It’s a Deadwood New Year’s tradition for the Kinney house (and now the Kinney-Burruss house) to host the Donut Party. There’ve been about 25 of them; the first one was sometime around 1984, but there hasn’t been a donut party every year. We make up some sweet dough, fire up the grease and make a huge cloud of black smoke accompanied by huge platters of donuts. In the past, the donuts have been mainly confined to powered sugar and cinnamon-sugar, but I really love a good glazed donut and there isn’t an American alive who doesn’t have a weakness for some kind of filling, whether it’s lemon curd, custard, chocolate or jam. We did all those this year.
Our process for making donuts is strange combination of baking bread, working at McDonald’s and tending bar. Mizu made the dough in the afternoon and set it in covered bowls by the stove to rise. At 630, she started cutting them out and laying them on boards for a second rising. Each batch (and we made eight) turns out about twenty donuts. There is a slight difference depending on the ratio of holes, rings and filled you make. While the first donuts were rising, I put four gallons of oil on the stove and sent it off toward 375 degrees. Once the oil was hot, we started dropping the plumped donuts in. They sank for the barest second and then rose again quickly to the surface where they floated palely, surrounded by a corona of bubbles and waited to be flipped. Flipped and then quickly out onto towels to dry. Once they’d cooled enough to handle, it was time to get them dressed up to serve. Easiest and fastest was to drop them into sacks of sugar (powered or cinnamon) and shake them up. Filling was easy, but slower and messier. I started by filling a cake-decorator-icing-piper-bag-thing with the lemon curd (or vanilla custard or raspberry jam or chocolate sauce) and then Van Helsing it into the donut. A quick squeeze on the bag and the donuts was ready to eat. Messiest and funnest are glazed donuts. To make those, I dumped the donuts into a tub of glaze and then set them aside to drip for a bare minute. Then I shook rainbow nibs or coconut or sesame seeds over the whole run of donuts. Last step for all of these was to dump them all onto a tray and send Opal trundling around giving them away.
At 1030, the donuts and most of the guests were gone. Helen, thenLucie and finally Opal had collapsed into bed leaving Mizu and myself with one small thing left to do…wash the dog.
One of the coolest things about living out here is seeing the salmon in the creek each fall. They’re huge and powerful and fill up our tiny creek with their thrashing and fighting and spawning. If you know anything about the salmon life cycle, you know that after they spawn, they die. After they die, they rot. Yesterday morning Panther’s friend Shadow appeared from way up creek. Like usual, they ran around, fought, played and explored. There was a special treat today, though. The creeks have been running crazy high for two weeks and a couple cold rainless days shrank them a good two feet. When the creek falls, it leaves things behind…things like dead salmon. Maybe someone, somewhere knows why dogs like to roll in dead things, but I don’t.
So Mizu and I took turns holding Panther down and pouring stuff on her while she writhed and fought. First water, then V8, then some scrubbing, then more water, then dish soap, then scrubbing, then more water, then more water. Did I mention it was raining and 34 degrees? Good times.
Finally showered and in bed, I looked at the clock. 11:51. “Mizu. Look at the clock.” “Yeah.” Pause. “I love ya, good night.” “Love you, too. Good night.”
Here’s the recipe:
2 packages yeast (2 Tsp)
¾ C milk
⅓ C sugar
¼ C shortening - room temp (Mizu used butter)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs – room temp
3 to 3½ C flour
Dissolve the yeast in warm milk and a bit of the sugar. After the blossoming, add the remaining sugar, the eggs and the butter. Mix mostly and then add 2 cups of the flour and the salt. As you beat, gradually add flour until you get to moderately soft dough. Turn out and knead until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, grease and return to bowl for rising. After it has risen, punch it down and roll it out to ½ inch thickness. Cut with donut cutter and set on a floured board to rise again. (A real donut cutter is really nice. You can fake it, but it’s a pain in the ass.) Heat oil (the more the better so it doesn’t lose heat as you drop in the much colder dough) to 375 degrees. Drop the donuts in a few at a time and fry on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper and dress them up.