Monday, December 05, 2005

Making Doughnuts

Every year after we decorate the Christmas tree, I make piles of sugary doughnuts using my grandma's recipe. I always let the kids eat as much as they want to, the same way my grandma used to do with me.

She died a few months back, at age 100. All of my memories of her involve her spending time with me. Teaching me to crochet, sitting on the front porch together in the evenings, listening to old-time radio programs together while snuggled up in her bed at night. As far as I know, my grandma never drove a car or worked a paying job, but she was skilled at letting me know how much she loved me. I have never had to wonder how she felt about me. Her actions consistently pointed to what was most valuable to her: her family.

Making doughnuts this year, while laced with the bittersweet, was a reminder of how much I learned from my grandma how much of her lives on in me. I will always remember that the best way to demonstrate my priorities is not through words, but through actions, how I spend my time. The old adage remains true: Actions speak louder than words.

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control."
Galatians 5:22

My husband: Mr. Sugar Lips!

Here is the recipe:

3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (4 1/2 tsp.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Oil for frying (I use vegetable oil but you can use Crisco)

Mix 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, yeast and salt in large mixing bowl. Set aside. Combine milk and shortening in small saucepan. Cook over moderate heat until very warm (120 degrees to 130 degrees). Add to flour mixture. Add eggs. Beat with electric mixer at low speed 1 minute, scraping bowl constantly. Beat at medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occcasionally. Stir in enough flour to make a soft dough.

Knead dough on lightly floured surface 5 to 8 minutes, or until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as needed (dough will be slightly sticky). Place in a lightly oiled mixing bowl. Turm dough over to coat both sides with oil. Cover; let rise in warm place 40 to 50 minutes, or until doubled.

Oil baking sheet. Set aside. Punch down dough. Place on lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half. Roll each half to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2 inch rounds with a doughnut cutter. Place doughnuts and holes on prepared baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm place about 30 minutes, or until doubled.

Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a large pan (I use a cast-iron skillet) to 375 degrees. Fry doughnuts for 1-2 minutes each side, or until golden brown. Place them on paper towels or cooling racks.

Put 1/2 cup of sugar into a Ziploc bag and shake donuts in sugar (while the doughnuts are still warm) until coated. You can also use powdered sugar---which turns into an icing while they are hot.