Homemade doughnuts can become more than an occasional treat — once you know the tricks of the trade.
FRYING (AND OIL): Sometimes the amount of oil that is needed for frying doughnuts — or anything else — can seem intimidating, especially when you aren’t sure what to do with it when you’re finished frying. The simple answer is that you can reuse the oil for future frying, usually several times, if it’s properly stored.
First, be sure to keep the original container; if you don’t have it anymore, then you can use a large glass jar with a lid. After you’ve finished frying, remove any large bits of fried debris, cover the pot, and let the oil cool back down to room temperature. Place a funnel lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter on top of the oil container and strain the oil into it. Seal and store in a cool, dark place or, in hot weather, in the refrigerator. To dispose of the cooking oil, chill it in the refrigerator so it solidifies, then discard with your garbage.
FREEZING: You can freeze both the dough and the fried, unglazed doughnuts. For the dough, cut out the doughnuts, let them proof (along with any scraps), place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid, then store in the freezer in plastic zip-top bags. Let them defrost completely at room temperature before frying. For the cooked doughnuts, follow the same freezing process, then defrost fully and microwave on LOW for 10 seconds before eating.
STORING: It’s not often you hear this, but glazed doughnuts are best kept in the open air to keep them from weeping or becoming soggy. Doughnuts can hang around (as if!) for up to two days, placed on a baking rack to provide complete air circulation. You can pop them in the microwave for 10 seconds to perk them up.
TIMING: Depending upon your cooktop and whether it’s gas, electric or induction, you may have to adjust the frying times. Bottom line, you’re looking for a golden brown exterior, and this may take anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes per side, so keep a close eye on the doughnut while it’s frying and pull it out when you’ve got the optimal color. Test the frying time with a couple of scraps or doughnut holes first; keeping the oil temperature between 325 and 350 degrees should help keep the doughnuts from going over to the dark side.
GLAZING: You’ll want to make a lot of glaze — about double what you think you need — to coat each doughnut completely. It won’t go to waste and can be refrigerated for months. The flavor is easy to change up by adding fresh citrus zest, substituting lemon or other types of fruit juice for the water or adding fresh herbs and spices.
FLAVORING: The accompanying recipe makes a double batch of dough and yields a few scraps, so you may like to try savory applications, too. (The small amount of vanilla bean in the dough does not skew sweet.) You can toss just-fried doughnuts or holes with olive oil or melted butter, Parm and crushed red pepper flakes, or make a monkey bread.