When Betsy and I lived in Grand Junction, her office would do donut day every Thursday. When we first moved there, I made homemade donuts the first time it was her turn to bring in donuts.
Most of her coworkers made it fairly clear that I should never do that again. You see, there was a little homestyle bakery in Grand Junction that made amazing donuts. I don’t mean amazingly hipster donuts. I just mean legit good donuts. I think their website will tell you how hipster they are. Hint: They aren’t. They are bakers.
Betsy became completely obsessed with their old-fashioned sour cream donuts (and with good reason). In fact, I would say that these donuts are probably in her top 10 things she misses about Grand Junction.
So, I did my best to recreate them. Admittedly, my version was not as good as the original, but that kind of donut takes years to master. That said, these are dense, flavorful, and perfect with a morning cup of coffee. And, unless you happen to have a very good bakery in your town, you’ll be hard pressed to beat them.
For the donut dough:
1) Sift together dry ingredients: cake flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
2) In a bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together sugar and butter until it's light and fluffy on medium speed. Then add in egg yolks and continue to mix. (You can also use a hand mixer)
3) Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, followed by 1/3 cup sour cream, then half of the remaining dry ingredients, the last 1/3 cup of sour cream, and the last of the dry ingredients. Mix the dough in between each stage.
4) Once dough is combined, cover loosely with plastic and let set up in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, make the glaze by whisking together glaze ingredients until well combined. Set aside for later.
6) When ready to make donuts, preheat 2 quarts of oil in a large sturdy pot to 350 degrees F. Please use a deep fry thermometer.
7) Roll out donut dough on a lightly floured surface until it's about 1/2 inch thick. Then cut out as many donuts as you can. Save the holes as well! You can reroll the dough a few times to get as many donuts as possible. You should get around 12.
8) When you're ready to fry, fry the donuts on side one for 15 seconds, then flip them and fry them on the second side for 50-60 seconds, then flip again and cook until they are an even light, brown color and cracking in parts, another 60 seconds probably. The donut holes will need much less time, just a minute total to cook through.
9) Remove donuts and holes from the oil and let drain on a paper towel. Once cooled slightly, glaze the donuts and let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving. They are actually better after resting than right out of the fryer.
Recipe slightly adapted from a Messy Baker recipe.
The Donut Dough
This isn’t a hard dough to pull together, but since it is based on cake flour, it does help to sift together the dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt, baking powder). To be honest, I’m not entirely sure this step is necessary, but it only takes a minute so just do it.
Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until it’s a light, fluffy mixture.
As an aside, I think that the fat used in my version (butter) versus the homestyle bakery might be different. I have a feeling they might use lard or shortening at the least.
Once the butter and sugar is creamed together, add in the egg yolks.
Obviously, you’ll need sour cream for these. Use the real, full fat stuff for these guys. They deserve it.
Next, add your dry ingredients and sour cream to the dough base in alternating batches. I do 1/3 of the dry ingredients, 1/3 cup sour cream, 1/2 of the remaining dry ingredients, the last 1/3 cup of sour cream, and then the final bit of dry ingredients.
The dough will look almost like a cross between a cake batter and cookie dough because that’s essentially what it is.
Once this is mixed together, cover it and let it rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to let it firm up a bit.
Meanwhile you can work on the glaze!
This won’t take thirty minutes, but you might as well do it while you wait for your dough to chill out. Just whisk together all the ingredients for the glaze in a medium bowl. Nothing fancy, but this glaze is perfect for the donuts.
The glaze is in the Goldilocks zone. It’s not too thick and not too thin.
Making the Donuts
When you’re ready to make the donuts, preheat a few quarts of oil in your fryer or in a large sturdy pot (please use a deep fry thermometer).
Then you can roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. I rolled out my dough a bit too thin. Shoot for 1/2 inch thickness on the dough. You can re-roll the dough a few times to maximize your donut count. You should get 12 out of the dough batch.
And again, yours should be thicker than mine!
Frying and Glazing
These suckers fry quickly. They should take about 3 minutes total to fry, but I recommend frying them in 4 donut batches and flipping them a few times as they fry. As you can see, some of my first attempts (in the back) got a little dark!
When the donuts are golden brown and starting to crack, they are done. Those little cracks are the signatures of a good sour cream donut in my opinion. They store lots of the glaze later.
You can obviously fry the holes also. They will take much less time to fry.
After the donuts fry, let them cool on a few paper towels and then glaze them up!
Interestingly, I found that these donuts were best after they sat for a few hours. Even a day later they were excellent, but I didn’t love them while they were still really warm. As they cooled, the glaze hardened nicely and they developed a great texture.
It’s fairly hard to match a great bakery donut at home, but I gave it a valiant effort and they aren’t that hard to make if you have the equipment.