During their first month operating Seattle's Top Pot Doughnuts, owners Mark and Michael Klebeck sold coffee, bagels and muffins, but the headlining itemsdoughnutswere curiously missing. "We were still trying to figure out how to perfect them," Mark admits. With a background in construction and design (and a few coffee shops under their belts), the brothers had little to go on except a 40-year-old fried-dough recipe passed down from their Polish grandmother. "We went through a painstaking process of trial and error to develop our formula," Mark says.
A decade later, Top Pot has seven Washington locations, a food truck and a new cookbook called Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts. Among its lessons is the importance of correctly proofing a yeast dough (that is, letting it rise). "You need a warm, sealed environment with a little moisture," says Mark. At their shops, the Klebecks use huge controlled-atmosphere proofing boxes, but for home cooks, they recommend setting a pan of boiling water on the bottom of the oven. They also advise filtering frying oil and saving it for reuse: Doughnuts improve as the oil takes on their flavor. Here, they share Top Pot's master recipe, along with three glazes and sugars that are just right for the holidays.