Well, while I was on vacation these past few weeks, I taught my family how to make Cook Island/Raro doughnuts. The first time I demonstrated it, I made 50, and they were gone in less than 24 hours. The second time we made them, we doubled the recipe so there were 100 doughnuts. 'Should last at least two days', I thought.
Again, gone in less than 24 hours.
For the health and safety of my family, I didn't dare attempt a triple batch, but be warned: Samoans LOVE these doughnuts.
My late Cook Island aunt used to make these and sell them at the markets in Otara, New Zealand. She would sit there with her styrofoam box filled with warm doughnuts, bagged by the dozen. She never sat for longer than an hour or two before all her doughnuts were sold, customers often being turned away. I wish I could say that the following recipe was hers but, bless her soul, she did not pass her recipe on to me.
This recipe, which reminds me exactly of my auntie's doughnuts, comes from researching the internet, making Dutch Oliebollen every year, and experimenting on my lovely family who were willing - a bit too willing - to taste my creations.
Cook Island Doughnuts
4 packages (28 g) dried yeast
10 cups (1.25 kg) flour
4 tablespoons (50 g) butter, room temperature
2½ cups (500g) sugar
pinch of salt
3 (180 g) eggs
1 cup (240 ml) milk
4 cups (1 L) warm water
Put everything in a very large bowl, pot or if you really don't have anything else, a bucket. Mix until well combined (no dry flour patches).
Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise until doubled in volume. Can't tell you how long this will take because you could be in Alaska or you could be in Africa and rising totally depends on the temperature of your kitchen, the humidity of the air, your elevation levels...figure at least an hour.
Once doubled, start heating up your oil for deep-frying. We want to have it between 320-350° F (160-180°C) by the time we go to fry. Make sure the oil is at least 10 cm deep. Oh, and go get a chopstick. You heard me right, a chopstick. This is essential for the recipe.
Back to the dough. Stir the mixture down and then scrape out the very sticky dough onto a well-floured bench. Well-floured in this case means at least a centimetre layer of flour on your work surface, but add only as much flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking to your hands. If you add way to much flour at this point, your doughnuts will turn out hard. If you don't add enough flour, your doughnuts won't hold their shape. Ah, I never said this would be easy.
Roll out balls of dough just smaller than the palm of your hand - OK, lapsing into Samoan style recipe instructions here, but I forgot to weigh each doughnut. I think they were roughly 3 inches (7.5 cm) wide. If it helps, remember that we aim to get 50 doughnuts out of this recipe.
Once the oil has reached temperature, begin frying the doughnuts by picking up a ball of dough, piercing it with your thumb in the centre to make a doughnut hole, and then sliding the doughnut into the hot oil carefully. Immediately put the chopstick in the doughnut hole and swirl the doughnut round and round to enlarge and form the hole.
Fry both sides of the doughnut until golden brown. Remove with your handy chopstick and then continue frying. You may think you've made 50 doughnuts but in reality, after every member of your family has done a 'taste test' you'll end up with about 25.
Best enjoyed warm with a hot beverage, ie. Koko Samoa.
One last thing before I go. If you make my recipes, please leave me some feedback - good or bad. I love to hear if things are working for you and also if they aren't. And photos are welcome anytime!