In 1963, Sunset could assume that readers knew a lot about both yeasted dough and frying. There are far fewer bread bakers and deep-fat fry cooks roaming Western kitchens today, so we've rewritten the original recipe from 1963 with modern kitchens in mind. Letting the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator gives these doughnuts a rich and slightly tangy flavor. Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour, plus at least 4 hours of chilling and rising time. Notes: Experienced cooks know that the best frying results from watching the food and paying attention to how it looks and sounds. That's why this recipe contains guidelines for how the doughnuts should behave while frying. A candy or deep-fry thermometer is a great backup to measure the temperature of the oil. Alternatively, if you dip the wooden handle of a kitchen spoon or spatula into the hot oil, it should take 2 seconds for 350° oil to bubble vigorously around the wood; more time and the oil is too cool, less time and it's too hot. But the most important thing to watch is how the doughnuts cook.
1 package (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast
3 1/4 cups flour, divided, plus more for rolling and shaping
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, at room temperature
Vegetable oil for frying
How to Make It
In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water (95°–110°). Add 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt. Beat for 2 minutes with an electric mixer or wooden spoon. Add egg and butter and gradually beat in remaining 1 3/4 cups flour by hand until the batter is smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Turn dough out onto a well-floured board or counter. Roll dough 1/2 in. thick, flouring generously and turning dough 90° between rolls to keep it from sticking. Cut out rounds with a standard 2 1/2-in. doughnut cutter. Alternatively, cut rounds with a 2 1/2- or 3-in. round biscuit or cookie cutter, and cut out centers with a 1-in. round biscuit or cookie cutter. Place rounds and centers on 2 well-floured baking sheets at least 1 in. apart. Let dough rise in a warm place until slightly puffed, about 2 hours.
Put wire cooling racks over 2 empty baking sheets and set them near the stove. Pour oil into a large pot to a depth of 2 in. and heat to 325° to 350°. To get a feel for the method and how the dough should look and act, start by frying the holes. Working in batches of 6 to 8 holes and then 3 or 4 doughnuts, fry doughnuts until golden brown, turning once, about 1 minute each side. (Doughnuts should sink for 2 to 3 seconds before floating to the top; if they don't sink, the oil is too hot. Also, if they take much more or less than 1 minute per side to cook, adjust oil temperature.) As doughnuts brown, transfer with a slotted spoon to racks. After the first batch, test a doughnut hole by breaking it open. It should be light and cakelike inside, not greasy. If it's greasy, either the oil wasn't hot enough or it cooked too long. Be sure to fry the doughnuts only until golden brown.
While doughnuts are still slightly warm, dip in sugar or, as directed to 1963 readers, in âÂ€Âœyour favorite butter frosting (either chocolate or orange is especially suitable for Hallowe'en).âÂ€Â?