I know, I’m not setting a stellar nutritional example here, but it was an emergency. It was Emily’s 10th birthday party today, a party she planned around a soccer theme, complete with outdoor game. Anyone in Calgary knows full well why we had to come up with a plan B. For anyone not in Calgary – the snow is ankle to knee deep (depending how old/big you are) and hasn’t stopped since Friday morning.
Of course by Friday morning any venue they could think of was booked up for Saturday, so Emily chose a cooking theme for her party. What food is more fun for 10 year olds than corn dogs and mini donuts? (We did provide the biggest bowl of fruit salad ever to try and balance things out a little.)
I figured out how to make these last year during Stampede, and quickly discovered you can be the hero of any party if you crank out homemade corn dogs for everyone. Seriously, they won’t stop talking about it for an entire year, at which point you’ll be expected to make them again. I suppose the only downfall is once you set yourself up for that sort of thing, you’re obliged to carry on with it for life.
1 package active dry yeast; instant if you’re in a rush (2 tsp.)
2 Tbsp. warm water
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for sprinkling and rolling out dough (use half whole-wheat if you like)
1 cup milk, at room temperature
2-4 Tbsp. butter or non-hydrogenated margarine, softened
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
canola oil, for frying
cinnamon-sugar, for dipping (spike sugar with as much cinnamon as you like)
In a large bowl, stir together the yeast and water; set it aside for 5 minutes, until it’s foamy. (If it doesn’t foam, throw it out and buy fresh yeast. It won’t foam much, but if it just sits there and does nothing, it’s inactive.) Add the flour, milk, butter, egg, sugar and salt, and stir until you have a soft, sticky dough. Stir for a minute or two, then cover and set aside for an hour, if you have time and aren’t at a 10th birthday party.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat with floured hands until it’s about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out as many rounds as possible with the rim of a shot glass, and poke a hole in each with your finger, stretching it out a bit as it will puff up as it cooks, closing the hole somewhat. If you like, cover with a kitchen towel and let them rise for another 20-30 minutes (this isn’t necessary, but will produce lighter doughnuts).
Heat about 2” of oil in a deep, heavy saucepan until it’s hot but not smoking. You’ll know when it’s hot enough by dipping in a piece of bread or a bit of dough – it should start sizzling right away. If the oil is too cool, they will take too long to cook and will absorb too much oil, making them heavy.
Cook doughnuts 2 at a time, turning occasionally with tongs or a slotted spoon, until puffed and golden brown, about 2 minutes per batch. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then toss in cinnamon-sugar while still warm.
(Tip: to make maple dipped donuts instead, add enough maple syrup to icing sugar to make a dipable consistency, and dip away.)
1 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
¾ cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 – 1 lb. pkg. hot dogs
canola oil, for frying
wooden sticks – bamboo skewers, popsicle sticks or chopsticks work well
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the middle, and add the buttermilk, egg and baking soda; whisk until well blended.
In a deep, heavy pot, heat enough oil to accommodate the corn dogs (depending on if you want to make big long ones, or cut them in half to make shorter ones, which are more manageable) until it’s hot, but not smoking. You’ll know when it’s hot enough by dipping in a piece of bread or a bit of cornmeal batter – it should start sizzling right away. If the oil is too cool, they will take too long to cook and will absorb too much oil, making them heavy.
Stick a wooden stick into the end of each hot dog (cut them in half first if you like), and dip them in the cornmeal batter to coat. Place them no more than two at a time (you don’t want to crowd the pot, or it will cool down your oil) into the hot oil, and turn them as they need it until they are golden. (When they are nice and golden they are done – the hot dogs should be well heated, but since they are already cooked you don’t have to worry about properly cooking them all the way through.) Remove with tongs and set aside on paper towels.