Doughnut Day: a family tradition

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Posted on Jan 01 2017 in Food

By Joe Craig

We have a family tradition called Doughnut Day. This all started when my mother, Irene Craig, who just celebrated her 100th birthday in early December, found a recipe for homemade doughnuts about 50 years ago.

Even though preparing the doughnuts required a significant time investment, she took them to church dinners, family reunions, club meetings, etc. All who sampled them wanted more. My aunt and mother often collaborated on a winter’s Saturday or Sunday afternoon to share the work in order to make bigger batches.

About 18 years ago, my wife and I helped her prepare a batch of doughnuts one New Year’s Day. The doughnuts were so good that I determined this should be done on every New Year’s Day. Now, we invite children, grandchildren, relatives, friends and neighbors to help.

Our typical Doughnut Day begins about 9 a.m. I pick up my mother and bring her to my home. She cannot mix the dough, nor see to measure ingredients. But she is the “inspector general” for Doughnut Day and must bless each step. Under her direct supervision, my wife and I follow her recipe and her instructions and mix up several batches of dough. The dough is placed in large pans and allowed to rise.

After the family helps cutting, frying and icing the doughnuts, the doughnuts are ready to taste and enjoy. But we cannot do that until my mother has ceremonially tasted the first one and pronounced that this is “the best batch we have ever made.”

I suppose that some would say this does not constitute much of a tradition. I beg to differ. I hope our grandchildren will remember how we trusted them to take part in each step of the process. I want them to remember how warm and fuzzy it is to start the new year together with those we love. That is a family tradition worth keeping forever.


Irene’s DOughnuts

Doughnuts:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 T. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Approximately 10½ cups flour

Frosting:

  • 4 lbs. powdered sugar
  • 1 t. vanilla (more if you like it)
  • Milk, thicken to preference

Heat water, milk and butter to lukewarm. Add yeast and stir to dissolve. With a mixer, cream sugar, salt, eggs and vanilla together. Add about half of the flour to the sugar mixture and blend. Add the milk/yeast mixture. Add remaining flour to make a good sticky dough. Coat a dishpan with oil and place the dough in the pan. Turn once to ensure a coating of oil on top of the dough. Cover loosely. Allow to stand in a warm place.

When dough has doubled in size, take out enough dough to work with. Use only enough flour to keep from sticking and roll out the dough to be about 3/8-inch thick. Cut out doughnuts. Allow doughnuts to rise again. When doughnuts are good and “puffy,” carefully fry them in oil at about 350 F. Turn them when brown and then remove and allow to drain. Top with frosting.

Cook’s notes: This recipe will make about 4 dozen doughnuts, depending upon the size. We usually make four batches like this.

Irene Craig