A recipe for baked yeast doughnuts.
I don’t have a lot of strong memories from when I was a child. From the moment it happens, your history gets changed over the course of the years anyway; after countless recollections the truth gets a little hazy, then embellished and shined up. Either to match what we’ve become, or what we hoped our past years were like. In one way it might be considered perspective, although I think we just get tired of remembering so many things that we loosen the facts a little to give our poor brains a rest.
There is one fleeting snippet that often pops into my head, though I don’t know why. I’m in the kitchen of my grandparents’ house, legs swinging on a phone stool, and my grandfather is putting the finishing touches on a batch of baked doughnuts. This snapshot comes back to me again and again, and because there are no other memories of me in the kitchen with him, I have to wonder if it was real.
In my body it feels like it is real. The sun coming into the window, lighting the chocolate glaze on the doughnuts. The voices filtering in from the next room as the grown-ups rouse themselves with their mugs of coffee. My grandfather being patient and kind and funny with me, his blue eyes twinkling. It is a memory that is so beautiful in my mind, it drives me to tears.
You see, these days my grandfather is not doing so well. He is lucky in that he still lives in the same home I knew as a child, and that my father and uncle can be over in 10 minutes if needed. But his hearing has diminished, and those happy blue eyes are losing their light, taking away his ability to do the beadwork he has prided himself on for so long. Taking away a clear view of the future in the faces of his great-grandchildren.
My grandfather has always been somewhat of a folk hero to me, being Paul Bunyan and Tom Swift and Pa Ingalls rolled into one. He is ageless, as he often tries to prove by insisting he is still only two (to the delight of my older son, much as it was to my own delight at his age). I do not know anything but love for him.
That’s why this memory needs to be real. I need to be able to stand there, my adult-self leaning against the wall, watching my child-self and my grandfather enjoying a calm morning. Just making the doughnuts.
I have been searching for a baked yeast doughnut recipe for a long time, because of that memory. Oddly not too many exist, so it’s been a bit of a trial to get something to work. Not that I generally mind recipe testing such a treat, but one can get a bit tired of dough, you know?
I glazed these with semi-sweet chocolate melted with a bit of cream, but you can use any topping you like. They also work well as jelly doughnuts, with the fruit filling piped into the side (form a hole first with a chopstick or kitchen dowel) and then dusted with powdered sugar.
If you’re looking for a simple doughnut recipe for your baking pan, try these Strawberry Doughnuts.