Tinker Day Doughnuts

I was thrilled when I checked my email this morning and receiving a message wishing me a happy Tinker Day from my alma mater and this blog’s titular inspiration, Hollins University.  I have very fond memories of crisp October mornings in Roanoke spent climbing Tinker Mountain with my Hollins sisters.

from hercampus.com, by Claire McCown

To the uninitiated, Tinker Day may seem pretty wacky, and well, it is.  Tinker Day is a century-old tradition at the all-women’s Hollins University. Formerly, it marked the first frost, but now, Tinker Day takes place on a surprise day in October.  Students and professors alike dress in crazy costumes (think colors so vibrant the 1980s look downright prim along with funky underwear worn on the outside) and hike Tinker Mountain for a picnic lunch of fried chicken and chocolate Tinker Cake.  Skits and singing complete the festive atmosphere.

Heather (right) with friends Lydia and Layla eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts on Tinker Day 2004

First, though, we eat doughnuts.  Our nourishment for the brisk hike comes in the form of gorgeous, glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  We rush over to the dining hall for this delightful meal without bothering to change from our PJs.  Over a breakfast of these heavenly delicacies, we celebrate our community.  We come from all over the country and around the world, but we are able to celebrate our sisterhood with doughnuts.

Maria (center, with finger moustache) on Tinker Day 2011

Today, I’ve made doughnuts, in honor of both Tinker Day and Homefries U, which Maria and I attended at the end of September in Palm Springs.  Homefries U, hosted by the lovely and talented Joy and Tracy, along with the rest of the Homefries Team, was relaxing weekend filled with bacon, sparkling wine, and glittery nail polish.  (What more could you want?)  We took pictures, giggled lots, and talked about red flags.  We made friendship bracelets; we made friends; we made doughnuts.

Tracy and Joy at work

Actually, we didn’t make doughnuts, but Joy did.  She slaved over the stove all morning, and I don’t think she got to eat a single one.  Joy and Tracy worked all weekend on the food, and they didn’t get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.  So, I made Joy’s doughnuts for breakfast this morning.  Thanks for a fabulous weekend, Joy and Tracy!

Happy Tinker Day!  Now go make some doughnuts!

makes 12 doughnuts, plus many doughnut holes

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1/4 oz.)
2 Tbsp warm water (just hot enough that it feels barely warm on the inside of your lower arm)
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for rolling out dough
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
vegetable oil for deep frying (about 10 cups, depending on size of your pot)

1.  Whisk together yeast and warm water in bowl of stand mixer until yeast is dissolved.  Then let stand about five minutes, or until the mixture becomes foamy.

2.  Add flour, milk, butter, sugar, salt, and cinnamon to yeast and water.  Beat on low until mixture starts to come together.  Beat another three minutes on medium-high speed.

3.  Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1-2 hours, depending on air temperature.  To minimize dirty dishes, scrape down sides of mixing bowl, sprinkle with flour to prevent crust from forming, and cover with a kitchen towel.  If making dough ahead of time, allow dough to rise in fridge overnight.

4.  Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/2-inch thick.  Be sure to flour your rolling pin first to prevent dough from sticking!  Cut out a dozen rounds with a 3-inch biscuit cutter, then cut out the holes with a 1-inch cutter.  I did not have a 1-inch cutter, so I used the top to a soy sauce container.  Feel free to get creative–you can use jars for a 3-inch cutter if you don’t have one!

5.  Optional  Cut out additional holes in the remaining dough with your 1-inch cutter.  Cut and twist the leftover scraps, which you can also fry, and then roll in a mixture of cinnamon sugar along with the doughnut holes.  Try to keep them at an even thickness, so they will cook all the way through.

6.  Transfer doughnuts, holes, and twists to a lightly floured baking sheet (or 2), then cover with your kitchen towel.  Let rise for another 30 minutes, until slightly puffed.  The doughnuts will need to rise for a bit longer if you let your dough rise the first time in the fridge.

7.  Heat your oil (about 2 1/2 inches deep) in a heavy-bottomed pot.  I used my Dutch oven for this.  Your oil should be 350º.  Fry doughnuts until golden, turning as needed with tongs or a slotted spoon.  It should take about 1 minute per side.  After drying, place on plate lined with paper towels.

8.  Fry doughnut holes for about 1 minute total.  Fry your doughnut twists for about 2 minutes, if you made any.  Transfer them immediately from hot oil into cinnamon sugar mixture.

Adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from Gourmet Cookbook

Chocolate Glaze

The original recipe for his glaze made a ton, so I’ve halved the recipe.  Feel free to re-double it if you are making a double batch of dougnuts!

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/8 cup whole milk, warmed
1/2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 Tbsp vanilla extra
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped or chips)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla. Melt butter.

2. After decreasing heat to low, add chocolate and stir until melted.

3.  Remove saucepan from heat and add powdered sugar.  Whisk until smooth.

4.  Dip doughnuts in glaze.  If glaze starts to set in the saucepan, you can place it over a bowl of warm water, re-whisk, and leave it there while you dip the rest of the doughnuts.  I didn’t find this step necessary.

5.  Eat and enjoy!  Practice some patience if you can, and don’t burn your fingers and mouth!  Burning your taste buds would be tragic.

Adapted from Joy the Baker, originally from Alton Brown