Sweet Milk Donuts
When I was little, my mom would lug her old electric deep fryer into her elementary school classroom every fall to make these fried cake donuts with her students. I was usually lucky enough to join them for the special afternoon. This year I decided to dig out her recipe and try my hand at them. The results were as delicious as I remember and the perfect fall treat.
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If you’ve never made fresh donuts before, these are pretty easy and a lot of fun. You will need a few special tools though. First, you’ll want a proper donut cutter. It makes it so much easier to produce nicely shaped donuts. I also recommend having a spider on hand to get the donuts in and out of the hot oil. This keeps your hands as far away from the oil as possible without damaging the donuts. Finally, make sure you have a good thermometer. You will need to monitor the oil temperature and adjust the heat up and down as you go to keep it at 360◦.
While I prefer the cinnamon and sugar coating that I’ve included in the recipe, my mom would often coat the donuts in powdered sugar instead. So feel free try either or even some of both.
Keep in mind that these donuts are best fresh, so plan to serve them the same day you make them. And don’t forget a glass of apple cider alongside!
Sweet Milk Donuts
- vegetable oil for frying
- 2 1/2 cups sugar, divided
- 2 tablespoons + 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
- 5 cups flour
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons shortening, melted
- Pour vegetable oil into a large pot to a depth of about 2 inches and place over medium heat until oil reaches 360◦. Place two cooling racks over two large rimmed baking sheets lined with paper towels.
- Mix 1 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar until smooth. Whisk in the milk and shortening.
- Add the egg mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture and use a large wooden spoon to stir until fully incorporated. (The dough will be a bit sticky.)
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and roll to 1/2-inch thick, sprinkling the top with a little more flour if the rolling pin sticks. Use a donut cutter to cut out donuts, dipping the cutter into flour between each cut. Re-roll the scraps once so you end up with 2 dozen donuts. Place the donuts on a large platter or cutting board, setting aside the holes.
- Working in batches of 4 to 6, depending on your pan size, carefully lower the donuts into the hot oil using a spider. Cook until browned on the bottom, about 2 minutes, then gently turn over and cook until the other side is browned, another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove the donuts from the oil with the spider and place them on the cooling rack. As soon as you can safely handle the hot donuts, dip them in the cinnamon and sugar mixture, fully coating both sides, then return them to the cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining batches, waiting for the oil to heat up to 360◦ again if needed. Once the donuts are done, you can also cook the holes if you'd like.
- As soon as the donuts are cool, enjoy – they are at their best fresh!