Spudnut, what’s that? Spudnuts were first created in the 1940’s by two brothers in Utah. After visiting Germany, where they had tasted doughnuts made from potatoes, they attempted to recreate the dessert in the United States. In the mid-1940’s, the brothers’ spudnut shop had become a chain with franchises popping up all over the country, though few remain today.
I first had a spudnut about two years ago on Mother’s Day. My mother-in-law was in Chicago and we treated her to a Ramos Gin Fizz and a spudnut at Scofflaw. It made such an impression that now, more than two years later, I am trying to recreate it. I seem to remember they topped their spudnut with an herbed sugar and lemon curd. For my recreation, I chose basil sugar with lemon curd, but really, you can choose whatever you like. They’re just like doughnuts, so go nuts with it… See what I did there?
Reading about the history of spudnuts, partially on Wikipedia, of course, it says that there were several incarnations of the recipe involving both mashed potatoes, potato flour, and a “dried potato mix” (um, yum…?). The brothers developed this dried potato mix because it made it easier to recreate the flavor in their franchises. However, I’m not going to buy special potato flour for this recipe and I’m going to try to maintain my streak of never, ever, buying dried potato flakes, so mashed potatoes it is!
Turns out, today is National Potato Day. I can only imagine whoever created such a day had spudnuts in mind. I mean, what truer form is there of a potato than cooked, mashed up, fried with some sugar and other ingredients, dipped in more sugar and covered with a sweet, lemon sauce? Clearly the potato flavor is going to shine through brightly. Right? No. No, it doesn’t. You likely won’t even be able to tell that there is a potato in there. You could probably even make them and serve them to your friends without telling them that there are potatoes involved and they would never even guess it. Unless one of your friends has a potato allergy. Then you should tell them there are potatoes in the recipe!! What are you thinking?! Be a better friend!
Spudnuts with Basil Sugar and Lemon Curd
A variation of this recipe from Saveur.
1 large potato
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup lemon curd (I like Dickinson’s)
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup sugar
Peel and cube potatoes. Rinse potatoes a few times. Boil potatoes for about 25 minutes.When soft, rinse and mash with a fork.
Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a separate, larger bowl, mix together the potatoes, sugar, eggs, milk, butter, and 1 tsp. of lemon zest. Stir until just combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir just until there are no more streaks of flour mixture. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
Spray a large piece of wax paper with cooking spray and lightly flour. Scoop the dough out onto the paper. Lightly spray the top of the dough with cooking spray. This dough will be very sticky. Roll out the dough with your hands to 1/2 inch thick. For spudnut holes, cut the dough into 12 relatively equal pieces, rolling each into a ball. You can also make regular-shaped spudnuts by using a doughnut cutter, but be sure to lightly spray the doughnut cutter with cooking spray first.
Fill a large saucepan with oil, approximately two inches up the side of the pan. Heat the oil until a thermometer reads 350 degrees.
Without crowding the pan, drop 2-3 spudnuts into the pan at a time, for about 4 minutes apiece, turning each spudnut in the oil about halfway through. When done, remove from the oil and allow to cool on a cooling rack over a baking sheet.
While letting the spudnuts cool, melt the lemon curd, water, 2 tsp. of lemon juice, and a tsp. of lemon zest together in a small saucepan.
In a food processor, pulse 1/4 cup of fresh basil and 1/2 cup of sugar together.
Sprinkle still-warm spudnuts with basil sugar and drizzle with lemon curd mixture.
It might not be intuitive to add mashed potatoes to your doughnut mix, but I do hope you give this recipe a try. The spudnuts are more similar to an old fashioned cake doughnut, rather than the yeast doughnuts that you might be used to. And, if you can even imagine it, they come out of the hot oil slightly sweet and surprisingly light, with a slightly crisp exterior. They’re yummy, they’re the perfect way to celebrate National Potato Day in style, and you get to say “spudnut,” so it’s really a win-win-win. Enjoy!