Buttermilk Sage Old Fashioned Doughnuts are light, crispy, elegant, and delicious. They are also surprisingly easy to make, and an impressive treat for company or brunch!
I have a confession to make.
I ADORE donuts.
I mean, I have a real problem with donuts.
My problem is I want to eat them all. All of the donuts. ALL OF THE DOUGHNUTS.
But for years, I abstained. I had no donuts. Not even one. Not even a doughnut hole! Because doughnuts are unhealthy, and donuts are calorie bombs, and doughnuts basically darken the skies like a plague of alien space ships come to take over your world.
I perhaps should have warned you there’d be a bit of hyperbole in this post. Because my relationship with doughnuts is not entirely rational.
Doughnut Days of Yore
How did I get this way, you might ask?
One dozen doughnuts at a time, would be the answer.
When I was a little girl there was a small doughnuts shop in town where they made their own donuts daily. They were always fresh and way better than any chain doughnut. My grandmother (who in true southern fashion I called Ma-Maw) would often take me to get a dozen when I was sick, or when we had company, or sometimes just because donuts are good and we wanted some.
We’d choose a dozen doughnuts and take them home and then we’d start in on them. We’d usually go through half the first day. It was not unusual for me to eat six donuts by myself.
I did not, as you might have guessed by now, have the most nutritionally minded upbringing.
Everybody’s Favorite Doughnuts
My favorite was usually a Devil’s Food chocolate doughnut with glaze. But I was not immune to the merits of a simple glazed yeast doughnuts, or a jelly filled doughnut (raspberry please!). I mostly liked them all.
Except those plain cake doughnuts with cinnamon sugar on them. Those doughnuts are really not for kids. They’re for adults, who drink coffee, and dip that cake-y fried goodness into that coffee.
And then there are the eclairs. Of course, eclairs are another thing entirely. I almost don’t put them in the same category as doughnuts. Because they are like the king of donuts. Pretty little choux pastry of delight! But I digress.
For me, though, doughnuts were just about the ultimate treat. To this day, I can’t eat a doughnut without thinking about my Ma-Maw. I think of us seated at her table, with the wrought iron chairs, staring out at the lake behind her house as we licked sugar off our fingers. I eat a doughnut and think of herons flapping down to the fence and big white water lilies opening up across the bright green marshy steamy Florida pond.
Mostly, though, I think of my Ma-Maw.
It Runs in the Family
In other words, doughnuts were our thing. A thing we shared with my Mom, who often could be persuaded to stop and get the doughnuts on the way to Ma-Maw’s house. My Mom is a cinnamon roll person. She would eat the other doughnuts, but her, ahem, sweet spot, was and is the cinnamon roll.
Cinnamon rolls, good ones anyhow, are massive. They are glazed, yeasty, cinnamon-y, and gooey. Cinnamon rolls are like those puzzles you do as a kid, where you swirl your pencil in circle after circle trying to get to the goal at the center.
And the goal of the cinnamon roll is basically a treasure trove of sugary cinnamon-y yeasty sweet goodness. It’s like a game to make you forget the day’s worth of calories you just wound your way through.
Or perhaps, she whispers behind her hand, the prize for successfully convincing your mother you are too sick to go to school?
Not that I would do that. No indeed.
Bats eyes, smiles.
You Are What You Eat
At the end of my undergraduate college career I was in a bad car accident, which resulted in a lot of weight gain. And I wasn’t the skinniest girl on the block to begin with. After I reached my breaking point I started eating better and exercising.
I lost over 75 pounds over the course of two years. I did not do any fad diets. I counted calories, and I moved more. I didn’t cut out entire food groups. Because seriously – unsustainable. And also, I’m an everything in moderation girl. Potatoes, pasta, and bread are ok. Just not as part of every meal every day.
It was both hard, and not hard.
Eating well is delicious if you put a little thought and attention into it.
I discovered that one CAN actually crave a salad. That avocado is not an exotic food, and that sushi does not necessarily mean raw fish.
While I was not vegetarian during my weight loss time, I did give up beef, chicken, pork, and game shortly thereafter. I will expound more on this, and my 80/20 approach to food and nutrition, in a different post.
