Today, I’d like to introduce you to someone special.
This is my grandma, and she was one amazing lady. When it comes to food, she was one of my biggest inspriations. Everyone loved her food (so as it is with most grandmas) but she made everything look so easy. Her food was simple and comforting and she made many things from scratch. When people look back and remember her life, they always talk about the food that they miss.
When I was younger, my mom went back to work so grandma took on the task of watching my cousin and I for part of the day. The thing I looked forward to the most was getting to eat breakfast at her house. I can still remember the taste of her scrambled eggs and even to this day, I can’t replicate them. She had a talent of turning the most humble foods into something awesome.
My grandma was also a cook at the local elementary school for many years. She loved making rolls, cookies, and spudnuts for the school kids. My siblings would talk about how she’d slip them an extra treat in the lunch line. That was my grandma!
Thankfully, she passed down some of her recipes to us and they are some of our most cherished possessions. For years, I’d heard about Grandma’s spudnut recipe but I’d never tried it. Nor do I remember her making them for me. But since doughnuts are one of my favorite things to make, I knew I had to make them.
What in the world are spudnuts, you may ask? Well, they’re doughnuts, but they’re made with mashed potatoes. I know! Before you start dismissing these treats, know this. First, I am from Idaho and I’m pretty sure we’ll find a million uses for potatoes. I’m not sure if spudnuts originated in Idaho, but still. Secondly, adding potatoes to enriched doughs makes them fluffy and soft. In fact, some of my favorite baked goods have potatoes in them. So sneaky! But so inventive, and so resourceful. Take one bite and you’ll never go back to that doughnut chain that likes to advertise their coffee. Or even the one that flips on the “HOT NOW” sign. Never again, you guys!
Well, wait a minute. If you can get doughnuts from a drive through, why would you even bother making them? Maybe you’ll have to answer that question yourself. But I’ll tell you why I do. Doughnuts are so fun to make, and maybe you’ll just have to make them to experience their joy. Few things beat dipping a piping hot doughnut into sweet glaze and smothering that sucker. The best part is watching other people eat them, like who knew you could make doughnuts at home? Well, you can, of course!
If you’re wondering what the specks are in this gorgeous dough, it is nutmeg and cinnamon. They both add the perfect, subtle amount of spice that will make your taste testers wonder what’s in there. But at the same time, it’s not overly spicy like something you should be only eating in the fall when pumpkin spice mania hits.
Without further ado, here is my grandma’s treasured spudnut recipe, with a few of my modifications. If you try these tasty little critters, please let me know how you like them.
Light, airy doughnuts with a surprise ingredient.
For the dough:
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup mashed potatoes, at room temp
- 2 large eggs
- 1 scant tablespoon yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- canola oil for frying
For the glaze:
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the doughnuts:
First, start by scalding the milk. Place in a small saucepan over medium high heat and watch closely until milk starts to steam and small bubbles form around the edge of the milk in the pan. Take pan off the heat and mix in shortening and sugar and allow milk to cool until it is slightly warmer than room temperature. The shortening should melt completely.
While milk is cooling, mix together the yeast and the water and allow yeast to dissolve. Lightly whisk eggs in a separate bowl.
Mix nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer. In the mixer with the dough hook attached and the mixer running on low speed, add the milk, sugar, and shortening mixture to the dry ingredients. Add mashed potatoes, eggs and yeast mixture and let dough mix for several minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom to make sure the flour is getting incorporated. Let dough knead for about five minutes until the dough starts to look puffy in the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Remove dough and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Proof until dough doubles in size, about one hour. After it has doubled, punch the dough down by grabbing the dough from the sides of the bowl and folding it over the middle, going around the width of the bowl so air has been removed. Allow to proof again until doubled in size, a little less than 30 minutes.
After the dough has completed its second rise, remove and place on a floured work surface. Roll out to about a 15" circle, the dough should be 1/4" inch thick. Cut out doughnuts with a 3.5" doughnut cutter. Place doughnuts and doughnut holes on a baking sheet lined with lightly-floured parchment paper. After the first doughnuts are cut out, you can rework the dough to roll out a few more. You should have about 16 doughnuts and holes. Allow doughnuts to proof until doubled in size again, about another 30 minutes.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot (such as a dutch oven) heat about 2" of oil until it reaches 360 F. At the same time, place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet and place nearby. Mix ingredients for the glaze together in a large bowl.
Put about 3-4 doughnuts in the pot with the bottom of the doughnut touching the oil first. Fry each side for about 30 seconds, or until they are a medium brown color, but not burnt. Remove doughnuts with a slotted spoon or spider, and allow to cool for a few moments on the cooling rack. While the doughnuts are still warm, dip both sides in the glaze and place back on the cooling rack to drip.
Eat as soon as possible and enjoy!