My parents make specific requests of my sister and me for our time home together over the Christmas holiday. My sister, now that she is Seattle’s Queen of Ice Cream (a title I’ve given her solely because she’s earned it) is tasked with bringing at least a dozen pints of ice cream on the plane with her from Seattle to Los Angeles. It seems like an arduous task that involves dry ice and for that we are all so so grateful. I show my deep appreciation by hiding a pint of her Lemon Bar Ice Cream in the back of the freezer in hopes that no one will dig it out for themselves.
I’ll be tasked with making a dessert – an old family classic like Texas Sheet Cake or my dad’s pie crusts. Much easier, it all requiring far less dry ice. This year I’m coming in strong with the doughnut game. Fresh fried, after church, Christmas morning doughnuts. (My mom is reading this and she’s into it – I already know.)
The only right thing to do will be to combine my sister’s ice cream with fresh fried doughnuts. The audacity to call this breakfast will be our Christmas gift to each other as we count our many many blessings.
Today, in lieu of ice cream, homemade cranberry jam.
We’ve got all sorts of doughnut options for you around here if these cranberry jammers are your deal:
These doughnuts come together in three parts, but really – I promise, nothing is too complex:
- the doughnut dough is an everything-in-the-mixer kind of move after the yeast has been activated with a bit of warm water and a pinch of sugar.
- the cranberry sauce simmers on the stovetop with sugar, water and orange peel.
- the orange sugar which includes bright orange zest and all sorts of cozy spies to coat the fried doughnuts.
The dough needs time to rest – so that’s where we’ll start.
I use a stand mixer for this recipe because the dough is more wet than dry. It’s rich with milk, butter, and egg yolks and it’s easiest to knead and work the gluten in a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
First the flour, followed by sugar and salt.
Warm spices bring life to the doughnut dough so a dash of ground cinnamon is in order.
Atop the dry ingredients we’ll layer the wet ingredients, starting with egg yolks at room temperature and the bubbly activated yeast.
No need to mix anything yet, we’re just getting everything in the bowl.
Whole milk that’s been warmed to no longer cold. We want to keep things warm to keep the yeast alive and happy.
Softened, chunked butter will work its fat magic through the dough too.
Give the dough hook a head start. Rough mix the the ingredients together in the bowl of the stand mixer using a spatula. The mixture will get to shaggy and give the dough hook something to hold on to.
The dough is wet. The bottom of the dough will stick to the bottom of the bowl and wind its way around the dough hook, slapping against the side as it mixes.
Give the dough a test. Stop the mixer and press your finger against the dough. If the dough sticks to your finger, add a bit more flour. If the dough is moist but not sticky – you’re doing just fine. Mix it up for 5 to 7 minutes.
Knead on a lightly floured counter for a turn or two to bring the dough into a cohesive and happy ball.
I usually kiss it before it goes into the bowl to rest but that’s me and I’m a little crazy for this dough.
Allow the dough to rest until it’s doubled in size. Depending on the temperature of the kitchen this could take an hour or an hour and a half. Easy – there’s cranberry sauce and spiced sugar to make!
Cranberries are the gems of the season so let’s simmer them to a sauce with a bit of sugar and a pinch of salt.
A strip of orange rind to add some roundness to the tart cranberry flavor.
We’re bringing the orange flavor into the coating-sugar, too!
Zest the orange into the sugar. I used a rimmed baking sheet – this is where the fried doughnuts will get their sugar shower.
Cinnamon and allspice, nutmeg and cloves.
Rub the mixture together to disperse the spices and release the oils from the orange peel. It makes for the most holiday fragrant sugar!
After the dough has doubled in size, pour it out onto a clean counter and give it a pat on the back. It’s tender and strong, my favorite dough of all.
Roll gently into about a 3/4-inch thickness.
And use a 2 1/2 to 3 inch round biscuit cutter to cut doughnut rounds.
Transfer little dough rounds to a parchment lined baking sheet while the oil heats and the doughnuts regain their puff before frying.
Fry about 1 minute on each side. They’ll fluff and puff. Fry until golden and immediately shower in spiced sugar on all sides.
We’re so close we can almost taste it!
I use the back if a spoon to gently make a space in the top of each doughnut, breaking though the top layer into the soft insides to create a space for a spoonful of cranberry.
One generous spoonful each.
Enjoy as fresh as possible, as soon as you can hold them and spoon cranberry sauce inside.
They’e best the day they’re made but that shouldn’t be a problem because doughnuts, when they are present, are an exercise in being present.
Enjoy and happy holidays!Print
For the Doughnuts:
- 2 teaspoons warm water (about 105 degrees)
- 1 (¼-ounce) package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
- 3 1/2 to 3¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
- 1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
- ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 cups vegetable oil, for frying
For the Cranberry Jam:
- 1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- pinch of salt
- 2 orange peel slices
For the Orange Sugar:
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- To make the doughnuts, in a small bowl, stir together the warm water and yeast until the yeast is dissolved. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If the yeast doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the yeast mixture, flour, milk, butter, egg yolks, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Beat at low speed until a soft dough forms. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat 3 minutes more. The dough will be soft and sticky. If it’s too sticky to handle, add up to ½ cup more flour.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl and then lightly sprinkle the dough with flour (to keep a crust from forming). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Put the bowl in a warm place and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, 1½ to 2 hours.
- To make the cranberry sauce, in a medium saucepan combine cranberries, sugar, water, salt, and orange peel. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low and the cranberries pop and cook down. Simmer for 10 minutes, until berries have broken down and sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat and remove orange peels. Set aside until doughnuts are fried.
- To make the spied sugar, spread the sugar on a small rimmed baking sheet. Add the orange zest and spices and use your fingers to work the zest into the sugar, creating a fragrant sugar. Set aside until the doughnuts are fried along with the cranberry sauce.
- Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round that’s ½ inch thick. Cut out as many rounds as possible with a 3-inch cutter (or a doughnut cutter, if you prefer a hole in the middle) and transfer the doughnuts to a lightly floured baking sheet. Do not reroll scraps (they’ll make for tough doughnuts). Cover the doughnuts with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes.
- Heat 2½ inches of oil in a deep, 4-quart, heavy pot until it registers 350 degrees on a thermometer. Fry the doughnuts, 2 at a time, turning occasionally, until puffed and golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Quickly submerge the doughnuts in the hot oil, and then immediately transfer them to the spiced sugar Toss well, transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool.
- Return the oil to 350 degrees between batches and continue until all of the doughnuts are fried.
- Use the back of a spoon to make a small hole in the top of each sugar-coated doughnut. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of cranberry jam into each doughnut.
- Doughnuts are best served the day they are made. Enjoy them generously.