Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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National Doughnut Day – Get a Free One at Dunkin’ Donuts or Make Your Own

June 4th, 2010 · No Comments

It’s National Doughnut Day – and Dunkin’ Donuts is offering a free doughnut (one per customer) at all its stores.

Love the history of Doughnut Day

Lassie with doughnuts - courtesy Salvation Army Museum.org

Unlike the modern marketing nonsense proclaiming National Onion Dip Day or some such event, there really is a National Doughnut Day, established in 1938 in Chicago, where the Salvation Army was raising money to feed and help the needy during the Great Depression.

The War and the Lassies

Their largesse began in World World I, when the women of the Salvation Army were on the battlefields to help soldiers and offer some modest comforts away from the fighting. One Lt. Col. in the Salvation Army “corps,” Helen Purviance, is believed to be the original “doughnut lassie” – making homemade doughnuts for the troops.

Rough kitchens

Salvation Army Lassies on the front in WWI/ courtesy Salvation Army Museum.org

Records show only 150 or so doughnuts were made the first day; more than 9000 would eventually be served daily, as soldiers lined up for doughnuts and coffee from the “lassies.”

These soldiers later became known as doughboys. Most vets from the era remembered fondly in memoirs the comfort of these fried doughnuts, originally produced with a wine bottle as rolling pin and cooked over makeshift campfires in the fields.

Make your own doughnuts

Here’s a doughnut recipe for making your own; my Kitchen Kollectibles columnist, Scott Simmons, loves these, and I sometimes send a batch to his mom, Martha Simmons, in Fort Myers. I’ve heard that a few survive the trip.

Homemade doughnuts

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 quarts oil for deep frying
  • For dusting:
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup powdered or granulated sugar

In a mixing bowl with a wire whisk, mix the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg or cardamom. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, butter, and vanilla. Stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Heat oil in a deep heavy skillet or deep-fryer to 370 degrees F. On a floured surface or pastry cloth, roll dough out to 1/2 inch thickness to a circle. Use a 3-inch round doughnut cutter to cut out doughnuts – or use a jelly glass. Use a smaller cutter (or mouth of a soda bottle) to cut out the doughnut holes.

Drop doughnuts carefully as to not stretch them into the hot oil; don’t crowd the pan. Fry until golden brown, turning once. Remove from oil to drain on brown paper bags (best absorbency).

Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar in a shallow dish or a paper bag. Dredge the doughnuts into the sugar mix, or put up to three at a time in the bag and shake to cover. Set on a rack to cool slightly; coat again in the powdered sugar.

Best eaten while warm.

Makes about 18 doughnuts and 18 holes.

Tags: Recipes: What's Cooking!

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