When I was a little girl my mother had a special grey recipe box she kept in the cupboard. I loved this box because it was full of mostly handwritten recipe cards which represented some of the very best, most special recipes we made every year. One of my favorite recipes from this box was the recipe called Fern’s Spudnuts. This one was written down by my grandmother Lucy Cornaby and was a recipe for amazing potato doughnuts. These doughnuts were amazing. These doughnuts were light, but just chewy enough to be satisfying, and moist and there were so many ways to top them from a good cinnamon sugar shake to chocolate glaze.
After I moved out (many moons ago) I started a tradition of making doughnuts every fall. It wasn’t ever always the same weekend, but somewhere between September and the end of November one Saturday would become homemade doughnut day. Now, as I mentioned, these doughnuts were fantastic with the recipe as written, however, the one problem was that it meant I had to have mashed potatoes on hand. I tried it once with the packaged mashed potatoes to hurry things up and that was a complete disaster. Still edible, let’s not be silly, but the richness wasn’t there and they were just…not as good. And while it’s not like making mashed potatoes is that big of a deal it was just kind of a pain. Then brilliance struck. I had half a can of leftover pumpkin from some pumpkin cookies and I decided to swap that into my doughnuts in place of the potatoes.
It was lovely. The pumpkin gave the same richness and moisture to the dough and a slight natural sweetness, but not anything overwhelming. It colored the dough a little, but once fried you really couldn’t tell the difference. So pumpkin doughnuts have become my go to now. I always add a few Tablespoons of E-Z Gel too as E-Z Gel helps supercharge the yeast, and helps the doughnuts hold for an extra day or two… making the huge assumption that there are any left that long.
Pumpkin Doughnuts with E-Z Gel
1/2 cup warm water (about 103 degrees or what you’d like in a nice warm bath)
2 Tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups warm milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract – to taste
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 cup pumpkin
3 Tablespoons E-Z Gel
3 eggs, beaten
5-6 cups of flour – I like a mixture of All purpose and bread flour
Combine warm water, yeast and 1/2 teaspoon E-Z Gel and set aside to proof.
Beat together butter, sugar and salt. Add warm milk, vanilla, extract, spice and pumpkin and mix until well combined. Sprinkle in E-Z Gel and beat well. Add eggs and mix. Add flour until a slightly sticky medium dough is achieved. Move dough to a greased bowl and let rise for 1 hour until double in size. Punch down and let rise a second time. Roll out on a clean counter using additional flour as necessary and punch out doughnut shapes. Let rise for 10 minutes before frying in 350 degree oil (peanut or canola works really well for this. If you control your temperature well you’ll get crispy exterior, chewy exterior and not much grease absorption). Fry in small batches and move to cooling racks set over trays. Paper towels can be put on the trays to wick away any additional oil. Dip into sugar or a light glaze and serve.