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Sour cream doughnuts a sweet treat

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Question: I'd love to try my hand at making a batch of sour cream cake doughnuts like the ones at Fiesta Mart in Houston, Texas, but I'd like mine lemony. — Henrietta Braxton, Beaumont, Texas

Answer: Doughnuts are yummy, so why do we give up the centers? A sea captain is usually credited with the ""invention"" of the doughnut hole. Supposedly the captain was at the helm of his ship one night, eating a fried cake, when a storm broke. Needing both hands to steer the ship, he rammed the cake over one of the wheel spokes. Impressed with his creation, the seaman ordered the ship's cook to fry future cakes with holes.

Fiesta Mart buttermilk sour cream cake doughnuts, adapted for home cooks, are crisp on the outside and light and moist on the inside. And because the dough doesn't need rising time, the doughnuts are ready in minutes. Serve lemony rounds plain or topped with lemon glaze.

Vanilla-based doughnuts benefit from a slather of chocolate glaze applied with a pastry brush or a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar or confectioners' sugar sifted from a small wire strainer. As breakfast fare, leftovers, refrigerated overnight in airtight baggies, can be warmed in the microwave or crisped under the broiler.


SOUR CREAM-LEMON CAKE DOUGHNUTS

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sour cream

1 1/4 cups cake flour

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon mace

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons nonfat buttermilk

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon lemon or vanilla extract

1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest (omit if using vanilla extract)

1-2 quarts canola oil

Dust a large baking pan with 1/4-cup flour. Cover a large rectangular portion of the countertop with wax paper or paper towels and top with a wire cooling rack.

Place sour cream in a small mixing bowl over hot water until sour cream is warm to the touch. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, cake flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and mace. Make a well in center of dry ingredients.

Place yeast in well.

Pour warm sour cream over yeast and let sit 1 minute.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, lemon extract and zest.

Add to dry ingredients. By hand, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, gradually draw the flour mixture into the egg mixture and continue stirring until all flour is incorporated; the dough will be very sticky.

Sift 1/8-cup remaining flour onto clean work surface. Turn out dough. Sift another 1/8-cup flour over dough.

Using your hands, pat the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness.

Using a doughnut cutter, cut out the doughnuts, dipping the cutter in flour before each cut, transfer doughnuts to prepared pan. Let doughnuts rest 10 minutes.

Heat oil in large deep fryer or stockpot to 375 degrees.

Transfer 3 to 4 doughnuts to hot oil and fry about 1 1/2 minutes per side or until golden brown.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked doughnuts to cooling rack and repeat process until all doughnuts are cooked.

Yields 1 dozen large doughnuts.


Diane Howard is a columnist for Hunt House. America a la Carte welcomes recipe requests. Send the complete address of the restaurant along with your name, address and phone number to: America a la Carte, P.O. Box 5994, Austin, Texas 78763-5994 or fax 512-453-2145. E-mail amercarte@aol.com