Sunday, April 1, 2012

Here Comes Peter Cottontail...with Easter Donuts

Easter donuts have always been a tradition in our family. A tradition at least three generations old. My Great-Grandma Vogel used to make these for her kids, and my Grandma made them with my Mom and her siblings when she was a little girl.

Sometimes we make them on Easter, and sometimes we make them before Easter... Like the year we moved to the States and thought it was Easter two weeks before Easter rolled around. I mean, we had a calendar, I guess we just never looked at it. We did, however, make Easter donuts for all our new neighbors and show up at their doors, announcing "Happy Easter!" It must have seemed slightly deranged. I mean, we were two whole weeks early. The kind of strange thing was, no-one thought it would be prudent to mention that it was not in fact Easter for another couple weeks. No-one. It wasn't until my Mom called my Grandma to wish her a Happy Easter that we were informed of our holiday ignorance. Oops.

Anyhow, we don't make just any donuts. We make full-on Easter donuts. We use coconut for grass on top and "Easter Eggs" in the hole. So darn cute. This year I also made some pink ones, since everyone (yes, everyone) loves pink frosted donuts, and not everyone likes coconut (weirdos).

A couple tips for making donuts before I give you the recipes:

  • This might seem a little obvious, but I have to say it. Frying oil is hot. HOT, people! Don't walk away from it. Just ask the fire department. I'm just kidding, we didn't call the fire department, but it was a close call year, we were not paying attention, and the oil started smoking. Not just a little wisp, but big clouds of black, acrid smoke. This turned into flames before anyone could react. My quick-thinking little bro threw a lid on top and carefully carried the pan out and set it in the snow on the front step (snow on Easter, gotta love Colorado). Just be careful please. Use a thermometer if you have one (they are not expensive, and you can usually find one at the grocery store), and keep a constant eye on the oil. Turn it off if you are going to leave the kitchen.
  • Try not to pierce the donuts when you are turning them or taking them out. They will get oily inside.
  • Take them out of the oil just before you think they are brown enough. As in a few seconds before. They will continue to cook for a little while after you take them out.
  • Don't frost the donuts while they are hot. The glaze or frosting will just run off. You do want to toss the donut holes in sugar pretty quickly though (so the sugar will stick).
  • Don't forget the donut holes!!
Have fun and be creative with your decorations!

"Favorite" Donuts
(from Betty Crocker's Cookbook, 1969)

3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons butter, softened (the original recipe calls for shortening - if you like to use shortening, then by all means, go for it - I use butter)
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk

oil or fat for frying

Heat fat or oil (you want it to be at least a couple inches deep...I do mine in a big ol' cast-iron skillet, as I do not have a deep fryer) to 375°F. Keep an eye on it!
Measure out 1 1/2 cups of the flour - add this and the remaining ingredients into a large mixer bowl.

Yep, just throw 'em all in there.
Blend for about 30 seconds on low speed, scraping bowl constantly.
Beat for two minutes on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally.
It should still be pretty runny.
Stir in remaining flour (don't overmix here - just make sure the flour is incorporated).
See how it's all nice and thick and dough-like?
Turn dough out onto a floured surface (I usually roll mine out in a couple batches).
Gently roll dough to about 3/8 inch thick.

Cut with floured donut cutter (or other round stuff).

Pop quiz:
What is in the above picture?
a) A glass and the lid to a bottle of rum
b) Donut cutters
c) Too much flour on my rolling surface
d) All of the above

You're right, it's d! I don't have a donut cutter. Anything round with roughly the right proportions works fine. Just make sure you flour whatever you are using so it doesn't stick.
And save the donut holes!! These are great glazed or sugared.

Gently drop the donuts into the hot oil (wait until it is up to 375°!). I can't put enough emphasis on gently here. I can't say I haven't burned myself when I rush and drop them in too enthusiastically. Oil likes to spit and splatter. Fun.

Donuts will rise to the surface when they are ready to be turned.

You might want to turn them a couple times to get a nice even browning on both sides. They only need to be fried for about 2-3 minutes once they have floated to the surface.

Carefully remove from oil using a slotted spoon, a skimmer, or tongs (just be careful not to pierce or prick the donuts or they will be oily).
Drain on a paper towel or a rack (this is when you want to sugar the donuts or donut holes if that is how you like them).
Decorate as desired.

Let's start with the Easter donuts...
Mix up a simple powdered sugar glaze. I apologize, I did not measure anything for this glaze. It's super easy though. Just put a couple cups of confectioner's sugar in a bowl and pour in a tiny bit of boiling water (seriously, a tiny bit, like a tablespoon or less). Whisk until smooth and pretty runny. If it is too thick, add more water (in tiny amounts). If it is too thin, add a little more sugar. You can now add color and flavor if you would like. I like to add almond extract. Mostly because it smells divine, and it's a nice subtle flavor. You only need a couple drops.
OK, so I made a green glaze. I also dyed some shredded coconut green. Liquid food coloring goes a long way, so just add a couple drops to about a cup of coconut in a bowl. You can mix this with a fork or your fingers (fair warning though, if you use your fingers, they might be green for a while).

Dip each donut about halfway into the glaze.

Swirl it around a little bit, and then dip it into the coconut while it is still wet.

Voilà! You have a "grass" covered donut! Choose a few little "eggs" to sit in the middle, and you have Easter donuts (I used Reese's eggs - so yummy! You could also use jellybeans or any other egg-shaped treat).

For the pink ones, make a pink glaze, and dip them just like with the green ones. When they were dry, I melted a few yellow candy melts and drizzled them over the top for a little flair.

For the donut holes, I kept it simple. I rolled half of them in cinnamon sugar while they were hot, and then dipped the remaining ones in a white glaze. Easy peasy.

Enjoy, and Happy Easter! (Get it? It's not Easter yet...never mind. Just ignore the crazy lady.)

One big happy donut family.


  1. I'm pretty sure peasy isn't a word.

    1. Is too. As in "Dunking donut holes in glaze is easy peasy." Well, it should be anyway.

  2. these look yum...think I'll have a crack at them over the weekend!

    1. You should! Let me know how they go!

  3. oh yummmm! Beautiful pictures of the finished donuts.