Monday, July 11, 2011

Doughnuttery + Other Summer Adventures In My Kitchen

Hi, friends!
I have a feeling this post will be all over the place.
There are so many food adventures and new recipes I'd like to share with you.
I really should split this into more than one post, but time is short these days for blogging --
too much sunshine, pool time, and summery things going on.

Source: None via Tessa on Pinterest

So, where to begin....
About 4-5 month ago we made a pretty big shift in how we eat after
discovering Andrew was "sensitive" to certain chemical additives.
As a family we eliminated all artificial colors and artificial flavors - completely.
As well as certain "worst offender" preservatives like BHA, BHT, TBHQ.
Zip, Zap, Boom, Bah, - ALL GONE
I'm not going to blog about all the details, 
but the reality is more money spent on groceries,  
more time spent in the kitchen, and we eat out less.
Is it worth it? Yes.
Is it for everyone? No.
Should you feel bad if your children are eating 
goldfish crackers or skittles as you read this? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Do I feel better eating all natural food? Healthwise, not one itty bitty bit.  
I feel exactly the same, 
but it makes a big difference for my child 
and as mothers we all know how much that means 
and the lengths we will go to make life better and happier for them.

Source: via Tessa on Pinterest

That brings me to doughnuts....
There are a few things Andrew really "misses" from the old days.
One is doughnuts.
In the summer we'd all ride our bikes to Graeters for a doughnut
after swim practice on Friday mornings.
Unfortunately, their ingredients didn't make the cut,
and thus began my search for an easy "homemade" doughnut.
Afterall, I kind of liked doughnut Fridays too.  A lot.
I tried both cake and yeast doughnuts.
In several varieties:
Cinnamon Sugar + Chocolate + Banana Chocolate
They were the perfect rainy day food project and we had MANY rainy days in June.

The winning recipe is this one:
Cake Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze
(recipe at end of the post)

I'm grateful the yeast ones weren't a huge hit.
They were messy and too time consuming.
Too fiddly for my liking.
And cleaning a deep fryer is, well, gross.
I do have another yeast doughnut recipe in my queue though, without banana.

Next up on the request list was soft pretzels....
My first effort was with an Auntie Ann's copycat recipe and it was a total failure.
Then this weekend I gave this recipe a try.
Holy pretzel making!!  These are UNBELIEVABLE!!

(sorry, phone picture here)

I followed the recipe to a T and they came out better than I expected.
Except I ended up with 9 instead of 8. No complaining!
I will make these monthly.
They are so, so, soooooo incredibly good.
Doughy, fluffy, light, salty.
Better than anything you could ever buy.
They take about 2 hours to make, an hour of which is time for the dough to rise.
I made them on Sunday while C napped.
I prepped dinner while the dough was rising.
There were too many dirty dishes in my tiny kitchen
and I vowed next time the pretzels would be dinner.
Seriously, dipped in melted cheese or tomato sauce with a few raw veggies on the side.
That works for me.

Ok, I have one more recipe to share, but I'm going to save it.
 It is the best thing I've made all summer.
It's from Ina (of course) and it doesn't involve yeast or deep fryers.

(PS.  If you want to read more details about our diet,
my friend Linsey wrote an excellent post about it here.)

Cake Doughnuts 
2 C cake flour, sifted
1/4 C granulated sugar
2 t baking powder
small pinch of nutmeg
1 t salt
3/4 C buttermilk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425.
Spray doughnut pan with cooking spray
In mixing bowl combine all ingredients, beat until combined.
Fill each doughnut cup 2/3 full.
Bake 7-9 min.
Let cool in pan for 5 min. before removing

Chocolate Glaze
In microwave bowl combine 1/2 c semisweet choc. chips, 1/4 c whipping cream, 2 T butter
microwave 1 min. stir, microwave 30 sec more,
whisk in 3/4 c powdered sugar until smooth and 2 tsp light corn syrup


  1. First off, I want that pantry. As in today! Love it.

    Second, I've always wanted to make homemade pretzels but the amount of flour always turns me off. I just envision wasting a bunch of ingredients if they don't turn out. I'm not the best with yeast, so that's another hesitation. However, with your ringing endorsement, I might have to give this one a try. Plus Alton Brown would never steer me wrong (:

  2. Thanks Tessa! I think I'm going to begin this diet with my family. Our boys act up and I've always thought it was because they are young boys with loads of energy but maybe not. I'll let you know how ours go once we begin! Who knew this was out there!


