I have been trying something new with my husband and kids. At the start of the day, I ask them, "if I could do one thing for you today, to make your day happier. What would it be?"
With my husband, it's things like..."Change the litter box." or "Fold the laundry sitting in the family room."
But with my kids, it always revolves around me baking for them. One day the boys each agreed that they would like to get home from school and have fresh banana bread for a snack. So I made that happen, and it completely changed the tone of the evening.
Normally after school time is spent with me yelling at them to buckle down and finish their homework, rushing around to finish cleaning, cooking supper.... and refereeing their fights.
But on this particular banana bread day, we all had a piece together while chatting about the "best parts" of their day at school. After snack time was finished they nicely and quietly went off to play TOGETHER. This was a bit of a miracle. Then later on, when I reminded the boys of their homework responsibilities..... they sat down at the table and did it.... TOGETHER. By this time it was probably 6pm, we had been home from school for over 3 hours, and I had yet to referee one fight. We ate dinner on time, they even went to bed on time.
While I may not be able to make all their wishes of fresh baked treats happen daily after school. I have decided to make it happen a bit more often, and continue the routine of snack time chats. The one little change in my attitude and in our routine, has made for less stress for us all, and a family that is happier all together.
One day last week, Owen requested "sugar donuts", and since I had already planned to make a fall themed donut for the blog anyways, I decided to combine his wishes with my work. I made a batch of these Pumpkin Ale Doughnuts for the adults of the house, and my blog. I then fried the scraps and doughnut holes up, and tossed them in sugar for the kids.
Owen was very pleased, as were his brother and sister. Snack time that day was filled with chats about gym class, and recess, while they all licked their fingers clean of sticky donut sugar.
Pumpkin Ale Doughnuts
1 tbs active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tsp
1 tbs salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup warm pumpkin ale (I use Shipyard Pumpkinhead)
1 cup pumpkin puree
About 4 cups of all purpose flour
2 qts of vegetable oil, or lard for frying
For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup pumpkin ale
pinch of salt
Add yeast, warm water plus 1 tsp sugar together in a small bowl, stir and set aside to proof. Once it has foamed up, it is ready to use.
In the bowl of your electric stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook, add 1/2 cup sugar, salt, pumpkin ale, pumpkin puree, egg, yeast mixture, and two cups of flour. Mix on medium speed until everything is combined.
While the mixer is on medium speed, slowly add in flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough starts to come together and is shaggy looking. Turn mixer onto medium-high speed, and allow the mixer to "knead" the dough. It should pull away from the sides of the bowl. If it appears to be too sticky, add in 1/4 cup of flour until the dough starts to pull away.
Once the dough is elastic and smooth, place in a buttered bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm spot to rise, until it has at least doubled in volume. This can take hours depending on how warm or cold your house is.
Once the dough has doubled, punch it down and remove any bubbles that may have formed.
Roll the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until it is about 1/2 inch thick, using a donut cutter, cut it into about 12. Allow the donuts to rise on a greased baking sheet until they have more than doubled in size. They should appear to be pillowy, and look as if they could pop if you poked them.
You can use the scraps as desired, I chose to not re-roll them, but to cut them into strips and fry them as is. If you re-roll the dough will be very elastic, and result in a chewy donut.
While the donuts are rising, preheat your oil to 370 degrees. I use an electric fryer, but you can also use a heavy bottomed pot on your stove top, with a candy thermometer attached.
Once the oil preheated and the donuts have more than doubled in size. Fry them in small batches of no more than 3 (if using a standard size electric fryer or dutch oven)
Fry on one side until it is golden brown, and then flip. Once they are golden on each side, with a dough colored ring around the outside, remove from oil and place on a cooling wrack or on paper towels to cool.
To prepare glaze, whisk powdered sugar with pumpkin ale.
Dip each donut into the glaze and place on a cooling wrack to dry.
Toss donut wholes and fried scraps in any extra glaze, or in cinnamon and sugar.