Grandma's old fashioned donut recipes make the best donuts imaginable. So fresh and so crispy! They taste so much better than the store-bought kind when they are homemade. Why not get the family together and make some donuts tonight?
Mom's Recipe Scrapbooks (c. 1920s)
Success in making a good fried donut depends as much on the cooking as the mixing. In the first place, there should be boiling lard enough to free them from the bottom of the kettle, so that they swim on the top.
Also, the lard should never be so hot as to smoke or so cool as not to be at the boiling point; if it is, they soak grease and are spoiled.
If it is at the right heat, the donuts will in about ten minutes be of a delicate brown outside and nicely cooked inside.
Try the fat by dropping a bit of the dough in first; if it is right, the fat will boil up when it is dropped in. They should be turned over almost constantly, which causes them to rise and brown evenly.
Wooden skewers come in handy for turning donuts in the hot fat. Some cooks find them handier than tongs for the purpose.
When they are sufficiently cooked, raise them from the hot fat and drain them on a wire rack until every drop ceases dripping.
1 Egg, 1 cup milk, 1-1/3 cups sugar, 2 teaspoonfuls cream of tartar, 1 teaspoonful baking soda, piece of butter the size of a walnut, 1/4 teaspoonful cinnamon (or nutmeg), pinch of salt, and flour enough to roll soft.
Beat the egg and sugar together and add the milk and butter. Stir the soda and cream of tartar into the flour, dry; mix all together, with the flour and salt. Roll and cut into doughnut rings, and fry in deep fat. Lay them on brown paper to cool when you take them from the fat.
Eat them plain or sprinkle with granulated sugar if desired. Enjoy them while they are warm and fresh.
One egg, one cup of sugar, two tablespoons of butter, beaten together till creamy. Add one cup of sweet milk, a pinch of salt, two teaspoons of baking powder stirred into two cups of flour. Add one-half teaspoon of ginger and one-fourth teaspoon of nutmeg to the flour.
Beat well, roll out about one-fourth of an inch thick. Cut out all the cakes before beginning to fry.
Cook in deep fat that will fry a small walnut-sized ball of the dough in about sixty-five seconds. Do not let the fat get above that degree of heat.
One teaspoonful of soda, two cups of sugar, three spoonfuls cream of tartar, one pint of milk, and flour enough to roll them out in. Fry in hot lard, as also the proceeding. —Mrs. Goodfellow's Cookery
One cup of sugar, 1 cup of milk;
Two eggs, beaten, as fine as silk;
Salt and Nutmeg, (lemon 'll do);
Baking powder, teaspoons two;
Lightly stir the flour in,
Roll on pie-board — not too thin,
Cut in diamonds, twists or rings,
Drop with care the doughy things,
Into fat that briskly swells,
Evenly the spongy cells,
Fry them brown, just short of burning,
Watch with care the time for turning,
Roll in Sugar, Eat when cool,
Price a quarter for this rule. —Sara E. Zook
Crisco® Shortening, Ladies Home Journal, 1918
To make Wartime Barley Donuts you need:
1 tablespoon melted Crisco® (shortening)
1/4 cupful honey
1/4 cupful corn syrup
3/4 cupful buttermilk
3-1/2 cupfuls barley flour (or whole wheat)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda (baking soda)
1/4 cup chopped nuts
Cream together the melted Crisco®, honey and syrup. Add the egg beaten very light, and the buttermilk mixed with the soda.
Mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and add to the mixture. Lastly, add the chopped nuts.
Roll out on a floured board to one-quarter inch thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter and fry in Crisco® until a golden brown.
If you use a thermometer, the temperature should be 360°F. Raisins, currents, figs, or dates may be used to vary the recipe.
The White House Cook Book (1913)
Three eggs, one cupful of sugar, a pint of sweet milk, salt, nutmeg and flour enough to permit the spoon to stand upright in the mixture; add two heaping teaspoonfuls of baking powder to the flour; beat all until very light.
Drop dough by the dessertspoonful into boiling lard. These will not absorb a bit of fat and are not at all rich, and consequently are the least injurious of this kind of cakes.
