I don’t know if it was custom or culture, but growing up in Hilo, Hawaii, friends or relatives often dropped by without calling first. We had a gravel driveway and when we heard the crunch of car tires, we’d peek out the French doors to see who had come to call, then we’d fly about the house picking up.
Guests never came empty-handed. Usually they brought a box of assorted pastries from Robert’s Bakery that we could serve back to them.
Sometimes they brought homemade jams or jellies or produce from their backyard. When we could see there was no familiar bakery box in their hands as they ascended the stairs to our front porch, we knew we needed something to serve the guests – fast!
Rustling up refreshments was the girls’ job, since mom and dad were entertaining the guests. Using handy Bisquick we (actually, my older sister Judy – I was usually the helper) could whip up a coffee cake in a hurry.
Sometimes we made Okinawa Doughnuts. I don’t know if they’re even authentically from Okinawa, but these drop doughnuts are easy to make and use everyday pantry ingredients, a perfect recipe for unexpected company. When served hot, coated in sugar, they were great with a cup of coffee.
I found this recipe in my mother’s recipe box. As I recalled, the doughnuts are dense and delicious, with a crunchy crust when still warm, but a bit dry by the second day, so I halved the recipe to avoid leftovers. You can make the full batch for a bigger crowd. Upon tasting, mom pronounced these doughnuts just as good as the kind we made in Hawaii.
Remember that hot oil is dangerous to be around so be careful and never leave the oil unattended. Do not get droplets of hot water in the oil or it will spatter. And be sure to use a deep pot so the oil is well-contained and can’t boil over.
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Okinawa Doughnuts (An Da Gi)
Makes 16 doughnuts (about 2 inches in diameter)
1-1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
Vegetable oil for deep frying
- In a large bowl combine flour, 1/3 cup of the sugar and baking powder and mix thoroughly. In a small bowl combine milk and egg and beat well with a fork. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Pour oil to about 1-1/2 inches deep in the bottom of a small but deep pot and heat over medium heat until a deep-fat thermometer reaches 360°F. If you don’t have a thermometer for deep frying, watch for the oil to begin rippling but not smoking. You can test by dropping a small amount of batter into the oil. It should sizzle and float to the top.
- Scoop about a heaping tablespoon of batter and use a second spoon to dislodge the batter, gentling dropping it into the hot oil. Try to maintain a ball shape, but if you get tails or free-form shapes, your doughnuts may look unusual, but will still taste great. Drop additional spoonsful of batter into the pot but don’t crowd the pot. Leave enough space for doughnuts to bob about freely. Cook doughnuts for about 2 minutes, turning the doughnuts with tongs once or twice, so all sides are deep golden brown. You may need to adjust the heat – lower somewhat if doughnuts are cooking too fast and raise it if the oil bubbles begin to seem lethargic.
- When completely golden, remove the doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain doughnuts on a wire rack over a sheet pan or on paper towels.
- As soon as all the doughnuts are cooked, put the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a plastic freezer bag. Add doughnuts, a few at a time and shake to coat in sugar. Serve warm. Store any remaining doughnuts, cooled, in zip-top freezer bag.
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