When I found my mother’s recipe for drop doughnuts in her recipe box, I was tempted to publish it on “Courage In The Kitchen” exactly as Mom wrote it down. I thought that readers might enjoy seeing how good cooks shared recipes when I was growing up. The recipe consists of a list of ingredients but no instructions for putting them together.
This minimalist format is rather common for recipes written by experienced cooks from that period. It’s as if they were sharing their recipe with a friend who they knew was a also a good cook. The assumption seems to have been, “If you don’t know how to mix up doughnuts, you shouldn’t be trying to make doughnuts like mine.”
Having been cooking for quite a few years and with the added advantage of remembering how my mother mixed various dough batters, I have provided some guidance that results in pretty good drop doughnuts. Drop doughnuts are a kind of doughnut hole. You make them like you do hush puppies—drop tablespoonfuls of dough into hot oil and cook the doughnuts until they are golden brown and done.
They are particularly easy and fast to make, which may explain why Mom made them so often.
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
2 large eggs
2 T shortening
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla
Oil for frying
Sugar and cinnamon for dusting the doughnuts
Put the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, nutmeg and cinnamon together in a sifter. Put at least an inch of high temperature cooking oil into a saucepan and begin warming it over moderate heat.
Melt two tablespoons of shortening or lard in a small pan over low heat or microwave the shortening in a small bowl. While the shortening is melting, beat two eggs in a mixing bowl until they are lemon colored. Whisk the milk, vanilla and melted shortening into the eggs. Sift the flour mixture by thirds into the liquid, stirring well between each addition. You should end up with a stiff but moist batter.
When a candy or deep fry thermometer shows that the oil has reached a temperature of 370º, drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the oil. Since the batter cools the oil, don’t fry more than six or seven doughnuts at a time in an eight inch saucepan. Turn the doughnuts so they cook evenly and drain them on paper towels.
Put a quarter cup of white sugar and a half teaspoon of cinnamon in a clean paper bag. Close and shake the bag to mix the sugar and spice, then sugar the warm doughnuts and put them on a platter or plate that you can keep your eye on as you continue frying more doughnuts. Failure to take this precaution can result in a severe shortage of doughnuts, especially if there are hungry people in the house.
NOTES: Canola or corn oil both work fine for frying drop doughnuts, but my mother often used lard, which works well too. Not all people like sugar and cinnamon on their doughnuts. Omit that step if you prefer.