Buttermilk Potato Doughnuts the Old Fashioned Way
Doughnuts cooked in lard are far better than anything you can buy
These buttermilk and mashed potato doughnuts are fluffy and light, not overly sweet, and do not leave you with a heavy feeling so common after eating a doughnut fried in vegetable oil. The secret? Frying them in our pastured lard.
After an exhaustive exploration, cooking every doughnut recipe that seemed worthy of our attention I manipulated a mashed potato doughnut recipe I came across on Serious Eats. The mashed potato makes the dough light and fluffy, and honestly I can’t explain how as it seems that mashed potato would do exactly the opposite. Regardless of my ignorance, they are fantastic and that is why this is the recipe I use for the doughnuts I make every Christmas morning.
If you are someone who likes to fry 24 doughnuts and their holes in one go, don’t let me stop you. I’m someone who prefers to make 12-14 at a time and make a second batch of doughnuts later. One way to do this is simply to halve the recipe. What I do is mix all of the dry ingredients, weigh them and set aside half in an air tight container. Then I mix all of the wet ingredients, weigh and divide them, and store half in the fridge in another air tight container. I make half the doughnuts immediately. The other batch should be mixed and fried within a few days.
Buttermilk Potato Doughnuts the Old-Fashioned Way
- High temp thermometer
- 4 cups all-purpose flour See note below
- 2 ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup buttermilk reduce if using einkorn (see note)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 8 oz potato cooked and riced
- 1 quart lard or as needed to fill medium pot to a depth of 3"
- Cube peeled potatoes into 1 inch chunks and place them in a steamer basket over simmering water. Simmer, covered, until they are very soft and completely give way under the pressure of a fork. Immediately press the hot potatoes through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl. Weigh the riced potato to make sure you have 8oz and set the bowl aside to cool while you assemble the rest.
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. (Weigh the dry ingredients and set half aside if you are planning to make two batches of doughnuts.)
- Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix until the sugar has dissolved and the eggs lighten in color.
- Add the buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla and continue to mix with the whisk attachment until well combined. Add the mashed potatoes and continue whisking until there are no obvious lumps. (Weigh these wet ingredients and set half of it aside in an air tight container in the fridge if you plan to make doughnuts tomorrow as well.)
- Switch out the whisk for the paddle attachment and add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two portions. Continue mixing until the dough begins to come together and pull away from the edges of the bowl of the stand mixer. (If using Einkorn wheat, feel free to add flour here if the dough seems way too wet.)
- When ready to fry your doughnuts it will pay to clear the area on either side of your stove and remove anything extraneous, including your children. You will need a medium sized pot, a candy thermometer (a clip to hold the thermometer on the edge of your pan is very useful). Lay out a piece of parchment paper to the left of your fry pot and sprinkle it with flour so the raw, cut doughnuts do not stick to the paper. Place a baking wrack double lined with paper towels to the right side of the fry pot for the recently fried doughnuts. Place an easily visible timer somewhere within arms reach.
- Begin heating your lard. Put enough lard in the pan that it’s at least three inches deep when melted. If possible turn on your range hood so that the house doesn’t smell crazy when you’re finished. Crack a nearby window with a fan blowing out if you don’t have a hood. The lard will come to temperature slowly and make little popping sounds – that’s moisture that’s escaping. Don’t worry. Heat to 365F and then manage the heat carefully to ensure that it stays at this temperature while frying. If the lard gets much hotter than this it will scorch the doughnuts. If you fry doughnuts much cooler than this (330 – 350F) the dough will take up too much fat and become heavy in your tum tum.
- Lightly flour (or heavily flour if using Einkorn) a clean work surface. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle of sorts, 3/8ths to 1/2 inch thick. Use a doughnut cutter dredged in flour and press it into your dough, but do not twist. Twisting binds up the sides of the dough and prevents each doughnut from expanding as much as it would otherwise. Wipe the sides of the cutter after each use, since the dough can be wet, and re-coat with flour. Place each cut doughnut and hole on the parchment paper you carefully laid out to the left of your fry pot. You can lightly knead the scraps together and press or roll the remaining dough as flat as you did before to get the last few doughnuts possible. (Alternately you can follow me down to Braid Town: I take the scraps and roll them into little snakes – usually there are 5. I press the ends together and then kind of squint/cross my eyes and try to see patterns that if repeated will create a coherent braid. It’s really fun. I pinch the end of this creation and smush both ends together so that it forms a circle. I fry this one huge braid first because – whatever. It’s a one-off weird thing and it will be good to practice frying something once before the real doughnuts are up. It’s also fun to have one big doughnut that can be sliced and shared at the table, but it is prone to failure, so do as you wish.)
- With a slotted spatula or spoon gently lower a doughnut into the hot lard and follow with another one or two depending on the size of your pot. (You may need to turn the heat up a little to account for the cooling affect of the cold dough.) Monitor the lard temperature closely. The ideal frying temperature is between 360-365F. The doughnuts will sink beneath the surface of the lard initially but come bobbing back to the surface as they cook. Flip each doughnut once every minute. The doughnuts will take approximately 4 minutes to complete cooking. Remove each doughnut with a slotted spoon and place on the paper towel lined rack to the right of your fry pot to cool. Repeat this process until all the doughnuts you cut have been fried. Now fry your holes about 9 at a time. Holes also take approximately 4 minutes to cook. The best results come from stirring the lard constantly with two chopsticks so that the holes are able do somersaults and cook evenly on all sides.
- If you plan to adorn your doughnuts wait until they have cooled slightly and get creative. Toss them in cinnamon sugar? Sprinkle with powdered sugar? Make a basic glaze? To do this, whisk a tablespoon or two of milk, half and half, or cream into a ½ cup of sifted powdered sugar. Mix vigorously until the glaze is smooth and then dip the tops of each doughnut into the glaze, shaking off the excess. Now you can take your glaze to Flavor Town! Add citrus zest, or vanilla, or finely ground coffee, or cocoa powder, or sprinkles! We can’t wait to see what you do with your doughnuts.