Leo Gong

Fresh and warm, this tasty holiday tradition rises from the Sunset archives

Rich Refrigerator Doughnuts (October 1963)
In 1963, Sunset could assume that readers knew a lot about bothyeasted dough and frying. There are far fewer bread bakers anddeep-fat fry cooks roaming Western kitchens today, so we'verewritten the recipe with modern kitchens in mind. Letting thedough rise overnight in the refrigerator gives these doughnuts arich and slightly tangy flavor.

"The Hallowe'en season brings to mind witches and jack o'lanterns, crunchy apples and tasty hot doughnuts," wrote Sunset back in October of 1963. Witches, yes.Jack-o'-lanterns, okay. Apples, sure. But doughnuts?

Throughout the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, Sunset paired doughnuts with Halloween. Everything fromafter-school doughnut parties to "frying tables" at evening eventsand the gentle reminder, "Don't forget the doughnuts," for aHalloween brunch menu appeared in our pages.

Granted, doughnuts have always had a special connection withfall: During harvest season, cider mills (especially in theNortheast) frequently serve doughnuts made with apple cider tovisitors, and in older times, autumn butchering yielded plenty offresh lard for frying.

Digging a little, we learned that Irish immigrants, who broughtmany practices we now associate with Halloween to America,traditionally handed out "soul cakes" ― often currant-studdedsquares of bread or spiced yeast buns ― on October 31 tovisitors and beggars in exchange for prayers for the donor's familydead.

Over the course of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, theholiday increasingly focused on children. Door-to-door beggingmorphed into trick or treating ― and soul cakes, sometheorize, into doughnuts. But food scares and sheer convenience ledto a turn toward store-bought, packaged treats, and Halloweendoughnuts, especially in the West, passed into obscurity.

We say it's time to resurrect them. Truly fresh, homemadedoughnuts are a revelation: ever so slightly crisp on the outside,light and cakelike inside, and still warm from cooking. They makecozy, comforting treats on a chilly, frightful night.

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