Homemade old-fashioned sour cream donuts scented with lemon.
It’s almost National Donut Day! The first Friday in June has been designated as National Donut Day for decades to honor members of the Salvation Army who served donuts to troops during WWI. It may seem like just another random food holiday, but it actually has a long-standing history (check out the Wikipedia page for even more info on what may be the greatest individual food holiday of all time).
I decided to make a classic, old-fashioned style donut complete with that signature cracked surface and shiny glaze. There are a few different variations of the old-fashioned out there, some use buttermilk but I went with sour cream here. It’s a basic dough that lands somewhere between a biscuit dough and a thick cake batter. The dough comes together easily and after a little chill to firm up, is ready to cut and fry. Lots of old-fashioned donut recipes are additionally flavored with nutmeg but I went for a little lemon zest in both the batter and glaze that I think is an excellent pair with the notes of sour cream. Bonus, these glazed babes actually taste almost as good the next day! Just store the cooled donuts at room temperature in an airtight container.
Chill your dough! You need to chill the dough for at least 2 hours, but I think it’s much more efficient to make the dough the night before you plan on frying. That means fresh, hot donuts first thing on a weekend morning!
Prep! Cut your donuts and prep your frying and glazing stations before you begin frying. Once the dough has chilled, I cut out the donuts and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet in the refrigerator while I set up a pot of oil (off the heat) and set a cooling rack over a baking sheet before I get the glaze started. This way once you heat up the oil and begin the frying process you aren’t running around doing set-up and you can keep a watchful eye on your donuts as they fry and glaze them while they’re still hot from the oil.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (8.8oz/250g)
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons soft unsalted butter (1oz/28g)
- ½ cup granulated sugar (3.5oz/100g)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup sour cream (6oz/170g)
- Canola oil for frying
- 1½ cups confectioners sugar (7.5oz/210g)
- 2 tablespoons sour cream (1oz/28g)
- 2 tablespoons milk (1oz/28g)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Pinch of kosher salt
- Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl to combine.
- Using a hand mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and lemon zest together for about 4 minutes, until pale in color. Scrape down the sides and beat in the egg. Scrape down the sides again and gently beat in half of the flour until just combined, followed by the sour cream. Beat in the remaining flour on low speed, until just combined. Scrape the bowl down the sides and bottom and fold in any remaining flour bits. Scrape the dough onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and pat into a rectangle about an inch thick. Wrap well and refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.
- Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and flour your rolling surface. Roll the dough to a ½-inch thickness and using round cutters, cut out donut shapes (I used a 2 ½-in round cutter and a smaller 1-inch cutter for the centers). Instead of re-rolling the dough, I just cut the scraps out with smaller round cutters to make additional donut holes. Place the donuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate while you make the glaze.
- Sift the confectioner's sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk in the sour cream, milk, lemon zest, and a tiny pinch of salt until you get a smooth glaze. Set a wire cooling rack over a baking sheet and set both to the side.
- Heat 3 inches of neutral oil (like canola) in a high-sided pot to 325°F.
- Fry the donuts in batches a few minutes (2-3 minutes) until golden and cracked. Glaze the donuts while they are still hot and place on the wire rack to catch the drips. You can either submerge the donuts in the glaze and remove them with a fork, or spoon the glaze over both sides of the donuts.