Way back in April, I started planning out my May bakes. I’ve talked about my monthly planning process before, but if you missed it – I usually plan the entire month of bakes all at once. Usually one or two things a week – something dessert-y and something breakfast-y/afterschool snack-y. It keeps me on track and help reduce decision fatigue throughout the month. Having too many options isn’t always a good thing, for me at least.
Anyway, I knew that I wanted to do something super fun for the last day of school for the boys (and for me! lol). Cake? (Did that last year for the last day of school, so meh.) Pie? (A possibility, but I make a lot of pie during the summer, so I didn’t want to overdo it right off the bat.) Donuts? Now here, we had a real possibility. I’ve only made homemade yeast donuts one other time and they were gooooood, but I wanted to do something kind of wild. I wanted to make donuts in the shape of letters. Donuts with a message!! Please don’t give me all the credit for this idea though. It’s not that original. I’ve seen donut shops make letter donuts, and I’m sure I saw it on Pinterest long ago. And when I was researching how to do it, I watched a few helpful YouTube video tutorials. But could I do it? Well, obviously, I gave it a shot and they turned out SO CUTE. You guys, the possibilities are endless here!! You could make any message you wanted! What a cute centerpiece for a baby shower, a birthday party, anniversary, graduation party, etc. I mean like I said…endless. I wanted to jot down a few notes here for future reference for you (and for me) if you ever decide you want to give letter donuts a try.
If you’d like to read the full recipe from the original source at Delish click here. I used the “how to make donuts at home” recipe and it did not disappoint. The recipe comments were especially helpful when thinking through how to make the dough the best it could be.
I will jot the recipe down here too, just in case it ever disappears from their website. I also plan to add this recipe to my family cookbook (I just write all of our “keeper” recipes in one notebook to have all together.). This is one I will make again. I’m including my edits to the recipe here (less flour in the dough, more milk in the glaze) so if you want the original, go to their site!
1 cup whole milk
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups plus 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying
1/3 cup whole milk
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Grease a large bowl with cooking spray and set aside. In a small, microwave-safe bowl add the milk. Microwave until lukewarm, 40 seconds. Add a teaspoon of sugar and stir to dissolve, then sprinkle over yeast and let sit until frothy, about 8 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together 4 cups of the flour and the salt.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat together remaining sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla.
Pour in yeast mixture, mix to combine, then add in dry ingredients, stirring until a shaggy dough forms.
Turn out onto to a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic and only slightly tacky, adding more flour a teaspoon at a time if needed, about 5 minutes.
Form into a tight ball then place dough in oiled bowl and cover with a clean dish towel. Let dough rise in a warm spot in your kitchen until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Alternatively if making letters: make sure that the donuts don’t lose their shape when moving them to the Dutch oven to fry, you can put donuts on individual squares of parchment paper and just gently tip them into the pot when you’re ready to fry.
Punch down dough, then turn onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a ½” thick rectangle. Using a donut cutter or 3” and 1” biscuit cutters OR letter cookie cutters, punch out your donut. Re-knead scraps together and punch out as well.
**To make letters, I just rolled out the dough a little thinner than 1/2″ and I used medium sized letter cookie cutters. The dough was a little tricky to get through all the way through cleanly with my plastic cookie cutters, so if you roll the rolling pin on top of the cookie cutters it forces it through and was so easy to get off. I think metal cookie cutters would probably work a little better if you need to buy some, but the plastic did work fine!
Place donuts and holes onto baking sheets, cover with dish towel, and let rise again, about 40 minutes more.
Make glaze: In a large bowl, whisk together milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
Line a large baking sheet with paper towels. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, heat 2” oil to 350°. Cook donuts, in batches, until deeply golden on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Holes and small shapes will cook even faster!
Transfer donuts to paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and cool slightly. Dip into glaze, then place onto a cooling rack (or eat immediately!).
I hope you guys try these!! In the shape of letters or not! They were declared delicious in our house.
Sources for the curious:
– My beloved enamel Dutch oven.
– I would like to be buried with my kitchen aid mixer.
– Best cookie sheets ever. I like the extra large size, but be forewarned that they are truly huge. If you’re short on space, look for this medium size.
– This candy thermometer has never done me wrong. This is one recipe you truly do need a thermometer for.
– Alphabet cookie cutters. Metal. Or plastic.
– We store all of our dry goods in jars. The gallon cracker size is great for bulk things like flour, sugar, pasta, rice. We use the half gallon size for whole wheat flour, snacks, cereal, etc. and then, these small latching jars are great for dry beans, lentils, quinoa, nuts, cocoa powder, etc.
– I always use this yeast brand.
– I use these enamelware mixing bowls every single day.
– The best cooking rack.
– I want these sweet plates for serving little treats.
– I don’t usually wear an apron when I bake, but maybe I should?! Well, on second thought, maybe I’ll just make my own.
– I’ve been looking for a cute storage solution for muffins, and other small baked goods (like donuts!) this is a good one.
Please also note this terrifying surprise I found in the cookie cutters. Life with three little boys is never dull!