Monday, March 21, 2011

Conquering my fear of frying

Before we got together, my hubby's standard "breakfast" was a couple of doughnuts and a can of Pepsi. Happily, it didn't take me long to exert my influence...within a couple of months of spending mornings with me, he'd gotten accustomed to a healthy breakfast first thing and his students would complain that he was crabby if he skipped it.

It's not just doughnuts; many of my hubby's favorite foods are deep-fried.

This is one area where we are just not compatible. I do not like eating fried foods, but more than that, I hate hate hate the smell of deep fried cooking. The smell of oil frying just pervades every surface, every scrap of cloth, every inch of a house. {shudder}

As I started cooking more over the past couple of years, I tried a lot of things I never thought I would. I'm someone who spent most of her life unable to look at a piece of meat with bones in it, unable to deal with the smell of peppers or anything spicy, unable to stomach the look or taste of red meat. I can now easily rip the insides out of a Thanksgiving turkey, can cook and cut bone-in chicken, can whip up a Sunday potroast with my eyes closed, can slice and dice a dozen jalapenos. But I told my hubby: even with my expanded food horizons, don't ever expect me to fry anything in my house!

Even so, when Di posted a recipe for doughnuts nearly a year ago, I bookmarked it. My hubby loves doughnuts, and I love being able to make his favorite things. I looked at the recipe periodically, but just could not bring myself to try it. I hate the smell of frying foods!

And then, a couple of months ago, Cooks Country had a recipe for homemade apple fritters. My hubby and my dad love apple fritters. And I just had to try it. So I bought a bottle of peanut oil, bought a candy/deep fry thermometer, dragged out my cast iron dutch oven, and gave it a try.

My hubby was thrilled that I deep fried, and he loved these apple fritters. I have to admit that even I ate a few bites the day I made them. My kiddos didn't really like them, and my dad said they were way too greasy. Success? So-so.

I went back to Di's recipe. I knew that Andrea was also nervous about deep frying, but had had success following Di.

So I bought a gigantic tin of crisco (I'd remembered reading a post from America's Test Kitchen that solid vegetable shortening was the best vehicle for frying doughnuts, although when I went back to confirm, I couldn't find where I'd read it) and whipped up a batch of all-purpose sweet dough from Peter Reinhart's Artisan Breads Every Day. You're supposed to let the dough rise overnight, but I made it first thing in the morning, and when we returned home in the afternoon, the dough had already more than doubled, so I pulled it out.

I grabbed about 440 g of dough and rolled it out to about 1/2 inch. I used my 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter to cut out circles. Unfortunately I don't have a tiny cutter for the centers, so I actually used the wide end of my turkey baster. I ended up with 10 doughnuts and about 15 doughnut holes. I let them rise on a parchment-lined sheet pan for a little over an hour until they were getting puffy.

Then I dumped 6 cups of crisco (gross!) into a pot and heated it over medium to 375F. I cooked them for 45 seconds per side, and only did a few at a time so I could carefully monitor the temperature and keep it right at 375. I removed the cooked doughnuts to a paper towel-lined cooling rack, and then coated half in a cinnamon sugar mixture (3 tbps white sugar with 3/4 tsp Vietnamese cinnamon) and dunked the other half into a chocolate glaze (1 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate chips mixed melted with 2 tbsp of half-and-half, a drop of light corn syrup, and a little over 1 cup of powdered sugar, sifted).

The 15 doughnut holes were completely gone by the time I'd finished dipping and glazing the whole doughnuts (and by the time I got the camera working).

Hubby said he considered it a sign of personal growth that there were four doughnuts left when we went to bed last night.

These were so good, not greasy at all. The little guy loved the cinnamon sugar ones and single-handedly ate an entire one for breakfast this morning. (Breakfast was with Daddy; I never would've let him eat an entire doughnut!) The little girl loved the chocolate-covered ones, especially the little holes that I remembered to dip in sprinkles just for her. Here's a chocolate-loving face:


  1. Reid's family makes donuts every year for Christmas and we have almost made them ourselves a few times, but never have. After reading your post, I really want to try. BUT, he gave up fried food for Lent!!! So, I guess this will have to wait until after Easter :-)

  2. I've been so good--I actually haven't made doughnuts since that post. But now I really want to. =) I'm glad that the recipe worked well for you!

  3. I'm afraid of frying too! Though I do so crave making apple cider donuts. If you can do it, if Andrea can do it...I'm going to have to get up the nerve! I know there would be no complaints in this house either if I did. What do you do with the leftover fat? Being crisco, do you let it harden back to room temperature and then trash it?

    Maybe I have some deeply ingrained issues with deep fat frying as a result of my high school job at Chick-fil-A!

  4. Sara, I was concerned about the extra fat, too. That was one of the things that made me reluctant to fry. I don't like to make very much (most fried foods are only good the day-of), and I hate wasting sooooo much oil. But I read that you can strain it and save it, so that's what I did. We'll see if it works again! =) Funny about your frying hubby LOVES everything deep fat fried, and credits *his* high school job at a fried chicken place! =)

  5. Wow! Deep frying at home. You are a brave woman. I don't think I could ever do that, too much fear of the oil spilling, though I've never spilled anything else in the kitchen.

    But still, I've also been looking at deep frying only because you can't get a decent Apple Fritter in Germany, and I love my apple fritters!

  6. Wow, those doughnuts look awesome! I might have to make some again soon. I made some last fall for the first time with some no-knead dough. I hate the smell that gets into clothes too, from frying, but here at home it wasn't bad. I used peanut oil and did strain mine to reuse again. I read you shouldn't reuse it very many times though. The quality of the oil degrades and the smoke point drops every time you reuse it, so it's not safe to reuse it indefintely.

  7. Good job! I, too, hate the smell of fried goods, but the donuts were worth it!

  8. Oh my gosh those apple fritters look good!

  9. Those doughnuts looks just beautiful and I bet they tasted fabulous. What a thrill to have homemade doughnuts... chocolate, sprinkles. yum! Congratulations on being so brave Abby!

  10. I agree with the oil smelling saturated house...I wish I had one of those special restaurant style hoods over my stove that captures the smells. You are right about the Crisco for frying doughnuts; everything else is peanut oil, but I use Canola for the price and transfats. Straining through a large coffee filter is worth it, but it takes for...e...ver. You can re-use strained oil up to 10 times if frying breads and potatoes, but less for meats and even less for strong foods, such as onions and fish.

  11. The new ATK cookbook that you bought me says there's a new version of Crisco that eliminates some of the transfats and works almost as well as the old version. Transfats give baked goods the textures we've all come to love, but they are dangerous, so ATK says use the new kind.

  12. You totally had me.... until the 6 cups of crisco. Maybe I'll just keep buying my own doughnuts.