Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts
Every year we go to visit my sister for Chanukah. My sister, Raizel, is really a lot of fun. Aside from my mother, and my Aunt Perel (A”H), my sister is also one of the best cooks I know.
By training, Raizel is actually a chef. However, once she got married, she transferred her cooking skills to being a “Baal Chessed.” For those who may not already know, “chessed” translates as “loving kindness.” It is an action, as well as a character trait. So, if someone is a “Baal Chessed,” they are a charitable person who is constantly engaged in acts of kindness. That is my sister, to a “T.”
In addition, my sister is also a “Baal Hachnasat Orchim.” “Hachnasat Orchim,” is the Hebrew word for “hospitality” or “welcoming guests.” This mitzvah, in its purest form, consists of hosting and serving the needs of those who are destitute and have no place to eat or sleep.
My sister and her husband used to host up to 20 people per meal for Shabbat and holiday meals. All of their guests were treated to homemade, all natural, healthy, kosher food. Many of them were people who genuinely needed a place to eat.
It was a delicate balancing act. Yet, my sister and her husband excelled at this mitzvah of Hachnasat Orchim (welcoming guests), all while raising 6 beautiful children, 3 of whom are now married. One of my wonderful nieces, Eli, shared this recipe for doughnuts.
Fantastic Glazed Doughnuts
2 1/4 teaspoons dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
Alternative: use water, coconut or nut milk instead
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
Alternative: use coconut oil or palm shortening instead
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoons salt
2 3/4 cup flour
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in a small amount of warm water. Add the milk (or substitute), butter, egg, sugar and salt. Blend this until its smooth.
Add the remaining flour and knead until the dough is smooth. Cover the dough with a plastic bag and leave the dough to rise, until the dough has doubled, about 1/2 – 1 hour.
Punch the dough down and roll out a half inch thick.
Using a cup or biscuit cutter (or even a dry empty can to cut out the doughnuts. If you want to make the doughnuts with the traditional hole in the middle, use a shot glass or similar sized object to cut out the holes. (The holes will later become doughnut holes)
Place these on cookie sheets and let them rise for about 30 to 60 minutes.
Heat oil in a pot, and then fry the doughnuts, approximately, 30 seconds on each side. Once the oil becomes hot, this process is very quick.
The trick is to have the oil hot, but not too hot. Our friend, Judith, said that in the days before there were thermometers, you knew the oil was hot enough when it would take 1 minute to cook a piece of bread. I thought that was a nice trick!
My sister simply put in one of the doughnut holes, and waited until it started to brown nicely.
Regulating the temperature correctly is critical to making doughnuts successfully. If the oil is too hot, the outside will burn but the inside will be too raw. If that happens, bake the doughnuts in the oven so that they will cook nicely.
Remove from oil and place in pot of sugar syrup and coat on each side.
The trick to making doughnuts taste completely awesome is to dip the doughnuts into the glaze right after they have been fried. Unfortunately, my sister is an intuitive cook, and she does not need to follow recipes. So, this an approximation of what she did.
Equal amounts of water and sugar, i.e. ½ water and ½ cup sugar.
To make a glaze using granulated sugar, place equal amounts of sugar and water to a cooking pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Cook the sugar and water over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.
If you want a thicker glaze, continue to cook the glaze and stir occasionally until it reduces to a thicker consistency, or add more sugar.
Once the doughnuts are cooked, quickly drop them into the simmering glaze, and turn to coat both sides and then remove and place on plate.
Decorate as desired.
Here are the pictures. My sister laughs at me that I need things explained so exactly. But, that is why I am writing this blog in the first place. I am so grateful that I have her and my mother to learn from.
The final outcome was a work of art. The downside of doughnuts is that they are only good fresh. So, make sure you invite lots of people over to share them with you! You can tell them it’s a mitzvah.
My sister tells me that the reason why she is able to make these so well is that she is not afraid of making a mistake, and every year she keeps on trying to improve. So, now you know why she is not only an awesome cook, but an awesome person as well. She is truly our family tzedakis (righteous soul).