I successfully kept the weight off for ten years. For much of the first half of that I was very strict about my diet and calorie intake. But I also lived alone, and had only myself to feed.
The Evolution of Moderation
These days, I’ve developed what I see as a much more sustainable nutritional approach. The majority of my diet is plant based. I try never to eat processed foods. I splurge when I want.
But I also make a lot of my splurges myself, from homemade lemon curd and goat cheese ice cream, to these very indulgent Buttermilk Sage Old Fashioned Donuts we are talking about today.
I’m heavier now than I have been since I underwent my weight loss journey, but hey, I just had a baby. I’m still nursing, and I have a ravenous appetite when nursing.
When this phase is over, I’ll go back to my hard core workouts. I intend to maintain my philosophy of an 80/20 lifestyle. I believe in moderation, which means that I like about 80% of my meals to be “healthy” and about 20% to be splurge-ish.
The moral of this story is that I believe treats, even doughnuts, have their place in my diet and at my table.
Doughnuts are the New Cupcake
My love for doughnuts has definitely been reignited lately, thanks to the current doughnuts craze sweeping the country. Much like the cupcake shops of a few years ago, doughnut shops are popping up everywhere.
Personally, I can pass up a cupcake. But a really good doughnut? Not so much.
In the last year or so Knoxville alone has had three premier doughnut shops open. And my favorite is Status Dough. They offer a doughnut I had never had before – a Buttermilk Old Fashioned.
This doughnut is pretty near perfect in my opinion. Slightly crunchy on the outside, but soft on the inside. Glazed. Good on it’s own or dipped in coffee. Subtle. Craveable.
And pretty big.
It captured my imagination, and I did a little searching and discovered that this doughnut is gaining in popularity. Or perhaps regaining popularity I should say.
And I absolutely love when a food inspires me like this one has. So I decided to come up with my own at home version of the Buttermilk Old Fashioned Doughnut. Hopefully it will help me get that Buttermilk Old Fashioned Craving out of my system!
Donut Versus Doughnut
Have you ever wondered which spelling is correct? This article from The Huffington Post indicates that the correct spelling is, actually, the one that sounds more arcane – doughnut.
This is kind of music to my ears, because I’m a vintage girl, and as a writer and a reader, I like words. But if you want to spell it donut, you certainly can. As the article points out, that spelling has been around for quite some time too.
Me being me, though, I’m sticking with doughnut.
The History of the Doughnut
I would love to be able to tell you that doughnuts come from x place. However, there are French style donuts, and Dutch style donuts, and even, as this article from The Smithsonian points out, Native American style donuts. The article gives most of the credit for the modern doughnut to Dutch settlers, however. And the trend continues, as this recent article from Extra Crispy explores in their “The Most American Doughnut is Cambodian.”
Moving forward in our fried dough journey, the Smithsonian article states that doughnuts really took off after the second World War, as many soldiers were served doughnuts during breaks from fighting as a reminder of home. That nostalgia carried through their homecoming, and on into the following decades.
The rise of the doughnut, pun intended, was fueled by what fueled a lot of post war growth – automation.
Automatic doughnut makers led to the proliferation of famous doughnut chains like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts.
And with that, the doughnut was off and becoming ubiquitous.
Want more doughnut info? Travelling the world, or even the US soon? Extra Crispy has a guide for you. This article explores some of the best doughnuts in the US, and this article explores doughnuts all over the world.
Is it wrong to think that I may want to plan a trip entirely around those two articles?
I did warn you at the beginning.
I have a problem with doughnuts.
At Home Hole in the Middle Fun
While I have excellent doughnut shops near me now, I was inspired to try them at home. That old fashioned buttermilk doughnut from Status Dough just captured my imagination. And because of it’s tangy, crispy texture, it just seemed like the perfect thing to try to adapt.
I also have a deep fondness for mixing berries with herbs.
I was working on this Blackberry, Sage, and Bourbon cocktail, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about old fashioned doughnuts nonstop.
And it seemed to me like those flavors could be pretty spectacular paired together in a doughnut.
And a few hours later, I pulled the first one out of the frying pan, and started dipping the old fashioned doughnuts in the frosting I’d put together.
And oh my.
I had to call my husband in to see if he tasted what I tasted.
And we both agreed – bliss.
