4 1/2teaspoonsSAF Instant yeastor 2 envelopes active dry yeast
1/4cupwarm water105 to 115 degrees
1 1/2cupslukewarm milksee note above
5 1/2cupsall-purpose flour
1quartvegetable oil for frying
Vanilla Butter Glaze
4tablespoonshot water or as needed
1 1/2cupspowdered sugarsifted
Simple White Glaze
1teaspoonclear vanilla extract
1 1/2tablespoonsground cinnamon
Just powdered sugar! :)
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and gently stir to get all the yeast wet. Let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
In a large mixer bowl with paddle attachment on low speed, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed (or you can stir with a wooden spoon). Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl.
On a lightly floured surface, knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with a clean towel or cloth. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes or so.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter and place on large cookie sheets. Cover doughnuts with a cloth or towel and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Add enough oil or shortening to a cast iron Dutch oven* to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350° F, then WAIT. Wait several minutes and make sure it's going to stay at 350 F. If it goes up, turn the heat down. Get it to where the temp will stay around 350 F, THEN proceed with cooking your doughnuts. Cooking at too high of a temperature will overcook the exterior and undercook the interior.
Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.
Carefully slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula, do not crowd. 3 doughnuts should fit comfortably in a standard Dutch oven. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown, a minute or so per side. Remove from hot oil, to drain on paper towels or a wire rack.
Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up. Dip the finished doughnuts as the next batch is frying. Place the dipped doughnuts on a waiting cookie sheet.
* Cast iron retains its heat better and more evenly than other vessels, which is why it's my pan of choice for frying. You can certainly use a deep fryer, I just hate all the major clean up with those, so I stick with the Dutch oven.
For the Vanilla Butter Glaze, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in confectioners' sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in hot water one tablespoon at a time until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery.
For the chocolate glaze, maple glaze and simple white glazes, stir their ingredients together, adding extract and 2 tablespoons of milk first, then adding more milk as needed to get a thick glaze.