Ever since Krispy Kreme closed it's doors in Hong Kong in 2010, i live every day with a deep and bitter longing for the original glazed. Sometimes i day dream about that episode in Sex and The City where Miranda has an extremely satisfying original glazed donut at the diner after her Weightwatchers meeting. Deprivation really only intensifies the cravings.
Normally i would not feel the need to share such a finicky and difficult recipe, but this one is different, because it is perfect. Baking is such an art and science, proofing yeast and dough alone has taken me ages to learn and i still have a long way to go. The first time i made this recipe, i proofed the yeast 6 times to get it right, and even sent my husband out to buy new yeast because i realized that yeast will die if left in the fridge too long. See all my amateur tips for proofing below!
Adapted from Mark Bittman's recipe on New York Times Cooking.
For the Donuts
1 1/4 cups milk
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp salt
4 1/4 cups all purpose flour
8 cups vegetable oil
For the Glaze
2 cups icing sugar
1/4 cups milk
Proof the yeast - heat the milk until slightly warm and add the dry yeast. Stir it lightly and leave it for 5-10 minutes until it becomes foamy. If it doesn't become foamy, you didn't activate the yeast properly. See my tips below.
Proof the dough - Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, butter, sugar and salt into the proofed yeast mixture. Add half of the flour and mix till combined, then switch from the mixture to your hands and gradually add the remaining half. Stop when the dough pulls away from the bowl. If the mixture is too wet after adding all the dough, add more flour a tablespoon at a time. Knead it until smooth on a floured surface - the texture of the dough should be like a baby's bottom. Grease a plastic bowl with a little oil, put the dough in and cover with a cloth. Sit it in room temperature or in a slightly warmed oven until it doubles in size (about 1-2 hours). This is the most crucial step, see below for my tips on proofing dough.
Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and knead it a few times. roll it out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out donuts with a donut cutter or 3 inch and 1 inch cookie cutters. Flour the cutters as well to prevent sticking. Use up remaining scraps by kneading together and rolling them out.
Put the donuts on floured baking sheets leaving plenty of room between each one. Cover with a kitchen towel and let them rise further someplace warm for 45 minutes. The donuts will puff up and double in thickness.
Frying the donuts - heat the oil to 190C in a heavy pot or dutch oven. Add donuts to the oil 2 or 3 at a time with a metal spatula. Adding too many will lower the heat too much causing a greasy donut. Fry for 45 seconds to 1 minute until golden, and flip with a metal spatula. Transfer the donuts to a wire rack to cool down. The donut holes will cook faster and will also roll around in the oil since they're round. I recommend that you hold them down with metal tongs, and they only take about 20 seconds per side.
Glazing - Whisk the icing sugar and milk together until smooth. Wait till donuts are completely cooled before dipping into the glaze, otherwise they will melt and become a huge mess. Put back on wire rack to let the glaze harden.
Make sure your yeast is not expired or not opened/in the fridge for more than a month or two. The yeast will die and you will end up wasting the milk (as i experienced the hard way). If in doubt buy small individual packs and just use a new package.
The milk you use to activate the yeast should be warm, around 40 degrees celcius / 110 degrees farenheit. If you can't be bothered with being precise, well then you shouldn't attempt to bake lol, or you can touch the milk. It should only be slightly warmer than the milk you would feed your baby.
HK summers are perfect for proofing dough! Turn off the aircon and just let the dough rise in the kitchen. If it isn't hot, you could preheat then turn off the oven and put the dough inside for proofing with the oven door slightly open (otherwise it may be too hot).
If you are an expert baker please don't laugh at my attempt at proofing tips above. If you have more tips on proofing for beginners, please share!