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Here are the doughnuts for a sugar party. They're a traditional New England cake doughnut, one of those baked goods that, when they were developed, took advantage of that relatively new leaven, baking powder, as well as a method of cooking that made them available for eating pretty quickly and simply. They're really about as easy and quick to make as muffins. Cake doughnuts are de rigueur for sugaring. For sugaring, serve as is. But if you have a yen for doughnuts at another time of year, shake them in confectioners' sugar after they've cooled, or nutmeg sugar (a cousin of cinnamon sugar).
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) buttermilk
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon lemon oil or 1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup (4 ounces) King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
3 1/2 cups (14 7/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 quarts (3 pounds) lard, shortening or vegetable oil
While you prepare the dough, begin heating the lard (best flavor), shortening (less saturated fat but also less flavor), or vegetable oil (probably the healthiest alternative but if you're doing these for flavor, this is not the choice to make). An 8-quart stock pot is an appropriate size cooking container.
You want the fat to reach somewhere between 365°F and 375°F before you begin to cook. It's best to have a thermometer that you can clip onto the side of your pot so you can monitor the temperature. And make temperature changes slowly. Unlike water, it takes time for the fat to respond to increased or decreased heat. It's easy, if you're too exuberant, to have the temperature begin to soar up to the smoke point. And it doesn't like to give up its heat easily.
Beat together the eggs, buttermilk, sugar and lemon oil or zest until light. In a separate bowl, blend together the dry ingredients. Melt the butter but make sure it's not excessively hot. Quickly blend the dry ingredients with the wet and stir in the melted butter. The resulting dough will be quite soft, but if you keep surfaces well sprinkled with flour, you can manage it. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead four or five times to make it cohesive (a bench knife helps here). Then, with a well-floured rolling pin, roll the dough out until it's about 1/2-inch thick. With a doughnut cutter dipped in flour (each time you cut), cut out doughnuts. Save the "holes" or re-roll them with leftover dough. Try to handle the dough as little as possible.
When the fat is at the appropriate temperature, lower three or four doughnuts into it. A slotted spoon is useful here. They will initially sink to the bottom of the pot but will rise shortly. Give them a minute or so on one side, then flip them over and give them another minute. Flip them a third time and cook for another 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels (or brown paper grocery bags). Yield: 1 1/2 to 2 dozen doughnuts, depending on the size of your cutter.
Nutrition information per serving based on 2 dozen (1 doughnut, 50g): 159 cal, 5.8g fat, 3g protein, 15g complex carbohydrates, 8g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 31mg cholesterol, 117mg sodium, 57mg potassium, 17RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 63mg calcium, 55mg phosphorus.