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A fried donut recipe, no yeast, and about as old-fashioned homemade donut recipe as you can get when it hails from the Little House Cookbook. This is our second recipe in our Cooking Like Ma Ingall’s series!
Back in the early pioneer days, there was no Dunkin Donuts, or Krispy Kreme to grab a snack from. If you wanted a sweet treat, you had to make them yourself. And since sugar was at a premium, donuts were not often as sweet are they are now. And I tell you what, there’s nothing like a still warm from the pan donut, you won’t even miss all the sugar laden dough and frosting found on modern donuts, pioneer promise.
When you think of donuts, do you think of baked or fried, or yeast raised donuts? Many of us think that “healthy” donuts are now the ones that we bake and make with alternative flours, such as almond flour, coconut flour, or the like. But, back in the pioneer times, they used home ground wheat flour and deep fried them in a traditional fat, usually lard. Many doughnut recipes call for yeast, but back in the day, but an easy donut recipe without yeast (like this one) were the norm, it was less expense and less time to wait on rising with a busy farm to run.
What kind of fats can I use for this fried donut recipe?
The recipe calls for lard as the preferred traditional fat. However, if you don’t eat pork, or can’t find a good quality lard near you, there are alternatives. Try coconut oil, palm oil, or even avocado oil. Stay away from olive oil or butter as they can burn or scorch. Beef tallow is strongly scented and your donuts can wind up tasting a bit on the beefy side.
What kind of flour should I use?
This recipe calls for all purpose white flour. I have tried it with all purpose white, freshly milled wheat pastry flour, and fresh milled bread type flour. The all purpose white seems to give the best results as far as texture when fried.
Why don’t my donuts turn themselves over?
This was a frustrating recipe to learn for me. The twisting of the donuts and getting them to look nearly like French crullers wasn’t easy. At first, my donuts wouldn’t turn themselves over, like Mrs. Wilder’s did.
After the umpteenth batch, I finally figured out some of the errors I was making. If you can’t get your donuts to turn over, check for these possible issues:
Not enough fat in the pan. The donuts need to be swimming well above the bottom of the pan in order to turn.
Too many donuts in the pan at once. Cut the number of donuts down to 2-3 at a time, so they have the room they need to move.
Not twisting the dough tight enough. I found that I needed to turn my wrists 4 times each, twisting to get the right “corkscrew” effect. You will still need to be careful, because the dough can break when twisting.
Too rough handling of the dough. Be gentle when rolling it out and only mess with it just enough to roll and cut.
Dough is too thick. Roll the dough to 1/4″ thick. Any more, and the donuts won’t hold together and they will come apart in the oil.
If you don’t have sour cream plain unflavored yogurt is always an easy substitution (if you need help making your own here’s my easy recipe and method on how to make yogurt at home )
Are you ready to make some traditional donuts? Grab your flour, lard, rolling pin, and let’s get started!
Gather your ingredients for old-fashioned doughnut recipes from scratch.
2 pounds lard, or other traditional fat of choice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup powdered sugar
Instructions on how to make homemade fried donuts
Heat the fat in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium low heat. You want the oil to reach 375 degrees F on a thermometer.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together sour cream, egg, salt, and baking soda.
Add flour to the bowl and mix to combine. Knead for one minute to form a smooth dough.
Roll dough on a floured surface to 1/4″ thick. Cut into 1/2″ wide strips.
Twist each strip, then bring the ends together and form a circle. Pinch ends tight.
Drop carefully into the hot fat and allow to brown and cook 2 minutes.
Remove from oil, and lay on paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve immediately.
With over 20 years experience in the kitchen, Heather loves to create delicious, nutritious foods that her family will enjoy! Follow her adventures on recipesfromthehomestead.com and see what's cooking!