I fucking love brunch. To be clear, what I really love is breakfast food, and sleeping in. I’ll take pancakes for lunch or dinner any time. Still, there is something extra fancy about brunch. I used to be able to tell you when every restaurant around me stopped serving Sunday brunch, so I could still go no matter how late I woke up. Now I have a child and this information is useless. First, because I rarely sleep past 8 (which is pretty good with a 2-year-old) and second, because my kid is not good at restaurants. So, I haven’t been to brunch in a while. To make up for it, I’ve been hosting more brunch parties. One thing I’ve been dying to try are beautiful themed donuts, decorated to match the party.
What’s been stopping me? Donuts must be served fresh. Donuts are fried*
, and though I have many talents in the kitchen, frying is NOT one of them. Every time I try to deep fry, at least one thing goes wrong, usually way more than that. I’ve managed to fry a batch of chicken, burning half the pieces, and undercooking the other half. It’s almost impressive. Store bought donuts are delicious, but you can’t order them custom decorated like a cupcake. Or, if you can, I’m sure it’s a fortune, which would turn a fun casual treat into a crazy extravagance.
So let me introduce to you my experiment with Cheater Custom Donuts! The gist is that you buy donuts and decorate them yourself. Simple enough, but I wasn’t sure it would work. I have a brunch party coming up and it seemed like a poor idea to try this out for the first time on the morning of the party, so this was mostly a test run.
First things first, I got some donuts. For the actual party, I will go to a local bakery with AMAZING donuts, but for this experiment I went to Dunkin’ because they have a drive through and my toddler was asleep in the car. Because I didn’t buy them until afternoon, they were out of glazed donuts, and I had to run my experiment on plain and chocolate glazed. After I bought the donuts, I hid them in my purse till after bedtime, so by the time I got to work they looked like this.
1.5 cups of powdered sugar
3 Tbsp of melted butter
3 Tbsp of milk
1 Tbsp of vanilla extract (I assume other flavors would work as well)
Put the sugar, butter, and extract in a stand mixer with a wisk attachment. Slowly mix so that the sugar does not turn into a cloud of smoke. Slowly add the milk until it’s the consistency of frosting. Add the food coloring. I suggest you use less than I did. I was actually going for a pastel sea foam, but hey, this is good too. Remember these are practice donuts.
Next, start dipping ASAP. If the glaze cools down too much, it won’t stick properly, at which point you can always stick it back in the microwave. Just drop the donut strait down and twist. If you don’t twist, you’ll get sad and incomplete coverage, and since we’re doing all this work for purely aesthetic reasons, twist.
If you want to add sprinkles or nonpareils, you have to work even faster. Once the glaze is on the donut, it dries very quickly and you don’t have the option of reheating. What you can do is paint a layer of corn syrup if you run out of time, but I’d try to use that sparingly, because these donuts are already pretty sweet. Next time, I think I’ll skip the glazed donuts and only use plain to cut the sweetness.
I let them dry on a wire rack lined with paper towels, and they’re gorgeous. For the party, I plan on making the glaze and decorations the night before and forming an assembly line. If you’d like to see how they turn out, I suggest you subscribe to keep reading. Unless of course they are a disaster, in which case we will never speak of this again.
* Yes I know you can buy donut shaped pans to make baked donuts. But 1) everything’s better fried 2) baking AND decorating them fresh for an 11:00 am party while preparing for the party does not seem practical 3) if I buy one more piece of kitchen equipment with one use, my husband might have a heart attack