  3. deeelish!!! can I come over for a snack ;)

  4. so funny! we are so on the same page its crazy. i just posted about this same topic today. :) i will have to try those pretzels...and maybe donuts...mmmm

  5. I think a batch of those pretzels would be fun for a party! Can you make me some?

  6. I'm going to have to try this. Thanks for not putting everyone on a guilt trip. It's good inspiration for all of us to try to eat better...with a few doughnuts and pretzels thrown in!!! Have a great week!

  7. yum ... I'm going to try those pretzels with my kiddos! Thanks for sharing.

  8. OK, you have to tell me if that's actually your pantry. So, so beautiful! I have some friends who have gone to gluten free diets and see such a big difference for their kiddos. Good for you for putting so much of yourself into this for your babies. The recipes look awesome!

  9. Oh my word. That would have been so yummy with my first cup of coffee this 5:15!!!!!

  10. Oh, how I wish that was my pantry. Can you imagine?! No, just another pinterest pretty.

    As for cooking with yeast. I haven't always had that much luck either but after a few failures, I think I've got it down.
    1. make sure your yeast is not expired or close to its expiration.
    2. make sure the water is between 110-120 degrees in the bowl that you plan to mix the yeast in. Too hot - you'll kill the yeast. Too cold - it won't activate. Use a thermometer!
    3. mix the yeast, sugar and water together with you fingers in the bowl, not sure why but this seems to get the yeast activating quicker.
    4. make sure it gets a bit foamy, that way you are certain the yeast is working.
    5. after you make the dough leave it in a warm place to rise. my counter is not warm enough, but my oven is. I have a "proofing" function and I use the standard setting.

    good luck! it's fun once you get the hang of it!


  11. Everything sounds delicious. I will have to try your recipes. I can't imagine all of the effort you had to put into finding a better way to eat. We try to eat pretty healthy, but I know it takes much organization and effort to keep on track. I can't imagine having to be that organized all the time. Your such a good mom.

  12. Hello,

    Thank you for sharing these recipes. My kids are going to love the doughnuts....can't wait! They look delish!
    Have a good week.

  13. So proud of you, Tessa! And honored that God cold use wee little me down here in Houston to encourage you on your journey. I love your approach! And I'm wishing I had some of your skills/bravery in the kitchen! The donuts and pretzels looks amazing!!!


  14. Impressive cooking skills!

    This summer we are actually going more Organic after learning more about how our food is being altered. Here is a you tube video of Robyn O'Brien is really interesting:

    Enjoy your blog!

  15. Your doughnuts look DELICIOUS and I bet are even better than the old ones because they're homemade!

  16. I just came across your site vie Pinterest for this doughnut recipe, and it looks delish! But, you have also peaked my interest with the mention of the recipe you made by Ina with no yeast and no frying.. and said it was the best thing you made all summer! Have you shared that yet? If so, can you post the link for me? THANKS!!!

    1. hi shauna ~ oh dear, i forgot i wrote that. yes, i do remember the recipe and no i never shared it. it had nothing to do with doughnuts or pretzels, hence to no yeast and no deep fryer comment. it was for a baked shrimp, tomato + feta dish. crazy good, but likely not what you are looking for... here is the link to that recipe just in case:

  17. Tessa, I just made the donuts for my family, since we love your pumpkin spice version. We now love these, too! thank you for all the wonderful recipes.