2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vegetable oil such as peanut or canola for deep-frying
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl and fluff it with a whisk to aerate it. Add the nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and whisk the mixture again to mix well.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the egg until frothy. With the mixer running, gradually add the granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add the buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla extract and mix well.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour the egg mixture into the well and mix thoroughly with your hands or a wooden spoon. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Continue to add small amounts of flour until the dough reaches the desired consistency.
Lightly flour a work surface. Transfer the dough to the work surface and dust the top of it very lightly with flour. Roll out the dough about 1/3 inch thick. Dip the removable center of a doughnut cutter or a 1 1/2-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter into flour and then cut out doughnut holes. As you do so, transfer the holes with a spatula to a baking sheet or platter. Reroll the scraps to cut out more doughnut holes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
Pour the oil to a depth of 3 inches into a deep-fat fryer or a heavy, deep saucepan and heat to 375˚F on a deep-frying thermometer. (Alternatively, carefully drop a doughnut hole into the oil and fry until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain the doughnut hole briefly on paper towels and break it open. If it’s not cooked through, the oil is too hot. If it’s very greasy, the oil is not hot enough.)
Working in small batches (do not crowd the doughnut holes!), carefully place the doughnut holes in the hot oil and fry, turning them gently with tongs, until golden brown, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain until cool enough to handle.
Place 1 cup of the confectioners’ sugar on a small paper bag. Place the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar and the cinnamon in another small paper bag and shake gently to mix. Just before serving, shake half of the warm doughnut holes in the bag with plain sugar and the other half with cinnamon sugar.
Arrange the doughnut holes on a cake stand or platter. Serve warm.
Excerpted from Christmas Family Gatherings by Donata Maggipinto with permission from Chronicle Books ©2003. Photographs by France Ruffenach.