Because in the end, if you’re only going to have ONE, it had better be AMAZE BALLS right?
Check out the recipe for these Buttermilk Sage Old Fashioned Doughnuts with Blackberry Icing below, and let me know what you think!
Note – You really don’t need a lot of special equipment to make doughnuts. A doughnut cutter like this, a rolling pin, and a skillet are really all you need. However, the recipe below includes some tricks if you don’t have doughnut cutters on hand – like using a Mason Jar to cut out your doughnuts!
Buttermilk Sage Old Fashioned Doughnuts with Blackberry Icing
- 3 Cups All Purpose Flour
- 1 Teaspooon Baking Powder
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 8-12 Leaves Sage, minced For a stronger sage flavor, use 12 leaves, for a more subtle flavor, use 8
- 1/4 Teaspooon Nutmeg
- 3/4 Cup Buttermilk
- 2 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
- 2 Whole Eggs, Plus One Additional Yolk
- 1/2 Cup Sugar
- Vegetable Oil for Frying You'll need enough to cover the doughnuts and then some, and you'll need to refill it about halfway through frying your doughnuts. I used about half of a large container of oil to fry the doughnuts plus doughnut holes.
- In a large bowl, whisk the dry ingredients together: flour, salt, baking powder, and nutmeg.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar. (This means mix until all the sugar is incorporated into the butter and the mixture looks sandy/grainy).
- Increase the speed to medium, and add the eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to mix in for one minute before adding the next egg.
- Slowly begin alternating adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk. A little buttermilk goes in, a little of the flour mixture, and mix to combine. Mix like this until all of the wet and dry ingredients have been added.
- Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and cover with plastic wrap. Place int he refrigerator for an hour to let the dough chill.
- Spread a piece of parchment paper on a work surface, and dust with flour. Take care not to use too much flour, or it can change the texture of the doughnuts.
- Pour at least 3 cups of vegetable oil in a frying pan and heat to medium low heat. The oil should not be popping - you want your doughnuts to cook all the way through and not burn or get too brown before they have had the chance to do that.
- Roll out your dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. The dough will be sticky - that's ok.
- You may use a doughnut cutter or a cookie cutter here, or, as I sometimes do, a Mason Jar, or big coffee cup. Press the cutter, jar, or cup, down into your dough to cut out a circle that's about 2.5 inches across. If you use a smaller cutter, or a Mason Jar, you may end up with slightly smaller doughnuts - but more of them.
- Press a hole in the center of the doughnuts if you aren't using a doughnut cutter. Sett he "holes" aside to fry at the end.
- Lightly score the doughnut with a knife. I like to make a few marks on each side - this is what allows the doughnut to get that crispy, slightly crunchy, uneven look.
- Place dough in heated oil.
- When dough floats to the top, turn it over, and fry on the other side. My doughnuts took about 2 minutes each side, but this will vary depending on the size of the doughnut, the temperature of the oil, and the size of your pan.
- Continue frying each of your doughnuts, recombining and rolling out the dough as necessary.
- When the doughnut is finished frying, place on a paper towel or a wire rack over paper towels to cool.
- Dip the doughnut in the icing and cover liberally while still warm, but not too hot.
- When you've finished frying all of the whole donuts, take the remaining dough pieces and "holes" and roll them into balls about two inches each.
- Fry the dough balls just as you did the doughnuts, but watch them carefully. They will cook a lot faster than the doughnuts, especially as your oil will be pretty hot now. I recommend doing one or two first as a test!
- 1 Cup Fresh Blackberries
- 3 Cups Powdered Sugar
- 2 Cups Sugar
- 1 Cup Water
- 1/2 Cup Milk
- Begin by making a simple syrup: place 1 cup water in a pan and 2 cups sugar into water.
- Bring to medium heat. Stir to combine ingredients.
- Allow to come to a boil, and boil for 2-3 minutes to make sure all the sugar is fully dissolved.
- Add blackberries, and allow to boil for a minute or two more.
- Remove from heat, and strain the remaining blackberry pulp out.
- Place into a glass storage container, and chill for at least one hour.
- Add powdered sugar and milk to a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of the Blackberry Simple Syrup and stir to combine. May use more or less blackberry simple syrup to taste.