It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.
I’m not even sure I should be telling you about this. Please understand that I do this in the spirit of love and deliciousness, and not in the spirit of helping you button your jeans. Are you familiar with Angel Biscuits? They’re the quirky cousin of a traditional biscuit. They’re buttery, flaky, and tender, just like regular biscuits, but they have the added magic of yeast.
More: Before you start baking, ogle these donuts.
Yeast works wonders for a biscuit. It helps them to rise beautifully, lends a delicious flavor, and changes their texture ever-so-slightly, giving the interior a downier, softer feel. The yeast also manages to do what I thought was impossible: It creates a biscuit that is still completely delicious the next day.
As if all this wasn’t enough, I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would be like to fry that dough. If canned biscuit dough can produce a donut of passable quality, can you imagine what honest-to-goodness homemade biscuit dough would do? And what if that dough had the best qualities of both a good, buttery biscuit and a yeasted donut? I couldn’t help myself. I had to find out.
I was not disappointed. As soon as the first round hit the oil, I knew I was in for a treat. I could see the layers of dough puffing up into a crispy, tender, yeasty donut. I could smell the butter in the dough sizzling and taking on nutty, caramelized notes. When I cut into one, still warm, I could see every flaky layer. It looked like a poor-man’s cronut. And it tasted even better.
I had some spare blackberry purée in my kitchen when these came out of the frying pan, so I made a quick glaze and used it to top them. Honestly, though, I think a simple dusting of powdered or cinnamon sugar might be better. The texture and taste of these is so good, you won’t want anything to get in its way.
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter
Oil, for frying
Mix the yeast into the room-temperature milk, and set it aside while you assemble the rest of the ingredients. Place all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. Mix briefly to combine.
Cut the cold butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and add it to the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed for about 2 minutes, or until the butter is mostly incorporated into the flour, with some larger flakes of butter still visible.
Take the mixture further than you would for traditional biscuits or a pie dough: Most of the butter should be incorporated into the flour. Add the milk and yeast to the mixer, and mix on a medium speed, just until the mixture starts to cohere and there is no dry flour in the bottom of the bowl. Dump the mixture out onto a floured surface, and pat and knead it together until it forms a smooth ball.
Roll the dough out to about 1/2-inch thickness, and use a donut cutter (or a biscuit cutter and a piping nozzle) to cut out as many donuts as you can. With a 3-inch cutter, you should end up with 10 biscuits after you have re-rolled the dough scraps twice.
Set aside your donuts and donut holes in a cool place for 30 minutes so that the yeast can activate. Unlike traditional yeast baking, you do not want to put this dough in a warm spot, as that would cause the butter in the biscuit dough to melt, which would make it very tough to work with.
When the donuts have had their 30-minute rest, heat about 2 inches of oil in a wide, deep pan, and bring it up to 350° F (170° C). Alternatively, you can place one of the donut holes into the cold oil. When the donut hole turns golden brown, the oil will be hot enough to fry in.
Place the donuts, a few at a time, into the hot oil (fewer is better -- you don't want the oil to bubble over). They need about 1 1/2 minutes per side.
When they have turned a dark golden brown and puffed up to about twice their size, they are ready. Carefully remove the donuts from the oil, and place them on a cooling rack or some paper towel to drain. Once they're all cooked, you can either toss the donuts in cinnamon or powdered sugar, or glaze them. I used a mixture of puréed blackberries and powered sugar to top mine.
Photos by Sarah Coates