These donuts, eaten fresh and warm, are a delicious breakfast dish and are quickly made.
One pint of milk, four eggs, one small tablespoonful of melted butter, flavoring, salt to taste; first boil the milk and pour it, while hot, over a pint of flour; beat it very smooth and when it is cool have ready the yolks of the eggs well beaten; add them to the milk and flour, beaten well into it, then add the well-beaten whites; then, lastly, add the salt and as much more flour as will make the whole into a soft dough.
Flour your board, turn your dough upon it, roll it in pieces as thick as your finger and turn them in the form of a ring; cook in plenty of boiling lard. A nice breakfast cake with coffee.
A New Book of Cookery (1912)
4 cups flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 nutmeg, grated
3/4 cup milk
Mix and sift dry ingredients, add eggs, well beaten, and milk, the amount required being about three-fourths cup, sometimes more but never as much as a cup. Toss on a slightly floured board, pat, roll, shape, and fry.
Remove doughnuts from fat, using a two-tined fork, and pass quickly through water kept at the boiling point. The fork must be wiped each time before putting into fat.
Dr. Chase's Third, Last and Complete Receipt Book (1891)
Sugar, 1 cup; butter, 1/2 cup; 4 eggs; flour, 3-1/2 cups; milk, 1 cup; cream of tartar, 2 teaspoonfuls; soda, 1 teaspoonful; salt, 1 teaspoonful; nutmeg, to taste.
Directions: Beat sugar and eggs together, with the cream of tartar and butter in the flour; dissolve the soda in the milk, then add it to the eggs and sugar, then the flour; roll out thin, cut and fry in hot lard.
Take the same mixture as for plain doughnuts, roll it out rather thinly and stamp into rounds, put a little raspberry jam on half the rounds, brush the edges with water and cover with the remainder, press them firmly together and fry in hot fat five minutes. Sprinkle with sugar.
Here's an idea for a donut-style treat. Use your favorite old fashioned donut recipe, but instead of cutting donut shapes, take bits of the dough and wrap them around pieces of fruit. Apple slices and berries are totally delicious inside a fruity fried donut!
On a cold winter's evening, Mom would sometimes select one of the old fashioned donut recipes from her recipe box, heat some lard on the kitchen stove, and deep fry a big batch of donuts.
She used a ring-shaped cookie cutter to cut them, but sometimes she cut the dough into other cookie shapes for me as well.
Almost any simple shape can be used for donuts as long as it's small enough to enable proper frying overall. If the shape is too large, the centers will end up being doughy. That's why donuts have holes!
It was so much fun watching the rings of dough bobbing around in the boiling lard while they were frying, and the warm, crispy donuts tasted so good when done. Now, you can enjoy making them for your family.
Everyone wants to help when you make them, but watch out for the little ones when they are around the deep fryer. You don't want them to get splashed by the hot oil.
You can always substitute your favorite cooking oil for the lard if you prefer in the old fashioned donut recipes. However, the lard (fat) does lend its distinctive old time flavor and crispness.
Homemade donuts are delicious to eat on any occasion. They always go good with a morning coffee! And while they do take some time to prepare and deep fry, all that's forgotten once you experience the amazing homemade taste.
Did you ever wonder where the first donuts originated? Well, believe it or not, the Bible's Old Testament records in Leviticus 7:12 that the priest offered with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, "cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried" — donuts?
Seriously, there are numerous theories and legends, but it is believed by many food historians that donuts first appeared in Germany and Holland as cooks dropped leftover bits of dough into boiling oil or fat, which they called olie koeken (oily cakes) or oliebollen (fat balls).
Some Dutch bakers shaped their oily cakes into fancy knots (dough-knots) and rolled them in sugar after frying.
Also, European bakers made small cakes called jumbles that often had a hole in the middle, and it is only natural that some would make their dough-knots with a hole in the middle too.
The hole is practical in that it permits the jumbles and donuts to cook uniformly without having a semi-cooked, doughy center.
Soon, the old fashioned donut recipes became sought after as people sought to duplicate the tasty treat in their own kitchens.