Time To Make The Doughnuts

Last year, Milo told me that instead of a birthday cake he wanted an Eiffel tower made of éclairs. So I made one. It was lopsided and barely held together with bamboo skewers and ganache, but it killed; the 7-year olds in attendance were blown away and laid gleeful waste to it. This time around, I was informed that instead of cake he wanted his name spelled out in homemade doughnuts. So I made them. I have little truck with pastries; I’m not inclined to measuring and such and I have no willpower when there are sweets in the house. I’m excellent at not buying them, but once they have penetrated those defenses I’m pretty much helpless. So I tend not to bake much other than bread. I scoured the Internets for recipes that seemed doable, reliable, and adult-friendly, and was surprised to find that the Internets enjoy them some desserts. Who knew?

I settled upon this recipe for all of the above reasons, plus it has a real French pedigree and got mad forks from reviewers. I did use a different pastry cream for the filling, and used raspberry jam for filling half of them, and made a dark chocolate ganache-y glaze for the tops, but the dough is pretty much as laid out in the recipe. I liked the idea of a long, slow mix to develop gluten and character and a retard in the fridge to give it some slightly sour adult sophistication.

It turns out that I made the dough the morning of the party, so retarding it was not an option. I did have some milk that had soured a bit, so I used that, figuring it would have a similar effect. Unfortunately, the long slow mix and the fact that I quadrupled the recipe, meaning I had to make doubled batches twice, spelled doom for the trusty old KitchenAid I inherited from my Mother. It was smoking badly as the second batch rounded third—there were still knobs of butter that needed incorporating—and I coaxed it home before pushing the switch to off for the last time.

This was a blow. The mixer is at least as old as I am, and it’s the machine on which she made countless batches of bread dough, cakes, and other delights. Her gardening and baking were directly responsible for my current passionate involvement with both disciplines. Though I never used the mixer to make bread—I knead by hand or do the overnight no-knead thing—this machine ground every piece of meat that helped me win Charcutepalooza. (All the grinder attachments are original, and metal. The good stuff).

You can see the donut dough gunked around the arm there. I’m going to let Milo help me take it apart, since he’s obsessed with things mechanical these days and I suppose we could try to find a motor and replace it if it’s not too far gone inside. I need to figure out how the design has changed in the last 40+ years to see what’s possible based on available parts. In any case, it seems a fitting end to a much-used machine, giving the third generation a chance to spend a bit of time with it before it heads to the bin. I still have some other kitchen heirlooms, but this was the crown jewel. It will be missed.

The doughnuts were a success. Half got cream inside, the other half jam, and all got chocolate on top, followed by either “chocolate” or rainbow sprinkles, the only ingredients that could not claim to be real or organic. I like to think of them as homeopathic doses of artificial garbage. They did make the result look awfully festive, though my not-so-wide-angle lens made shooting the final presentation a bit tricky, even standing on a chair:

Everybody dug them; the kids all had three each, and the feral looks on their faces were something to behold. The adults all remarked on how they managed to hit all the requisite flavor and texture notes and yet still taste like food. Good flour, good eggs, good butter, and the sour raw milk all contributed to an excellent result. I’m interested to hear what next year’s request will be. Here’s the birthday boy, making a wish and trying really hard not to smile for the camera:

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  1. September 25

    Your KA looks exactly like ours, which is, granted about 20 years old. But I’m guessing you might be able to find replacement parts, on eBay if nowhere else, if a fix is feasible.

    And now: I want a doughnut.

    Happy birthday to Milo!

  2. September 25

    I live 8 miles north of Whirlpool, and know for a fact you can get replacement parts for said mixer. The internets should help you (as they apparently helped you in the doughnutathon) and I would think not all is lost: there has to be a group out there who geek on this particular mixer. (I have the same thing going on with my grandma’s Cuisinart food processor. I hope it never dies.)

    But I agree you and he should take it apart! fun!

    • Peter
      September 25

      I’m sure there are vintage KA fetish sites. Ironically, my Grandma’s Cuisinart AND KA mixer are both alive and well in VT, though they don’t see so much action.

    • Peter
      September 25

      I’m a terrible parent.

  3. Andrew
    September 25

    Would you consider posting a link to the recipe you used? My wife keeps harping on me to make our own doughnuts for Hanukkah, but these look like they might be baked, To properly honor the whole frying foods in oil theme, mine will need to be fried. Maybe I can fry a batch with that big tub of lard in my freezer from the half a pig we got six months ago. Fitting for the festival of lights, yes?

    Sorry about your Kitchen Aid. If you are not successful in the repair, I would highly recommend a Bosch Universal Spiral Mixer. I may have recommended this to you before. It is awesome. People who have had them far longer than I will swear they last for decades. They have so much more torque than any stand mixer. With the dough hook, I can easily mix and knead 12 lbs or more of bread dough in one batch, and I do so regularly. I bake bread every week (and freeze the extras) since my work schedule doesn’t permit more frequent baking. The Bosch allows me to do six loaves at a time and I don’t have to do any kneading by hand (purists will say that you should do some or all of it by hand and I can relate but that’s really a sentimental fixation, and with this unit you can knead more hydrated doughs without making a sticky mess of your hands and countertops).

    I also have a great attachment that lets me flake grains for oatmeal, baking, etc. There are all the varied attachments that any good stand mixer would have, meat grinders, sausage stuffers, pasta makers, etc. With the whisks moving at high speed I can turn a gallon of cultured cream into butter in a minute. You whip one egg white into a kick ass meringue in seconds.

    There’s a popular misconception that higher wattage stand mixers are more powerful, but the wattage merely tells you how much power they consume. It doesn’t tell you about how well the mixing arm can torque the bowl contents and how well the motor can withstand that strain. The stuff I do every week would kill any stand mixer in short order. It is not as pretty as the stand mixers, and I don’t leave it out on the counter, but it is one of the most essential appliances in my kitchen.

    By the way, the “The Joys of Child Ownership” tag? Surely this post is proof that it is the child that owns the parents. He will have lots of wonderful memories from all of your efforts.

    • Peter
      September 25

      Link fixed. They’re fried; fear not. I need to do research into possible repairs and/or replacements. Thanks for the input.

  4. September 25

    How fitting that you fried your mixer making fried doughnuts. Your mother would be proud.

  5. September 26

    Oh, sad sad sad, Peter. I fried my 25 year old mixer during Charcutepalooza, replaced it with a new Artisan model, and fried that one (twice.) Now I have the KA 7 qt. with a bigger motor and it’s been working perfectly. I also looked at the Bosch, but with a vast collection of attachments, I just couldn’t bring myself to get something other than the KA.

    In the meantime, I really want a donut now. Or is it doughnut?

  6. September 26

    i cried, not for your mixer, but for what a great father you are…

  7. September 26

    I on a bit of a doughnut roll at present. Eating not making. Although having read this I am extremely inspired. Your kid is cute and he is bloody lucky to have such a great dad. Damn good all round (as usual).

  8. Anne Clayton
    September 26

    oh I have that same mixer..it was my moms….dad rigged up an old tyewriter lift under her island so she could easily lift that baby up and get to work! awesome things came from that mixer..sausages, pates, cakes, and the best egg nog on earth every Christmas Eve…..I miss her every day and thuink happy thoughts every time I turn that old mixer on…

  9. September 26

    I love that post – and what a cute kid Milo is. Happy Birthday to him. Sorry about the mixer.

  10. John
    October 1

    I guess you’re glad his name isn’t Michaelangelo.

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