Malasadas, which are pillowy on the inside and deliciously craggy and crisp on the outside, should always be eaten just minutes after they emerge from the oil. A specialty of Portuguese Hawaiians, these deep-fried confections were introduced to Hawaii by Portuguese laborers from the Azores and Madeira who came to work in the fields in the late-nineteenth century. In Hawaii, they are traditionally fried to order: you call in your request (at least a dozen—trust me on that!), pick them up when they are fresh and hot, and eat them immediately. Or, make them on your own with this malasada doughnut recipe.

The dough is quite sticky and getting it into the hot oil is a challenge. I recommend that you use a very lightly oiled spoon to slide in about 1/4 cup (a roughly 1-inch chunk) of the dough at a time. Hawaiians toss malasadas in sugar alone, but if you prefer them mainland style, add a few pinches of ground cinnamon to the sugar.

Makes 24 doughnuts

Ingredients

1 envelope active dry yeast (about 2 ½ teaspoons)
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar, plus 2 cups for coating the doughnuts
6 eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon salt
6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Canola or other neutral- flavored vegetable oil for deep-frying (about 2 quarts)

Directions

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and the 1 teaspoon sugar over 1/4 cup lukewarm water (100° to 110°F), stir to dissolve, and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

2. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat the eggs until they are pale and have increased in volume, at least 3 minutes. Switch to the dough hook attachment and add the yeast mixture, the 1/2 cup sugar, the butter, the evaporated milk, 1 cup water, and the salt. Beat on low speed until combined, then begin adding the flour, 1 cup at a time, and beat until the dough begins to come together into a ball. After all the flour is added, continue to knead just until the dough is soft and smooth, about 3 minutes. Form the dough into a ball.

3. Oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turn the dough?to coat on all sides with the oil, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

4. When the dough has almost finished rising, pour the oil to a depth of at least 21/2 inches into a wok resting in a secure wok stand or into a heavy-gauge stockpot and heat to 365° to 375°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Line a large platter or baking sheet with paper towels and place a large wire rack on the platter or sheet pan.

5. When the oil is ready, using an oiled spoon, scoop up 1-inch pieces of the dough and drop them into the hot oil, frying about 6 doughnuts at a time. Fry, turning them once, until deep golden brown on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon or wire skimmer, transfer the doughnuts to the wire rack to drain and cool for about 4 minutes. repeat with the remaining dough, always bringing the oil up to temperature before adding the next batch of doughnuts.

6. Toss the warm doughnuts in the 2 cups sugar, coating them evenly, and serve warm

Recipe is courtesy of Good Morning Baking, by Mani Niall.

Image by Erin Kunkel