Several hours or the night before you want to eat the doughnuts, mix the ingredients together for the pre dough. Cover and let rest on the counter.
Three hours before you want doughnuts, prepare your dough. To do this, add all of the dough ingredients EXCEPT THE FLOUR to the pre dough. Mix it well with a big spoon and the gradually add in the flour, stirring all the time so there are no lumps. The result is the consistency of a thick batter. You can do this in a mixer if you have one that is big enough.
Cover and let this rest for 2 hours.
Scrape about half the dough out onto a well floured counter and scattter some flour on the top of the dough (there is a lot of dough, so just do half at a time). Don't worry that the dough is quite loose.
Using a scraper, fold the left and then the right sides of the dough into the middle and then fold the top and the bottom of the dough into the middle, working as quickly as you can. Don't go for perfection, just go for four folds.
Flip the dough over and, using a rolling pin, gently roll the dough until it is about 2.5 cm/1 inch thick. Depending on how absorbent your flour is, your dough may be loose enough to just flatten on its own. Once you have rolled the dough, use a scraper to cut the dough into squares somewhere between 3-5 cm square. This may look small but they do rise and they do puff up in the oil. You can use a scone/biscut cutter if you want to get round doughnuts.
Using a scraper, move ethe pieces of dough on a floured surface. Using scissors, make a diagonal snip across the dough. Lightly flour the tops and cover them with a dry tea towel to rest for one hour.
Repeat with the other half of the dough.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan or deep fat fryer to maximum 375 degrees F or 190 C. If you don't have a thermometer, test the temperature by dropping in a few bread crumbs. They should sizzle furiously immeidately on hitting the oil You can also look to see if they drop to the bottom and begin to rise smoothly to the top. If they stay at the bottom, or rise unwillingly to the top, the oil is not hot enough. Do not let the oil smoke - that is a sign it is far too hot.
Place a few doughnuts at a time into the oil. Don’t crowd them. If your oil is hot enough, they should take about 1.5 minutes a side to fry. You will see them brown up and you will know if they are ready to turn. they should be a dark, golden brown. You can use a probe thermometer to test the inside temperature if you are not sure. It should read over 90 degrees C.
Drain them on paper towel. Here in Canada, we either roll them in plain or cinnamon sugar, or serve them with maple syrup. If you would like to make filled doughnuts, fill a wide-gauge syringe or a piping bag with the jam or custard and jab it into the side of the doughnut to fill them. It's fun to see them expand! It's Lent tomorrow, enjoy them!