Sunday, February 10, 2008

Dunkin' Donuts or Starbucks? Either Goes with Homemade Doughboys

Long before Starbucks, long before McDonald's began serving Starbucks-like lattes, there was Dunkin' Donuts.

Dunkin' Donuts is the epitome of the Northeast -- not fancy, just fast and reliable. I can remember on frigid, gray winter days, your eyes would tear and your nose would run from the biting wind while you waited in the line that snaked out the door.

You didn't mind, though, because the girls behind the counter worked with lightening speed. By the time you made it to the register, you were ready to bark out your order: "Yeah, gimme a dozen donuts. Mixed. And I'll take tree cauffees, two wit cream and shugah, and one black." Five seconds later your order was ready.

I was thinking about Dunkin' Donuts this past Wednesday while I was in line at the La Jolla Boulevard Starbucks. A woman in front of me, who was wearing enormous Chanel sunglasses, tried to place an order:

"Um, I'll have a skinny double mocha latte. And I'll have. Umm. Let's see. Are there nuts in the low-fat blueberry muffins? OK. Ummmmm. Does the cranberry bread have flaxseed in it?"

I thought to myself, "Dear God, if she were in the Branch Avenue Dunkin' Donuts right now (where I have stopped a thousand times in my life), the people in line would have physically carried her out the door and left her in the freezing parking lot still holding her debit card.

Branch Avenue Dunkin' Donuts, Providence, RI

I told Jeff the story when he got home, and we started reminiscing about Dunkin' Donuts, gray New England winters, and how many years have passed since we had a donut. Since I couldn't run out to Dunkin' Donuts to get Jeff a jelly stick (they don't exist in San Diego), and didn't really want to make donuts, I did what my mom would do: I made doughboys.

Jeff and I haven't eaten or made doughboys in over 10 years. So when I announced to him that I was making them this past Saturday, he said, “I don't believe it.” “No, really, I am. It’s for a blog event featuring fried sweets,” I said. “I still don't believe it."

It wasn't until I poured the oil in the pan that it sunk in: "Oh, my god, you really are making doughboys," he said.

As I was forming the doughboys, I pulled a hole in the middle of each one. Jeff looked at me, confused. “What are you doin’?” “I’m making the doughboys, hon.” “But why are you making holes in them?” he asked. “Cause my mother always made hole in them,” I said. “Well, my mother never put holes in them. Looks like we got ourselves a doughboy domestic here,” he said.

Imagine, almost 13 years of marriage, and I never knew he liked his doughboys without holes in the middle. So we did what any successfully married couple would do: we made both. Now you decide how you want to make yours.

I'm sending my doughboys to talented bakers Peabody and Helen who are hosting an event called (a la Dunkin' Donuts) Time to Make the Donuts! That's right, they want your sweet, fried treats by Feb. 12th and will post a round-up on the 15th; so hurry!

Makes approximately 8-10 doughboys.
Print recipe only here.

1 pound basic pizza dough
1 cup canola or peanut oil, for frying
ground cinnamon
granulated sugar or powdered sugar

Lightly roll out a room-temperature pound of pizza dough, just enough to smooth it out and make it easier to work with. Don't over-roll or overwork it, or the doughboys won't puff up nicely. Using your hands, form 8-10 doughboys, with or without holes. Don't worry if they're not exactly the same-- they're not meant to be perfectly shaped or uniform in size.

Use canola or peanut oil since they have a high smoke point. Pour oil, about 2 inches deep, into a deep, wide pan over medium heat (or to 350 degrees if you have a deep-fry thermometer). Otherwise, test the heat by dropping a little piece of dough into the oil. It should quickly bounce to the surface and be surrounded by tiny bubbles. Add 1-2 doughboys at a time, making sure they have room to float in the oil. Using tongs, gently flip doughboys in the oil until they puff up, float, and turn golden brown, about 30-60 seconds.

For toppings, either sprinkle with powdered sugar or with a mixture of granulated sugar and ground cinnamon. And make sure to eat 'em while they're hot!

Homemade Basic Pizza Dough
Makes about 2 pounds of dough.
Print recipe only here.
1 packet of active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups of warm water
5-6 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dissolve in 2 cups of warm water yeast, sugar, and salt. Using a spoon, gently blend. Add 5 cups of all-purpose flour and 2 tablespoons of olive oil to start. Blend just a little bit with a spoon; then, using your hands, transfer to a floured surface.
Knead well—adding flour if it’s too sticky—until the dough becomes springy and smooth. It should take a good 5-10 minutes of vigorous kneading. It will be soft and silky when done.
Place the dough in a large, clean bowl coated with olive oil or cooking spray, and rub some olive oil on top of the dough. Cover with a clean, dry dishtowel and let rise until doubled in size (at least 2 hours). Once it’s risen, punch it down.
Leftover dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Coat the inside of a Ziploc bag with some Pam and drop the dough in; that way it doesn’t stick to the plastic. Allow to come to room temperature before rolling out.

Tips for making good doughboys:

*Use the freshest dough possible for lighter, puffier doughboys.
*Make sure the dough is room temperature, not cold.
*Don't overwork the dough when forming the doughboys, or they won't be as light and airy.
*Use an oil with a high heat point, like canola or peanut.
*Don't over-fry the doughboys or they'll quickly become too brown and hard.

You might also like:
Homemade Pizza with Fennel Sausage and Rapini
Spinach, Nutmeg, and Ricotta Calzone
Potato, Rosemary, and Gorgonzola Pizza

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