Homemade doughnuts: first attempt

One of Ella's birthday gifts this past December was this cookbook, right here:

What I've learned is this: the thing about getting a cookbook for your daughter is that she will want to cook all sorts of things from said cookbook.

I keep putting her off with comments like these:

Oh, yes, honey... let's make that sometime.

Why don't you write down the ingredients and mommy will try to get those at the store one of these days? (Knowing full well that the list will likely never get completed, and if it does, she will likely forget about it. I know. I'm awful.)

This morning I was giving Adelia her morning bottle, listening to Isaias play at the kitchen table, and waiting for Isaac to wake up. We were all in our pajamas. And then Ella plopped down next to me and began thumbing through The Dreaded Cookbook.

I knew exactly what was on her mind.

And please note: I refer to it as "dreaded" not because it's not a wonderful cookbook (It really is wonderful!) Rather, because at this stage of my life, breakfasts at our house consist of three options:
1. cold cereal. USUALLY, it's cold cereal.
2. Costco muffins.
3. little packets of oatmeal.

Basically, the less fuss, the better.

Just as I'd feared, Ella asked: "Mommy, can we make something for breakfast from my Little House Cookbook?"

I groaned inwardly, and my first thought was: "But we have Costco muffins in the house!!!"

But my desire to be a fun, creative mama (even at 9 months pregnant) topped even the Costco muffins. I asked her what she had in mind. She began earnestly looking for recipes.
---"Codfish Balls?"

I am not even joking.

I laughed, then realized that she was completely serious. (She doesn't know what those are. Well now. As a matter of fact, even I do not know what those are.) She had simply read aloud from the first page she flipped to. And I think she was a might desperate to take advantage of my apparent willingness. See, we've made NOTHING from this cookbook-- nearly 3 months after her birthday.

So I asked, "Ummm...Isn't there a breakfast-section?"

Finally she began reading off some other options. My ears considerably perked at the "Doughnuts" option.

I agreed to try them. Until I saw that the recipe called for LARD. (Something we don't happen to have on hand, EVER.) I quickly tried to think of a substitution for the lard. (Shortening? Oil?) I even looked in the back of the book for a list of substitutions. There were none. So I took over and began to look for another recipe. One recipe I skimmed also listed "lard" but then noted: "You can substitute butter for lard." Aha!

So we waited for Isaac to wake up, donned our aprons, and began making the doughnuts Almanzo's mother made him.

Here they are, in process:

And here are our first few, done. You might be thinking we got creative, there, with those darker doughnuts. Cinnamon? Chocolate? Oh, no. Those are just burnt. Or over-cooked. Whatever. The butter got too hot (seems you need a candy thermometer for making doughnuts. Something I had read but thought I could manage without), and I ended up having to toss that batch of heated butter out. And begin all over again with new butter. (We're talking 2 lbs of butter, here- that these doughnuts need to boil in. Which is (ahem) A LOT of butter.)

But just look at how much fun they're having, sprinkling powdered sugar on these doughnuts!!

Best part? They tasted good. Even for a first attempt. But I may invest in a candy thermometer for future attempts to avoid our little overheated-butter-mishap. (Although I'll have you know: the "burnt" ones did get eaten, every last one of them. The undercooked ones ALSO got eaten, by the way.)

If anyone is wanting the recipe, let me know. I'll post it later.


  1. Seriously, this is something that I could have written word for word except change recipes. Mollie received a cookbook a while back, and had the same conversations, (actually makes me feel so much better to know I'm not the only one.) I'm sure she thought she was never going to get to make one of those delicious recipes that covered the pages of her book. But with time, we have made a few recipes and now there are even a few that she can make all by herself!! I applaud you for not taking the easy road and going with the Costco muffins, I know it would have been a tough decision for me!! Have a fun last few days being pregnant!!!

