be like me and be rushing and not paying attention and put the entire can of pumpkin puree into the donuts. Note that I said pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling. Those are two very different things, and you want the pure pumpkin. If you make this mistake, it’s fixable. Add another cup of flour and teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients, along with a quarter cup sugar and a little nutmeg and baking powder (1/2 t). It will then make more donuts, but really… at this point, that’s not a bad thing. And yes, it’s possible that I’ve made this mistake more than once, but no one knows by the time they’re done!
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