After all these years of cooking, I have discovered the secret! Google.
Now, when I want to make something I don't already have a splendid recipe for, I google it and print maybe 8 recipes, and then I combine them all and create what I wanted to make. It works because all the research has revealed that there really is usually just one real recipes for any given thing, and all the differences are minor (like 2 vs 3 tbsp butter). Sometimes the difference between 1 tsp and 1/2 tsp cinnamon is significant, but usually it's not.
So last night I made cake donuts. I love cake donuts. But I wanted a quick, easy recipe to try a cooking method experiment with. So I googled it, got my half-dozen sample recipes, studied them, made a couple modifications that my experience says work, and then concocted my own donut recipe. And it came out REALLY GOOD. So I shall release it to the world:
Mix together 1 c sugar, 1/4 c sour cream, 1 c milk, 2 eggs, 1-2 tsp vanilla, 3 c flour, 4 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. (Except for the sour cream, which I used in place of butter, this is the "standard" cake donut recipe--I averaged the range of flour amounts, chose 2 eggs for richness and leavening power, and everything else on the sample recipes were almost identical). This makes a nice thick batter. Use food coloring if you want colored donut insides (we did pink, to appease Anda). At this point in all other recipes, they tell you to refrigerate for hours, knead in a little more flour, roll it out, cut it, let it raise a little, then carefully slip it into the hot (375) oil, etc etc. I didn't want to wait. So I spooned the battery stuff into a couple of small ziploc bags, sealed them, and snipped off just 1/4 inch from one corner. Then I squirted the batter, swirling it as I did, into the hot oil to make donut swirls. These cook very fast because the batter comes out thinner than a donut, but they taste really good. Let them cook until the exposed surface splits and batter begins to ooze out (like 1 minute), and then turn them and cook until golden. Let them drain on paper towels and then eat them plain or coat with glaze, sugar, or cinnamon-sugar.
It took us one hour to make everything, from "Where are the eggs?" to "How long do I wait for the oil to cool before I can put it away?". This sounds like a lot, but I was frying only three donuts at a time in a largish pot, rather than a frying pan, fryer, or dutch oven like most people do (I don't have a lot of oil to spare), and we made a couple dozen swirls (after each of us ate three while we were cooking them). And most cake donut recipes take from 3 hours to overnight to finish.
Next time we might try glazing them with this maple glaze recipe I found in a great cookbook Chastity gave me--the Bed and Breakfast Cookbook (which I use all the time). You make a standard powdered sugar glaze, but instead of milk, you add a couple tablespoons of maple syrup. Really really tasty on muffins (except then the kids just eat the tops off and throw away the muffins).
They look a little like funnel cakes. They taste like really good, fluffly, soft cake donuts (not that heavy kind they sell in the grocery store). Hooray for fast new recipes!