Normally when I see these things, my spirits are lifted. I become giddy. I start searching for seeds to stick in the warming dirt. But this year I seem immune to that sort of spring fever.
I want nothing to do with spring yet because I feel cheated. What happened to winter? Where was the snow so deep we needed shovels? How about some snow cream and hot chocolate? And where, oh, where did all the snow angels go?
Don’t get me wrong; I hate cold. I dread dangerous roads, and I do not need the extra work of wiping up puddles of melted snow and drying all the snow clothes my children wear.
But there’s something about the absolute quiet of a deep snow, something pure about a white blanket tucking us all into our snug homes. I have missed that feeling this winter, so I’m not putting away the boots. The hats, gloves, and scarves still litter the living room floor when the baby drags them out of the tote that’s supposed to contain them. I refuse to give up hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to enjoy one big snow before spring comes to stay.
In a pastor’s household, spring is pretty much synonymous with Lent, a busier season with more church activity. In our house, we celebrate Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (or whatever you call the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday) by making donuts (or pancakes if we’re running out of time or counter space). We’ve tried lots of different recipes, but this one is special because it is the one my grandmother used.
While I don’t remember having them at Grandma’s, my mother remembers Grandma making these glazed donuts by the tableful on baking day. That’s impressive because, if you’ve never done it, frying doughnuts is time-intensive.
There’s also a learning curve with frying doughnuts; the oil needs to be just the right temperature. Grandma’s recipe doesn’t have a cooking temperature, but if you look around online, most opinions center somewhere around 375℉. We’ve found that if it’s too cold, the doughnuts become saturated with fat, and if it’s too hot, they brown too quickly to be done on the inside. Also, lard is our favorite oil for frying, but I’ve read that fat that’s solid at room temperature is best. So, if you don’t have lard, solid shortening will work fine.
If you’re up for the challenge and great reward of homemade doughnuts, enjoy! Feel free to update Grandma’s recipe if you have a stand mixer with a hook attachment instead of stirring by hand. Remember, this is a time-intensive recipe due to the rising times for the dough, so unless you plan on getting up before the crack of dawn, don’t plan on making these for breakfast before school or work.
Grandma’s Raised Doughnuts and Glaze
1/4 cup warm water
1 pkg. active dry yeast
3/4 cup lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup soft shortening (or butter)
3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups sifted flour
fat for frying
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, sugar, salt, egg, shortening and half of flour. Mix with spoon till smooth. Add remaining flour: mix with hands. Grease, cover, and let rise until doubled.
After dough has risen, roll it out on a floured surface to a thickness of about 1/4”. Cut out doughnuts in whatever shape you want. Let the doughnuts rise until doubled. Heat oil in a heavy and deep pot or deep-fryer to about 375℉. Fry donuts 2 or 3 at a time until browned on both sides, flipping once (about 2-3 minutes). Remove from fat with a slotted spoon and let drain on paper towels. (My directions--not in Grandma’s recipe.)
To glaze doughnuts: add 1/3 cup boiling water gradually to 1 cup confectioner’s sugar. Mix thoroughly. Dip warm doughnuts into the warm glaze.