When I was in middle school, my dad used to drive me to St. Ursula Villa School in Cincinnati every morning before he turned around and went to work in Northern Kentucky. Sometimes, on Fridays, we would leave home a little early and stop by Remke’s, our local grocery store, to pick up fresh donuts on our way to school.
This early-morning Friday pit stop was my dad’s way of saying: We made it through the workweek, and we deserve a treat. In my mind, donuts, my dad, and well-deserved rewards will always go hand in hand.
Even today, if you talk to my dad about those Friday morning donut runs, he’ll tell you how I would eat each donut with overwhelming joy, and use my fingers to spread the jelly or cream filling so I would get some in each marvelous bite. (I never claimed to be a neat eater. Truth is, I do kinda play with my food. I like to get down and dirty with it to see what it’s made of.)
These middle-school memories are just the beginning of my long love affair with donuts. I seek out the best donuts I can—from Emerson’s in Northern Kentucky and Busken Bakery in Cincinnati to Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Oregon, I’ve tried them all. The north side of Chicago, however, seems to be lacking in quality donuts, so what’s a girl to do but make her own?
While cake donuts aren’t my absolute favorite (bring on the yeast!), there’s something timeless about a good old-fashioned cinnamon and sugar donut. To reward myself for a week of hard work, I whipped up a batch of these quick and easy cake donuts. Eating them was just as satisfying as it was on those Friday mornings with my Pops. I only wish he had been in Chicago to enjoy them with me.
Homemade Cake Donuts
This recipe is adapted from Kate. It appeared on her Cooking During Stolen Moments blog in January 2010. Whenever I fry, I reuse the oil by passing it through cheesecloth to remove any impurities; the oil can be reused several times before discarding. For a print copy of this recipe, click here.
2 c. flour
½ c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. baking powder
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbs. butter or margarine, softened
½ c. milk
1 egg, beaten
Heat oil. Heat about 1 – 2 inches oil in a large skillet over medium heat, or heat 2-3 inches of oil in a large Dutch oven. The oil needs to register 375˚F before you begin frying. Use a candy thermometer or an electric thermometer that can be attached to the pan to measure temperature while frying. Oil must stay hot to keep donuts from getting too greasy.
Make dough. While oil heats, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add butter or margarine and beat until combined. Then add milk and egg until combined.
Shape and fry. Roll the dough out on a floured surface. You want the dough to be about ½-in. to 1-in. thick. Using a glass or biscuit cutter, cut out circles. Then, using a shot glass or similar small glass, cut out holes in the center of each circle. Fry donuts about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Be careful to not overcrowd the skillet. The holes will fry up in about 2 minutes. Drain on wire metal rack on a sheet pan lined with paper towels.
Plain Glaze: 1 c. powdered sugar mixed with ¼ c. milk. Dip donuts into glaze.
Vanilla Frosting: Combine 1 c. powdered sugar, ½ tsp. vanilla and 1-2 Tbs. milk until desired thickness. Spoon over donuts, or dip donuts into it.
Chocolate Frosting: Combine 1 c. powdered sugar, 1 Tbs. cocoa powder and 1-2 Tbs. milk until desired thickness. Spoon over donuts or dip donuts into it.
Cinnamon-Sugar: Combine 1 c. sugar with 1-2 tsp. cinnamon. Stir to combine, adjust as desired. I like to roll the donuts holes in this topping.
Powdered or Plain Sugar