Monday, 13 February 2012

Great-Grandmother's Doughnuts

 Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend. - Theophrastus

Today I had a cooking lesson.  Not just any cooking lesson, but a cooking lesson from a grandmother (something I highly recommend).  This lesson was unsolicited...I just happened to be walking by her in her moment of inspiration.  "Christina, I want to teach you how to make doughnuts..."  Alright, I am game.  I stopped what I was doing and  took out a pencil, paper, a camera, and measuring cups (to properly measure her ingredients that she will just eyeball and expect me to remember).

 My Husband's Serbian Grandmother's Doughnuts  
(1 part recipe. 2 parts life stories)
Pranbaba Vema

2 egg yolks ( which we did not have,"ehh, its ok," she says.)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 t salt,
1/4 c sugar/ 2 Tablespoons sugar, divided
3 1/5 cup warm milk
1 pkg. quick rising yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
6  cups flour, divided
3/4 cup warm water, divided
oil for frying
optional icing sugar for topping

1. Put the first three ingredients and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a large bowl and set aside.(again...we did not have egg yolks and the doughnuts turned out fine...she said the yolks are more for colour)

2.  Add package of yeast and 2 Tablespoons sugar into the warm milk. Set aside. Wait 30 minutes  (or have a cup of coffee. Tell stories about how this recipe was learned, also from a lovely grandmother, who was a neighbour.  And more stories about working on the farm, family memories of ages past and an evil mother- in-law (who grandmother likened to a distant relative of the late German dictator)).
3.  Alternating, add 5 cups of flour and the warm yeast milk into the prepared yolk, butter, salt, sugar mixture.

4. Mix with hands until well incorporated.
5.  Slowly, add 1/2 cup of warm water to mixture.  Texture is sticky at this point.  Continuing mixing/kneeding with hands.  About 8 minutes.

6. Incorporate the remaining 1/4 cup warm water to mixture.
7.  Add 3/4 cup flour. Continue mixing from the edges in a circular motion. About 10 minutes (or a about the time it takes to tell a short story about how your doughnuts were the talk of your church and everyone lined up to eat them.. 300 were made and your hands were sore for a week)

8. Turn out dough onto a floured surface(heavily floured...the remaining 1/4 cup of flour).  Kneed for about 10 minutes (or for about the same time it takes to tell a story about how you passed this recipe to your best friend who didn't know how to cook...and then she also became the talk of the town). After which,  the dough should become very soft and smooth.

9.  Cover and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours in a warm, draft-free location. (give all your great-grandchildren kisses...and greet them for breakfast...tell them stories, too, about how they are going to eat doughnuts for lunch with lots of sugar sprinkled on top, while their mother reminds them that they have to eat something healthy first)
My nieces Amelia and Nea

10. Punch dough down (enjoy the ooohs and aaahs from great-grandchildren). Cover again.  Let Rise again for another hour (or enough time to eat a proper lunch while complaining to the children's mother, that the doughnuts are a nutritious lunch time food and why was a second meal made.)

My sugar-holic son Kaiden

11. Roll out dough to about a one inch thickness.  Cut dough into circle shapes. (We used a glass cup). 
My daughter and my niece watching

12. Transfer cut dough to another surface to rest. Cover.  Let rest an additional 15 minutes.  At this time, prepare skillet for frying.  Pour enough oil to come halfway to the top of the skillet.  Begin to heat oil over a burner on medium- low.

13.  Pick up dough pieces and put a small indentation in each one as you drop them into the hot oil.  Turning them over when they have browned on one side.  Remove from skillet once both sides are brown.

14.  Transfer to paper towel lined serving dish. Sprinkle with icing sugar.

15. Enjoy!
My son Ethan stealing a treat

Yum! my son Kaiden
All the great-grandchildren enjoying the doughnuts

Makes 36 doughnuts.
Somehow...with 8 children, 2 adults and 1 great-grandmother all of the doughnuts were eaten by dinnertime. All the children thought great-grandmother was magical and  of course, I showed the proper example of healthy eating, and ate only one (or maybe was it two...or was it, hmm,... I don't quite remember).


  1. Love the story and all the pictures. I have never eaten a home-made doughnut and am quite jealous that my boys were there to experience them. I will have to try this!

    1. Thank you Danielle! Your boys did love them! They are one of my favourite things that Dio's grandmother makes. Next time she comes for a visit, I will let you you can grab some too!

  2. Thank you Christina! I want to try this recipe. What a great way to present it! You should make an entire book of these to sell. I love the format. It's like I'm there with you.

    1. Thank you for your nice comments Christine! I did enjoy writing this. I would have forgotten the moment if I had not captured it in words. It is a nice memory. Give the recipe a try, I think you will like it.