Homemade soft doughnuts are a fun way to spend time with the family in the kitchen. Making your own doughnuts allows you to add your favorite toppings. In order to make soft doughnuts, you need to fry the dough on the stove top. You can make the soft doughnuts ahead of time, and serve them for breakfast or a quick late night snack.
Place 1/2 cup of milk and 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening into a small saucepan. Place the saucepan on the stove top over low heat. Stir the ingredients until the shortening melts.
Combine 2 packages of active dry yeast with 1/2 cup of warm water in a bowl. Stir the yeast into the water, and add a pinch of sugar. Let the mixture stand for three minutes or until it looks foamy.
Stir the milk mixture into the yeast. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of sour cream, 2 large whole eggs, 1 large egg yolk, 2 tsp. of salt and 1 1/2 tsp. of vanilla extract. Stir the ingredients to mix them well.
Add 5 cups of all-purpose flour slowly to the mixture. Stir the mixture while you add the flour until a soft dough develops.
Remove the dough from the bowl. Place it on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough with a pastry scraper until it appears smooth and elastic. Continue to add flour to the work surface as necessary.
Roll the dough up into a ball. Place it into a slightly oiled bowl to keep it from sticking. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rise in a warm location for two hours. Punch the dough down and turn it over. Cover the bowl again and refrigerate it for two hours.
Roll the dough out to 1/3 of an inch thick with a rolling pin on a floured work surface. Dip a 3 1/2 inch doughnut cutter into flour, and cut out the doughnuts.
Place the doughnuts onto a sheet of wax paper covered in flour. Roll the dough scraps into a ball and flatten the dough back out to 1/3 of an inch to make additional doughnuts.
Cover the doughnuts with wax paper. Allow them to rise until they appear soft, which will take around 20 minutes.
Heat approximately 4 inches of vegetable oil in a large and heavy skillet. Heat the oil to 365 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cooling rack with paper towels.
Place the doughnuts in the frying pan. Fry each side until it appears golden brown. It normally will take around one minute for each side. Adjust the temperature of the frying oil as needed.
Remove the doughnuts from the frying pan with a slotted spoon and place them onto the cooling rack. Serve the doughnuts while they are still warm. Apply a vanilla glaze or icing and add your favorite toppings such as nuts, sprinkles or coconut.