There is no sane reason to make these at home when you can buy them at many midwest bakeries for around $1.00. So, if you’re a little insane when it comes to homemade food, come along for the ride on this ultra long recipe.
Long john doughnuts
- 1/2 C + 1 T whole milk, warmed to between 105 and 115 degrees (F)
- 2 T sugar
- 1 1/8 t active dry yeast
- 5 T unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 2 C all-purpose flour (plus more for work surface)
- 1 – 2 t vegetable oil (for storing dough)
- 1 1/2 qt. vegetable oil, for frying
Chocolate pudding filling (optional but encouraged; or use Nutella)
- 1/3 C sugar
- 2 T all-purpose flour
- 2 T cornstarch
- Yolks of 4 large eggs
- 1 1/3 C milk
- 1 t vanilla or hazelnut extract
- 4 oz. semi- or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
Chocolate frosting and decor
- 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, cut into 6 equal pieces
- 1/2 C heavy cream
- 3/4 C fine (not powdered) sugar
- 3 T unsalted butter
- 1/2 t vanilla extract
- Sprinkles or chopped nuts (optional)
Long john doughnuts
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine warm milk and sugar until sugar is mostly dissolved. Add yeast, stir, and let stand until foamy (like the before and after here). Meanwhile, heat butter until just melted (not piping hot) in a small mixing bowl or glass measuring cup. Cool butter slightly, then add eggs while whisking constantly (so they don’t solidify). With dough hook attachment and mixer on low, pour egg and butter mixture into activated yeast mixture. After a minute of mixing, when thoroughly combined, add flour in 1/2 cup increments, one right after the other.
- After adding the last of the flour, stop the mixer immediately, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then turn back on low speed for 5 minutes, until the dough forms a smooth mass around the dough hook, completely coming away from the sides of the bowl. Turn off the mixer and leave dough to rest for 10 minutes.
- Add enough oil to the mixer bowl to coat the dough. Use a rubber spatula or your hands to quickly toss dough in the oil. Transfer to a glass bowl, if it fits better in the fridge, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate immediately, overnight (8 to 12 hours).
- To make the doughnuts the next morning, turn cold dough out onto a well floured surface. Roll into a rectangle 3/8″ thick (the thicker you roll it, the puffier your doughnuts will be. Use a knife or pizza cutter to cut approximately 5 by 2 inch rectangles (or your desired size–frying time is about the same for any size doughnut). There won’t be many scraps given the shape, but you can use any to test the oil, make weird shaped doughnuts, or re-roll to try to get more out of the deal. Place cutouts on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper and sprinkled with flour, leaving an inch or two in between doughnuts. Cover with a clean, light dish towel, then let rise in a warm place for about one hour, until very fluffy and indented when poked.
- About halfway through rising, start heating the oil–it will take at least a half hour to come to the right temperature. See notes for lots of safety info about deep frying. Gradually heat the oil, starting at medium low. Each time the temp levels out, turn it up a bit until you reach 375 degrees (F). This requires patience, or your oil may overheat, and then you have a half hour to kill while it comes down to 375. Place the risen doughnuts nearby, and prepare a wire rack with about 3 layers of paper towels. You’ll also need a heat-resistant spatula and a slotted spoon or spider strainer.
- To fry doughnuts, dip spatula in the hot oil then use it to pick up one doughnut and gently slide it into the hot oil. Repeat with as many doughnuts as will comfortably fit in the pan. The doughnuts should bubble vigorously if the oil is hot enough (if they don’t, your dough also may have warmed too much). Fry 60 to 90 seconds on one side, until dark golden, then flip over gently with the spatula, being careful not to splash hot oil. After another 60 seconds or so, quickly remove the doughnuts to paper towels, letting a little oil drip off over the pan. Flip the doughnuts over on the paper towels a couple times in the first minute after removing from the oil, to help remove excess grease. Repeat with remaining doughnuts until they’re all fried!
Chocolate pudding filling
- With a handheld electric mixer, beat sugar, flour, cornstarch, and egg yolks on nearly high speed until light yellow and thick. Then, brink milk to a simmer in a small saucepan (that’s light enough to pick up with one hand). Turn off heat. With mixer running and the bowl of yolk mixture on a towel or silicone mat, pour about a third of the milk into the yolk mix and beat until well combined. It will be surprisingly stiff but should incorporate quickly. Add egg mixture back to pan with remaining milk, and heat over medium low, stirring constantly, until it starts to bubble. At that point, cook and whisk another minute or so until quite stiff. Transfer custard to a bowl and fold in extract of choice and chopped chocolate, until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. For best results, strain through a fine mesh strainer. Press plastic wrap over surface of warm cream, then refrigerate until fully chilled before using. The cream should be thick but still fairly pliable. I didn’t bring it to room temp before filling the doughnuts.
- My imperfect method for filling the doughnuts is this: While doughnuts are still warm, use a skewer to carve a narrow channel through the length of the doughnut, poking a hold at both ends. Fit a pastry bag with a small (about 1/4 inch) basic tip, then fill with pastry cream. Place doughnut on a paper towel, and pipe in filling from both ends until it feels full, trying to avoid overfilling and bursting the doughnuts.
Chocolate frosting and decor
- Wait to frost doughnuts until after filling them, if using filling.
- Gradually bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Turn off heat and, without stirring, add chocolate. Cover and leave alone for 10 minutes. Scrape mixture into a food processor and add sugar, butter, and vanilla. Process until smooth and sugar is dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. Spread icing over fresh doughnuts, or, if making ahead, store up to a week in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature or warm until spreadable before using. While frosting is still soft, sprinkle doughnuts with sprinkles or nuts, if using.
Do not leave the mixer unattended while kneading dough–it can get bumpy and slightly violent and could scoot off the countertop, causing the death of your mixer or serious injury to anyone in the vicinity.
I make the dough at night and refrigerate it, so I haven’t tested it more than about 12 hours in the fridge. I can’t guarantee it will hold up longer, but if you try it with success, let me know.
Safety is of utmost importance when deep frying. All joking aside, I, a semi-experienced fryer, go to the trouble of taking out our fire extinguisher, reading its instructions, and setting it on the counter before starting. Use your heaviest pot so its less likely a bump would knock it over. I use the back burner–while slightly inconvenient, it prevents bumping of the pan. You don’t need to go so extreme as to wear safety goggles (but suit yourself), but I do wear something on my feet and always go for long pants and a fitted, long sleeve shirt. The more common sense safety measures you take, the less nervous you’ll be about all that hot oil.
Rumor has it that frying in vegetable shortening yields superior results to any oil, but one look at that ingredient list had me running for the hills. I tried frying with oil first, was ecstatic with the results, and see no reason to use even more processed and scary shortening (lesser of two evils, I suppose).
- Category: Breakfast
- Cuisine: American