how not to make cake doughnuts

When one becomes proficient at something, a skill or craft, it can be pretty simple to spot flaws in suggestions or new information. By virtue of having an excess of experience/prior knowledge at hand, you can avoid the pitfalls of the 'unknown' by simply sidestepping and making the necessary adjustments to be successful.

I can read a recipe (usually) and spot those pitfalls instantly. I could tell you if there was too much of one ingredient, not enough of another; not enough leavener, if the dough would turn out flat or dry, cakey, buttery, or silky smooth.

However, there's a caveat to that skill. Overconfidence in the source of a recipe can lead me down the merry path. I'll think to myself, Oh sure, I would do this differently, but I'm sure they tested this recipe and they wouldn't lead me astray.

Well, sometimes that works out in my favor. I might utilize a new technique, another skill to set aside to be used another day. Other times...not so much. 

I had this great idea in my head to make cake doughnuts while my sister was visiting. I just wanted to, and gosh darn it, I didn't care that I had never made them before. I read countless recipes, at least 100, before settling on one I was certain would be great. Coming from a food magazine I respect- one from which I have made many delicious items.

I had my doubts as I was reading it. So much butter in the batter? I thought to myself. Such a low temp for frying? But I plunged ahead, followed the recipe to a tee. And I was sorely disappointed. The doughnuts were flat, greasy pucks that just absorbed the oil and didn't have much flavor. I have resigned myself to trying again. I will fry another day...just you wait. But here are my tips for making a good cake doughnut, after learning my lesson the hard way. 

1. Be careful how much oil/fat is in the dough. Fat loves itself. All it wants to do is hang out with other fat and make fat friends. The more oil is in your batter, the more likely you are to have oil penetrating your dough as it fries. If you absolutely want to keep all that buttery goodness in your dough, adhere to tip #2!

2. Keep the dough chilled before frying, and try to keep it cold between batches. Cold fat meeting hot fat= crispy. Warm fat meeting hot fat= soggy and oily.

3. Check your temperature. Make sure you are frying at 350 or above- anything below that makes a soggy bottom. Trust me on this one. 

For now, all I have are pictures of my craggy, oily, doughnut disaster. But soon I will tinker with the recipe and come back victorious! Redemption will be mine. Sleep with one eye open, doughnuts.

Nothing like a mouth full of grease to start your day off right, amirite?!! Visual evidence: that dough is not raw. The dark areas visible there are pure peanut oil.

Nothing like a mouth full of grease to start your day off right, amirite?!! Visual evidence: that dough is not raw. The dark areas visible there are pure peanut oil.

Don't be like me. Trust your instincts. And stay tuned for the best cake doughnuts evar....once I come up with the recipe.