Sunday, January 10, 2016

Great Great Aunt Inie's doughnuts

Last summer I travelled with some of my family to Westport, Nova Scotia, a teeny tiny little town located on Brier Island, just off the southern tip of Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy where my grandparents grew up and where my mother and her siblings spent their summers as children.

During our week there, my uncle reminisced about Aunt Inie (my grandmother's aunt, Inez Moore) and her amazing homemade doughnuts. On our last day there, we dropped in unannounced on Aunt Inie's daughter-in-law Pat who still lives on the island, only to find her making those very same doughnuts! So, after introductions were made, I was promptly put to work helping and got a hands-on lesson in making the infamous doughnuts. I taste-tested, for quality assurance purposes of course, and can confirm that they were indeed lovely. Pat was kind enough to share the recipe with me and I promised to do my best to master the recipe.

Since getting back, I have tried my hand at them a few times, and they've turned out ok, but never as well as Pat's. Last weekend I tried them again, and while I came closer, they still weren't right... so this weekend, I gave it one more shot. And finally, success! They came out crisp and fluffy and still a little dense, with that lovely nutmeg scent.

So, after a bit of trial and error, here is my take on Great Great Aunt Inie's Doughnuts:

3 tbsp shortening
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 cup evaporated milk
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Lard, or other fat, for frying
Granulated sugar and cinnamon, or powdered sugar for dredging (optional)

Cream together shortening and sugar in a stand mixer or using an electric mixer. Add in eggs, milk and vanilla extract. In another bowl, mix together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Slowly add dry ingredients into the wet to form a wet dough. Cover and place in fridge for 2-3 hours, or until firm. Dough can be made and stored in the fridge overnight so it's ready to go first thing in the morning.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/2" thick and cut out into doughnut shapes. The doughnuts will puff up during cooking, so choose a size that will allow for that. I use a large cutter about 3 1/2" wide and cut the holes with a smaller one about 1 1/2" wide. Of course save the holes for cooking as well :)

In a large pot (I use a cast iron dutch oven), or in an electric skillet as Pat does, heat your lard/oil to 350F. The amount of fat/oil you use will depend on the size/depth of your vessel, but I use approximately 1.5 lbs of lard which gives me 3-4 inches in the bottom of my dutch oven. This leaves plenty of room to avoid splashes while keeping the cooking doughnuts from touching the bottom of the pot. Make sure you use a thermometer to regulate the temperature, it will fluctuate as you go, but you want to keep it between 325 and 350F.

Drop the doughnuts/holes in a few at a time and allow to cook, turning occasionally and carefully. The doughnuts will take a minute or two on each side, once they are golden brown then flip over, then remove to a cooling rack when done. The doughnut holes tend to flip themselves as they cook, which is fun to watch, but be careful as they will of course cook quicker than the doughnuts. Once drained and cooled, you can serve them plain or dredge them in a mix of cinnamon and sugar, a sprinkle of powdered sugar, or a drizzle of maple syrup. Enjoy with a mug of hot coffee ;)


  1. There's no chance that I'm going to attempt to make Aunt Inie's doughnuts, but if you tell me where you live, I'll gladly come and taste test your next batch. And then I'll make my way to Pat's place in NS for a sampling of hers. For comparison and quality assurance, of course!

    1. Haha next time I make some, I will let you know ;)

  2. I'm literally salivating looking at those! I love that you don't need a deep fryer. I guess you never really do, but all the donut recipes I see call for one. Yum! Pinning this for sure!

  3. I'll be trying these! looks yummy!

  4. Wow those look amazing! Next time I'm in Westport, maybe I'll drop by and see if Pat is making some of these tasty treats. ;)