Making donuts has been a culinary life-goal of mine for many years now. I saw them as a challenge for a long time and was intimidated by the ideal fluffiness of Krispy Kreme held dear in my family.
You see, every year growing up we would go to the mall to do Christmas shopping for each other and enjoy the hustle and bustle of moving carts, decorative lights, and soft, cheery music playing overhead. On our way home we passed Krispy Kreme; my siblings and I would keep our eyes peeled to the view out of the car, searching for the Krispy Kreme sign, our fingers crossed in hope the light would be on. The light meant that they were making free, fresh donuts inside. When the neon light illuminated the store, we'd yell and beg to stop; I remember running inside and watching the automated assembly line producing hot goodies. The dough rising in moving trays, the little round donuts sizzling in oil before being flipped to their opposite side, and then moving through a continuously moving wall of white glaze. A woman would gently pull off a hot confection with a toothpick, place it in wax paper, and, with a smile as sweet as the sugar in the air, hand it to the wide-eyed, curly haired me.
1-1/8 cup milk (warm)
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/4 teaspoons (one packet) Instant or Active Dry Yeast
2 whole large eggs, beaten
1-1/4 stick butter, melted
4 cups All-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cold milk
For the dough:
Make sure the milk is warm, but not too hot - if you can't keep your finger in it for 20 seconds, it's too hot. Add sugar to milk and stir to dissolve.
Put yeast into a small bowl; pour milk-sugar mixture over yeast. Stir gently and let sit for 10 minutes. Melt butter in separate bowl until butter is nearly melted and then stir butter to finish melting it. Add beaten eggs to butter, stirring constantly.
Add the egg-butter mixture to an electric mixer (with the dough hook attachment). With the mixer on medium-low speed, pour in the yeast mixture. Allow the dough hook to stir this mixture for a couple minutes.
Combine the flour and salt. With the mixer still going, add the flour combination in 1/4 cup increments.
Scrape the bowl, then turn the mixer on the same speed for 5 minutes.
Turn off the mixer and allow the dough to sit in the mixer bowl for 10 minutes.
Transfer dough to lightly buttered/oiled bowl.
Refrigerate dough for at least 8 hours or overnight.
For the donuts:
Remove the dough from the fridge and put onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out to 1/4 to 1/3 inch thickness. The thicker the dough, the puffier the donut will be after it has risen.
Using a 3-inch cutter (a cup, a biscuit cutter, etc), cut out as many rounds as you can, then re-roll the remaining dough, etc.
Cut holes in each donut round using a smaller (1 or 1-1/2 inch) cutter.
Place donuts and holes on a floured baking sheet.
Place in a warm, draft-free place in the kitchen. I preheated the oven to 175 ºF and then turned off and let cool a little bit so that it was warm, not hot.
Allow donuts to rise for an hour; they'll be clearly puffy and airy.
To fry the donuts:
Take a large pot and pour enough oil that you have two inches between the top of the oil and the bottom of the pan.
Heat it to 375ºF (maintain this temperature - try not to let it rise above 380º).
Gently lower each donut into the oil with a fork. After 1 minute, flip the donut.
With a fork, lift the donut from the oil onto a layer of paper towels. Flip the donut over a few times on the paper towels to get rid of as much oil as possible.
The donut holes will cook faster, so don't give them as much time in the oil.
Mix all ingredients until smooth.
Submerge donuts halfway in glaze. Flip to the other side in glaze.
Remove from glaze and place on a cooling rack with a cookie sheet underneath to catch the glaze.
SERVE WARM IF POSSIBLE!