I don't know about you, but deep frying isn't one of those things I have always felt comfortable with. I have secret fears of pops of scalding oil in my eye or somehow burning down the house. I fret with how to get rid of all that oil when I'm done with with my frying, and how to keep my house from smelling like I live in a fried chicken joint. I know I'm not alone, because of the scores of baked mini doughnut recipes available on the web now. These cute little rings have a certain charm and and I can promise you when presented with a plateful, I certainly wouldn't turn up my nose at one or six. But really, baked cake doughnuts do not calm my jonesing for a real doughnut any more than a muffin will satisfy my craving a cupcake. There are times when you just need to indulge in the real thing.
After making dozens upon dozens of doughnuts for my first cookbook, I pretty much have gotten over those initial frying fears. I've learned that with careful temperature monitoring of the oil and a well working vent fan, my whole house doesn't end up smelling like a frier at the end of the batch. And, unlike working with hot sugar, I've never burned myself with hot oil. Not once!
And so, when the craving comes as it does every now and then I make a small batch of fried yeasted doughnuts. These doughnuts need a little bit of time, but are pretty foolproof. Lofted by yeast, they puff up beautifully creating a perfect "proof" line around the middle. A little bit of whole wheat flour makes for a more complex tasting pastry without sacrificing the lightness of the dough... but feel free to substitute the whole wheat flour with more bread flour if you choose. However, do use bread flour rather than all purpose flour for these doughnuts, or your texture won't be nearly as light and fluffy.
This batch, punched out a bit smaller than your typical filled doughnut, I've filled with a creamy and subtly sweet maple meringue. —Lara