If I had only one thing I could do the rest of my life, it would be baking. Anything made with flour, sugar, vanilla, butter …… anything. Even anything just made with flour, yeast, oil and salt ……. anything.
Last night I started fantasizing about French Market Donuts. I came across this recipe years ago in a southern cookbook entitled The Flavor of the South, Delicacies and Staples of Southern Cuisine, I bought at a resale shop. I didn’t know the previous owner had removed SOME of the pages. At least she didn’t take the French Market Donut page. Nope, I got that one.
Let me just say that I was raised by Southerners. Well, not really. Mom and Dad were from Illinois and Indiana, originally. But my Grandmother Nannie came from West Virginia and she taught Mom to cook. Even though Grandma Hattie, Dad’s mother, never taught him to cook (and that’s a fact!) her recipes were from southern Indiana and they left an indelible impression on me. If I could replicate her cherry pie and her Date Pinwheels – for which I have her handwritten recipe – I could die happy.
I remember making these donuts shortly after Dad came to live with us. Dad would never tell you anything was fantastic or how much he enjoyed his dinner. He was more apt to tell you “Well I ate it, didn’t I?” which absolutely drove Mom crazy and after I inherited him, me too. But …… I made these donuts one day and they were all gone by evening. Dad looked and me and said “You can make those donuts again.” Well excuse me while I get out the flour!
I don’t bake as much as I used to and I can tell this because our grocery bill has been cut in half. Whenever I add my choices for a baking binge, the bill goes up at least by $100 and then I cut it down again. There are only two of us. Still, I have to bake.
These donuts aren’t cut into circles and they don’t have holes. They are diamonds or squares and they’re fried in a minor amount of hot oil. Should you desire one, here is the recipe. I doubled this for us – there’s no way I’m fighting my son for the last donut.
French Market Donuts
- 5 to 6 cups flour
- 4.5 tsp yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup butter
- 2 eggs
- more sugar for shaking donuts
Place the milk, butter and sugar in a saucepan and heat until very warm 120 degrees. I let this cool a bit after I get it to this temperature because I am mortally afraid of killing yeast.
Place 2 cups of the flour, the salt and the nutmeg into a large bowl. Once cool enough, add the milk butter mixture stirring at least 100 strokes with a large spoon to blend.
Add the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Put into an oiled bowl (I use the same one, not being into washing unnecessary dishes) cover and let rise for 40 to 50 minutes.
With 1/4 of the risen dough, roll the piece until it is approximately 1/2″. Cut into squares, diamonds, triangles – anything that takes your fancy. They will eat these so fast that if you ask them what shape they were – they will not know.
Allow the donuts to rise about 20 minutes, covered. In the meantime, heat about 1″ or slightly less oil in a large skillet. When it reaches 375 degrees on your thermometer, place several in the skillet and fry until browned on one side. Turn and fry the other side – this should take only 3 minutes on the second side, if that long. You will be able to tell from the gorgeous golden brown color that they are done.
Remove donuts to a rack over paper towels to drain. As soon as they are cool enough, shake in a bag filled either with granulated or powdered sugar. You can also have a bag of each handy and have both kinds!
My dough is in its first rise. I’m dying of hunger.