I missed National Doughnut Day this year. It’s celebrated on the first Friday in June.
Doughnuts are not my favorite sweet (that honor goes to the lowly cookie), but they play a significant role in two of my middle grade books.
In TAKEDOWN, Mickey’s family tradition is to go out for donuts when she or her brothers does well at a wrestling tournament.
In my new book, A PLACE AT THE TABLE, my character Elizabeth invites her new friend Sara (written by my co-author Saadia Faruqi) over to make Hanukkah donuts. It’s one of the many ways that our two first generation American characters — Elizabeth’s mother immigrated from England and Sara’s parents are from Pakistan — share their cultures with each other.
Like most Americans, I always associates latkes — delicious potato pancakes served with sour cream or apple sauce (or both) — with Hanukkah.
But Hanukkah foods are really about the oil. The great miracle we celebrate on this holiday involved oil for a menorah. And guess what? Doughnuts are fried in oil! That’s why doughnuts are a favorite Hanukkah treat.
Part of my research for A PLACE AT THE TABLE was making all of the recipes in the book. Not only did I learn to make Tahari Rice and samosas from scratch, I had to find the perfect jelly doughnut recipe. After much trial and error, I landed on a recipe with *the* trick for well-shaped jelly doughnuts that you don’t have to fill after they’re cooked. Trust me, filling hot doughnuts with a turkey baster full of strawberry jam is more awkward than fun.
What’s the trick? Roll out two thin circles of dough for each doughnut. Put a little jelly on one circle and top it with the other. Crimp the edges, and you’re ready to fry. A bonus of this method: the jelly gives the doughnuts a little more balance in the oil, so they don’t puff on one side and tip, making them uneven.
Would I leave you without a recipe? No way! But first, let’s sample a tasty doughnut poem from Greg Pincus.
Doughnuts! Oh, Doughnuts!
by Greg Pincus
Doughnuts! Oh, doughnuts! Fried circles of yum.
You food that I simply adore.
You’re sure not nutritious, but you’re so delicious
I’m always left wishing for more.
I love you with frosting or covered in sprinkles.
I swoon for you, sweet, sugar raised!
When you’re filled with jelly, you warm up my belly…
While still leaving room for a glazed.
I’ll dip you in coffee or dunk you in milk.
I’ll eat you for breakfast or brunch.
I get so impassioned for simple old-fashioned
That sometimes I make them my lunch.
Doughnuts! Oh, doughnuts! Definers of yum.
You perfect fried circles of dough.
Although you’re caloric, you leave me euphoric…
So give me a dozen to go!
Shared with the author’s permission. First posted at GottaBook, June 2009.
Ready for the recipe? If you are working with a kid who is Elizabeth and Sara’s age (11) or younger, be sure that an adult is in charge of the frying. The oil is extremely hot.
You’ll find more bonus recipes from A PLACE AT THE TABLE here.