As one day melts into the next in this forced isolation due to the virus, I thought it might be nice to make Sundays special in some way. One Sunday I made cranberry bread; another, a different kind of curry. After looking through my May issue of Bon Appetit, I decided this Sunday I would make their very simple recipe for Yonuts . . . donuts made with Greek Yogurt.
It looked simple enough. And, I did have everything on hand in the kitchen. I thought about it all day Thursday and read the recipe over several times during the day. Friday, I looked at it again and reminded myself it looked so easy. Saturday, I spent the whole day waiting for Sunday to try this very simple Yonut recipe. We were going to celebrate Sunday, April 26th with hot out of the fryer donuts made with yogurt and lemon glaze. The picture in the magazine was so inviting.
After watching Meet the Press at its delayed West Coast time, we got out of bed to face the afternoon. First order of business – Yonuts! I read over the recipe several times and began getting out my ingredients. I had just secured some self-rising flour, since all-purpose flour was not available in the stores, and it took a few minutes to see if I could amend the yonut recipe for self-rising flour. My research determined I could easily make the adjustments. Not a problem.
Crack the eggs, add the vanilla, sugar and yogurt. I got out my tub of Greek yogurt that I had bought before the corona virus hit. It had just enough left in the bottom for this recipe. I knew I could finish off the container. Only . . . the top of the container was covered with mold. Oh no! If I couldn’t use this, I couldn’t make yonuts and I had half the ingredients already measured out.
Well, I’ve done this before, so I did it again. I took a small rubber spatula and scraped off the layer of mold. Carefully and expertly, I found the unspoiled layer underneath that was required for my recipe and measured out a cup. Add to the egg mixture. The phone rings.
It’s Fr. Bill calling from Massachusetts to wish me a late ‘Happy Easter.’ We talked and reminisced for several minutes. It was wonderful to reconnect with an old friend from long ago and far away. I got off the phone and went back to my special Sunday activity. But, before mixing the wet and dry ingredients, I knew I must have all other aspects of the recipe ready and so I went looking for my donut cutter.
I did have a donut cutter – I know I did. But, when was the last time I made donuts? Maybe when I was in the food services lab at Iowa State taking Home Economics? Maybe that was the last time. And, while I did major in Home Economics, I didn’t remember the course on donuts. And, I couldn’t find my donut cutter, no matter where I looked. In a fit of desperation, I ran downstairs to my crafting room to see if the donut cutter got sequestered to the clay implements drawer. Nope. No donut cutter with the clay cutters.
Well, I could improvise. I found a circle cutter and I could make the center hole with a chop stick and pull it open a little with my fingers. That would have to do. But, I was so hungry I couldn’t think of rolling out these donuts until I’d had something to eat.
“Honey? Could you come and fry up an egg scramble with cheese while I get this dough ready? I’m not sure I’ll make it until the donuts are done.” Instantly, Randy came to the rescue. He fried up some eggs and toasted the last of our loaf of bread. We stopped to eat and discuss the morning’s news we had watched in bed. Our immediate hunger satisfied, we now awaited the glorious taste of homemade donuts – as soon as they were homemade.
Feeling revived and better able to tackle the remainder of the donut debacle, I went back to my three bowls of ingredients. I prepared for the rest of the process. A large pot for frying. The cooking thermometer set to 350 degrees so the oil would be optimum for frying donuts. A wire rack inside a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Long handled implements to lower and extract the donuts to and from the hot oil – which required some more improvisation. Having never made donuts before and actually never having done much (or any) deep frying before, I had no spider or basket tool for the job. My metal meat fork and a fish spatula would have to do. Everything else in the drawer was nylon, made for non-stick cookery. But, I could make this work.
Now I could combine my ingredients. As I went along it became very clear what I had in my bowl wasn’t as the recipe described. Had I added too much flour? Not enough yogurt? Well . . . no turning back now. I kept stirring in the flour until I decided to dump it out on the counter and knead it like bread. The recipe said the dough would be sticky and hard to handle. Well, not mine!
I cautiously rolled out the dough between two pieces of parchment. Now it was time to cut out those little yonuts with my circle cutter and a chopstick. I laid each little malformed yonut on parchment paper where they awaited their hot bath in the frying oil. I turned on the stove and watched as the temperature reached 350 degrees. I called Randy. “Can you come and help?” I could foresee needing about six hands for the operation to come.
“Three-fifty right now. Should I put one in?”
“Yes. Let’s do it.”
“Oh no! It’s really brown already. Oh, oh! The temp is going up. It’s still going up!”
Adding the donuts and swirling the oil caused the temperature to rise from 350 to 450 in about two seconds.
Smoke started rising off the hot oil. Very hot smoke. Just to get us excited, the smoke alarm went off. I ran to turn down the burner and frantically advised, “Take them out. Get them out. They’re burning.” Then I ran to open the back door and wave a kitchen towel at the smoke alarm to encourage it to be quiet.
Randy frantically fished out the “mahogany” colored donuts and we waited while the oil temperature reduced. “Should I put another one in now?”
“Yeah, maybe.” We were definitely frying by the seat of our pants, and they were not hefty pants at that.
We had six very dark yonuts sitting on the wire rack. A failed attempt by any standards, even though the recipe advised the yonuts were done when they were a “golden to mahogany color.” All we could do was forge ahead. We had six more and as many “holes” made from rolling up the scraps, to go.
By the time the last two yonuts came out of the oil, they looked as if they were ‘normal’ to me. I silently took the lovely lemon glaze and dipped each blackened, mahogany yonut into the glaze and returned it to the wire rack. Finally, we were done. The smoke had cleared, although the house smelled of frying oil, and we had a dozen small pucks that we could imagine were donuts with their corresponding “holes.”
Should we eat them? We looked at each other. After all we had gone through, there was no doubt. We took them to the table – wire rack and all – and each took one to sample. Not surprisingly, we both took one of the last to come out of the pot. There was silence between us. We looked at each other and smiled. “They’re really good!”
Not just ‘really good,’ I thought, given everything I went through, they were fabulous! Now the real test . . . to eat one of the mahogany pucks. We each took one. “They’re not bad!” And, they weren’t, but they were less than fully cooked, having been removed from the oil in such haste as to save them from cremation.
Well, not to waste anything during this isolation due to the Coronavirus, we popped them in the microwave for 30 seconds to complete their cooking all the way to the center, and we enjoyed them anyway. It was a Sunday morning eucharist like no other. Each bite was filled with a sugary, vanilla and lemon tinted grace, reverently received.
Such are the delights of making Sunday a special day during these difficult times. I did take pictures just to see if my yonuts looked anything like the ones featured in Bon Appetit.
You be the judge. Despite their looks they tasted heavenly.