As I perused Facebook this morning to see what had happened in the world while I slept, I was alerted to the fact that today, June 5th, is National Doughnut Day. I have no idea who decided to have a national doughnut day, but I am suspicious that somehow the culprit is connected to a national doughnut shop chain. Nevertheless, this was all the reason I needed to justify indulging in this sweet doughy treat. But the idea of standing in a long line at a donut shop with dozens of other hungry fans didn’t appeal to me. Suddenly, I had the perfect idea – today I would dig out Grandma’s recipe and attempt to make her donuts that I loved so much as a child.
On every spring break from school, my mom, sister and I would take a drive through the country to Grandma’s farm and spend the day making donuts. The farmhouse kitchen was everything you would dream it to be -a large farmhouse table, lots of cupboards and counter space, wide windows overlooking both the front yard and cow barn as well as the backyard with an iconic outhouse from years gone by and Grandma’s flower beds. When we arrived for donut making, Grandma would have already started the dough and most likely it was rising globe-like above the rim of her large kettle. After punching the dough down, my sister and I began to cut out donuts with Grandma’s donut cutters. Grandma and Mom would manage the frying with great skill. Then, when the donuts had just cooled, they were dipped in a sugar glaze and stacked on large trays all around the kitchen. Eating those donuts while they were still warm and gooey was amazing! After filling our stomachs, we would pack the remaining donuts into containers that would be delivered to family members so all could enjoy.
Some years later, the farmhouse burned to the ground. Grandma never did make donuts again, though we still went out and spent time with her every spring break. However, I did get the recipe from her, and several years ago I attempted to make them, without much success. Thinking of Grandma today, I determined to give it another try. Some of the recipe’s measurements are unfamiliar to me. What is 1.75 lbs of flour? How much is 1/2 ounce of salt? This time I had the Internet to help and I was able to get the precise measurements I needed. Also, I believe Grandma fried her donuts in lard. I decided on the next best thing – a can of shortening.
After making the dough, letting it rise twice, and rolling it out, my daughter and I began to cut out donuts. Soon we were frying these delicacies and dipping them in the sugary glaze, impatiently waiting for them to cool enough to eat. It was worth the wait! The crispy donut shell with the soft interior was perfectly highlighted with the glistening glaze of sugar, causing the donut to melt in your mouth. Not only did I enjoy the taste of these treats, I found myself laughing out loud at the sheer amazement that I had managed to make Grandma’s donuts almost as good as she did. I was a little girl again, sitting on a stool in Grandma’s farmhouse kitchen, with sticky fingers and a happy heart.
Thank you, Grandma! I think you are smiling down on me as I eat this treat in my suburban kitchen, sharing with my daughter the story of your farmhouse kitchen donuts. I think we may have started a new tradition for National Doughnut Day. And that’s a good thing!