I haven't allowed myself to buy new baking pans in forever. It's not that I don't want to, I simply don't have room to store them anymore! Some are in heavy rotation and there are a few others I only break out once or twice a year, yet I can't seem to part with any of them. I have two doughnut pans, and while I probably only need one, they're different shapes and they were both cheap so it was easy to justify when I bought them.
I've actually been pleasantly surprised by how much use they've gotten. I could easily name 5 other baking pans that spend a lot more time gathering dust on the shelf :) When I want doughnuts quickly and don't feel like frying, baking in the doughnut pans is the answer, so I don't for a minute regret keeping those pans around.
That said, sometimes only fried doughnuts will do, and I've been majorly craving them ever since the weather started to cool down. A few years ago I made an apple cider doughnut that was delicious; I gave some consideration to repeating that recipe but in the end decided these pumpkin doughnuts looked too good to pass up. And it was definitely the right call! I made the mistake of frying these up while I was all alone down at Shane's parents house a few weekends ago, and had to exercise some serious restraint not to eat my weight in them. Slightly crisp on the outside and so tender inside, they were amazing! I might even go so far as to say they're my favorite homemade doughnuts to date. I'm already looking for an excuse to make them again this fall :)
One quick note in case you decide to try these - the dough is pretty sticky. The recipe calls for it to be chilled for several hours before shaping and I wouldn't advise trying to skip that step. I even refrigerated mine overnight and still found it sticky. Don't be afraid to flour both your work surface and your cutters so you can handle the dough more easily. I just gently brushed off the excess flour with a pastry brush once I'd cut the dough. The end result was totally worth it!
Cinnamon-Sugar Pumpkin Doughnuts
adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2004 (via Pinch My Salt and Annie's Eats)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
canola oil, for frying
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves together in a medium bowl. In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and pumpkin puree, whisking until blended. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended. Mix in the egg, the egg yolks and the vanilla, beating until completely incorporated. With the mixer on low, alternately add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and pumpkin/buttermilk mixture in 2, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (it'll need at least 3 hours - I left mine in the fridge overnight and fried the next morning).
Add enough oil to a large Dutch oven to measure about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in depth. Set the pan over medium heat. Let it start getting hot while you cut out the doughnuts - you're looking to get it to between 365 and 370 F on a candy thermometer. Prep the coating by stirring the sugar and cinnamon together in a wide bowl.
Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. It'll probably be a little tacky so you may need to add flour as you go. Roll the dough until it is about 1/2-inch thick. Use a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut rounds from the dough (you'll probably want to flour the cutter). To cut the holes in the center of the doughnuts use a small cutter (the wide end of a large piping tip works well). Save the centers - you can make doughnut holes with them! Gather and reroll the scraps to cut more doughnuts.
When the oil reaches the desired temperature, add a few doughnuts at a time and fry them for 3-4 minutes total (flipping once so both sides cook evenly), or until golden brown and cooked through. Use a spider strainer to remove the doughnuts from the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined cooking rack. Let the oil come back up to temperature before continuing to fry more doughnuts. The doughnuts holes will require less time to cook, about 1-2 minutes total (remember to flip at least once).
When the doughnuts are still slightly warm, coat them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture on both sides. The doughnuts are best shortly after being fried.