Deep-Fried Discs of Delectable Dough
So, today is a day of rest (not really, with the wood pile still waiting, but I like the concept). I was inspired by our long-time schooner cook Mary Barney’s doughnut recipe to try my own hand at it. Mary Barney is famous up and down the coast for her baking. Used to be when she lived out on Monhegan Island she would make doughnuts for the fishermen and women on trap day, the first day of their fishing season. She worked 25 summers at the Trailing Ewe and made doughnuts everyday. That’s alot of doughnuts. I work with a fella down at our local volunteer ambulance service that lived on Monhegan for a time while Mary was there. Luke still asks for Mary’s doughnuts.
Today I am trying the chocolate version.
Because these doughnuts take extra work the night before, and take up space on the cookstove that morning, Mary might only make these once a month, typically for some of our special event 6-day cruises, like Race Week, Sweet Chariot, and Wooden Boat.
We make our doughnuts in an old 12" cast iron frying pan on our wood cookstove. Whatever you use it helps to have room to gently lay the doughnuts in without splashing the grease or deep frying your finger tips. We use enough vegetable shortening to have a 2" deep pool for frying. In the old days folks used leftover grease from the tin kept under the kitchen sink. Grandma never wasted a thing. Nothing about doughnuts is heart healthy, but you will be surprised by how little oil you lose in the frying process. I just have to remind myself that I don't have to eat the entire batch. That is tough when you are looking at a pile of fresh doughnuts.
Our little boy, Sawyer loves rolling and cutting out the dough on a floured board. We have a doughnut cutter that creates a 3" circle, complete with hole in the center. We cook those too or you can roll them back into more doughnuts. If you don't have a doughnut cutter use a couple of different size glasses. You will know the oil is hot enough when your doughnuts sink momentarily and then rise immediately back to the surface. It does take the grease time to get up to temperature but don't let the grease get so hot that your doughnuts splatter grease everywhere on contact. A light sizzle will do. When they are golden brown we gently flip them with a long handled 2 tine fork, like comes with your barbecue. When you are done set your pan aside and when it is cool you can carefully pour the grease off into a suitable container with a lid and stick it in the refrigerator to reuse next time. If you don't want to store the hardened shortening you can mix in bird seed while it is still liquid and make suet cakes for the birds.
Making doughnuts is a big family event in our house just as it is on those special occasions when Mary makes them aboard the schooner and folks linger longer around the coffee pot. Passengers can't help but sneak down into the galley to see how Mary performs this simple wonder. It gives our family a few hours on a Sunday morning to listen to folk music on the local community radio station, chat about the big "goings on" at school and generally have some relaxed family time. Believe you me, what kid (or adult) is going to leave the warmth of the kitchen with the prospect of fresh doughnuts on the horizon? It is that special time together on the quarterdeck or in the kitchen at home that is the true wonder of this recipe. Who said doughnuts can’t be good for you?
Mary learned this recipe from Dint Day, hence Dint’s Doughnuts.