Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sourdough Donuts

This recipe was written at the end of May. And somehow it's already July. What in the world?! A lot of traveling in between then and now. I'll spare you the details, mainly because it was mostly a blur in my pregnant memory, and I didn't take many pictures.

The reason for this recipe came about when we butchered our pig and made lard in early May. I will spare you the details... for now.

Since I had a lot of beautiful lard, my husband suggested making donuts. Doughnuts. However you spell it. At any rate, I have never made donuts before. And of course, I chose to make sourdough donuts. Because, as I’ve mentioned before, I am a bit obsessed with sourdough. I finally chose a recipe out of one of my old faves, The Presidential Cookbook, published in 1895. Now, this cookbook is very interesting, because it assumes that you know a lot more than today’s day-and-age cook knows. (In fact, I think in the future I’d like to share a few recipes, because they’re just a hoot!) But onto the recipe!

Here is the exact wording from the cookbook, followed by my interpretation!

Raised Doughnuts
from The Presidential Cookbook
Old-fashioned “raised doughnuts,” are seldom seen, now-a-days, but are easily made. Make a sponge as for bread, using a pint of warm water or milk, and a large half cupful of yeast; when the sponge is very light, add half a cupful of butter or sweet lard, a coffee-cupful of sugar, a teaspoonful of salt and one small teaspoonful of soda, dissolved in a little water, one tablespoonful of cinnamon, a little grated nutmeg; stir in now two well-beaten eggs, add sifted flour until it is the consistency of biscuit-dough, knead it well, cover and let rise; then roll the dough out into a sheet half an inch thick, cut out with a very small biscuit-butter, or in strips half an inch wide and three inches long, place them on greased tins, cover them well, and let them rise before frying them. Drop them in very hot lard. Raised cakes required longer time than cakes made with baking-powder. Sift powdered sugar over them as fast as they are fried, while warm. Our grandmothers put allspice into these cakes; that, however, is a matter of taste.

Sourdough Donuts (my version)
Makes about 3 dozen.
2 c. warm water (or milk, sour milk, whatever you have)
½ c. sourdough starter (mine wasn’t proofed, so don’t worry if you pull it cold out of fridge)
4 c. freshly ground flour (I used half red wheat berries, and half soft white wheat berries)
Mix together in the evening and let sit overnight.

In the morning, add…
½ c. melted lard (not too hot. I used lard because I had some readily available)
¾ c. sugar (I used raw sugar because that’s what I use instead of white)
1 t. salt
¾ t. soda, dissolved in a little water
1 T. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
2 beaten eggs

Add flour (I didn’t sift, but maybe that would be better. I just didn’t have the patience for sifting) until the consistency is right. I ended up adding 2 c. ground whole wheat flour, and 1 ½ c. unbleached white flour in order to get the right consistency. You should be able to knead it and not have it be sticky.  I maybe kneaded it for a few minutes. Then covered it to sit. Now, I wasn’t sure how long to let it rise, but it rose for 4-5 hours because that's how my day worked out.

After lunch I formed the donuts by rolling out the dough (use more white flour) to about ½ inch thick and used a small canning jar ring to cut circles. Then I used my finger to poke a hole in the middle. Then I floured some pans and laid my donuts to rest. Again, being unsure how long to let them rise, they maybe rose for an hour or so. They didn’t look like they had risen much, so I was resigned to flat donuts.

I got my oil heated up. I used my candy thermometer and kept the temp between 350 and 375 degrees. Boy, did the donuts puff up!! I was so surprised! I did about 4-5 minutes per side, till they were a golden brown. They seem to darken in color after you get them out of the oil.

I left them plain, and just sprinkled powdered sugar over them as we ate them. Otherwise they would’ve just soaked up the powdered sugar. It took us about a week to eat them up. And they were pretty tasty. I will say they are a little dense, but I think most donuts just ARE dense, although it’s been years since I’ve had a store-bought donut.

And I have to tell you… the days I had those donuts, I had an amazing amount of energy! I worked through the afternoon without a nap and was still going until bedtime! For this mama who is always tired, that’s saying something. I am pretty sure it’s the lard. It sticks with you and satiates. And makes you forget to have a snack. Pregnant mamas need to snack. So I should just have a half a donut, maybe… ;-)

Before raise time
After raise time... not much difference
My helpers. They got to form their own donut.

Plumping up in the hot lard. I love my ceramic cast iron pot!

Finished product. Not picture perfect, but really... who cares?!


  1. Hello. I just wanted to tell you that I used your recipe and it made DIVINE doughnuts. Thank you! I left a few without holes and then used leftover pumpkin puree to make a custard filling. It was the perfect combo!

    1. That makes me so happy to know you had success!!