  2. Good job Ma! We just got Arkansas Traveler and Happy Land, two CDs that are all songs Pa sang in the Little House books. So fun now, when we come to a song in the books and the kids know it! Hope these last weeks waiting for Baby go well for you dear friend. SO excited for you and your sweet family!

  3. I loved this, Stacy! You are so, I don't know, REAL - with how you describe things. I know exactly what you are saying! And you were such a good mommy to make the doughnuts. I love the picture with your little chefs. Recipe please?
    And I am eagerly waiting for a certain special post that will introduce us to your new baby!

  4. Aw, Ella is a little Laura! How sweet. And those doughnuts looks suspiciously like the ones my 80-year old mother used to make. But, hers were simply canned biscuits that she cut the middles out of with a kitchen knife. Then she deep-fried them and coated them in powdered sugar.

    YUM! I LOVE some old-timey cooking!

  5. Yummy! I want some!

    But I have to tell you, Almanzo once asked his ma why she didn't make her donuts into "o"s like the other ladies were doing. And ma said, "because if they are twists they turn themselves and I don't have time to fuss over turning donuts!" (not a direct quote) At which Almanzo declares that his ma's twists taste just as good as those other ladies' "o"s. I love that part so I had to share.

    Maybe, Laura's ma was one of those "other ladies." :)

  6. I'd love the recipe. We made donuts in our boys book group after we read Farmer Boy. That book makes you hungry for donuts! We got our recipe from Robert McClusky's Homer Price. We fried them in Canola oil (not too hot) and they turned out great.

    Love your blog. Can't wait to see your newest cherub!

    --Angie Smartt

  7. Ummm, first of all, you are amazing and adorable!!! I laughed out loud several times reading this post! And the answer is YES! I want the recipe! My mouth watered all the way through "Farmer Boy" and to see them in a picture is making me crazy...I love sugar anything. Way to go loving on your kids and reaching sweet Ella's heart, Stacy! You are a great encouragement to me.

  8. Ummm, first of all, you are amazing and adorable!!! I laughed out loud several times reading this post! And the answer is YES! I want the recipe! My mouth watered all the way through "Farmer Boy" and to see them in a picture is making me crazy...I love sugar anything. Way to go loving on your kids and reaching sweet Ella's heart, Stacy! You are a great encouragement to me.

  9. Hi Stacy;

    Your donuts looks wonderful. I can't believe you got them to come out at all, as butter has such a low burning point. I think they must have tasted awesome though...as butter has so much flavor.

    When I make them, I use vegetable oil. I reuse the oil (once its cool, I pour it into a container then refriderate it, until next 'fry' day.)

    What fun times at your house...how are you feeling?

    mama to 7
    one homemade and 6 adopted

  10. Carrie,
    Funny! I can't wait until Ella can follow a recipe all by herself. She still gets really confused by the "1/4's and 1/2's" in recipes, so I always have to be right there to check her work! :)

    Very fun-- the CDs! [But then my children would realize that I made up EVERY single one of those tunes as I read aloud. :)]

    Thanks, sweet you.
    And I'll try to post the recipe tomorrow. :)

    Yes, our Ella would sure like to be a little Laura!
    I'm sure your grandma's biscuit-doughnuts took less time than these! :)

    I remembered that, too- as we were making them. The cookbook just has an excerpt from Farmer Boy prior to the recipe, so that's why I called them "Almanzo's". Obviously we don't actually have Almanzo's mama's doughnut recipe; just a doughnut recipe pulled out of a cookbook from that same year or something.

    Thank you!
    And-- canola oil! Aha!
    We can't wait to meet our newest little one, either! :)

    Awww... thank you, sweet Kristen.

    Quite clearly I know very little about boiling butter. But yes! They totally turned out! :)

    "When I make them..." Listen to you! You are such a fun, creative mama, Kimmie!

    Thanks for the tip on the vegetable oil. You and Angie both are much more savvy than me on such things. :)

    Oh, and I'm feeling... READY. ~smile~



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