2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 quart vegetable oil for frying
Powdered Sugar Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
5 tablespoons water (or as needed to achieve a nice consistency)
Garnishes: Anything goes! Nuts, sprinkles, coconut, candy, cinnamon sugar, chocolate, powdered sugar, peanut butter, frosting... we used a bit of everything.
Start by sprinkling the yeast over the warm water. Let stand for about 5 minutes.
In a mixing bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening, and flour. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double, about 30 minutes.
While dough is rising, make the glaze. Simply mix powdered sugar, water and vanilla bean paste or extract until smooth. The glaze should be thin but not watery. If you are feeling a bit ambitious, you can also make variations on this glaze - maple by adding a couple of teaspoons of maple extract, chocolate by adding about 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, or fruit flavors by adding fruit extract or juices. I made an amazing black cherry glaze with a few teaspoons of black cherry extract; yum!
When the dough is ready, set it out on a floured surface and roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. For doughnut holes, simply roll small balls in hand and fry. Don't set those down for long, or they will stick and lose their shape. For regular donuts, use a floured doughnut cutter to cut out the shapes, and for the larger filled donuts, simply make a larger version of a doughnut hole, fry, and then fill with a piping bag. I filled some of these with peanut butter and some with raspberry jelly.
Heat oil in a large pot to about 350 degrees. Fry donuts for just a couple of minutes each, turning halfway through, and drain on a wire rack or paper towels. It is best to dip the doughnuts in glaze while still hot, I kept several baking sheets out for this purpose and decorated as I went along.
That's the story! Some of the best combos we made were a peanut butter filled maple glazed donut with toffee topping, standard powdered sugar doughnut holes, chopped peanuts with toasted coconut, and the black cherry glazed doughnut I mentioned above. Enjoy!