Cookery Rhymes: Buzzy Brown

doughnut
Buzzy Brown came home from town
As crazy as a loon,
He wore a purple overcoat
And sang a Sunday tune.
Buzzy Brown came home from town
As proud as he could be,
He found three doughnuts and a bun
A-growing on a tree.

The doughnut came to us from the eighteenth century Dutch of New Amsterdam (Dutch settlement established at the southern tip of Manhattan Island) and were referred to as olykoeks, meaning oily cakes. In the nineteenth century, Elizabeth Gregory fried flavored dough with walnuts for her son Hanson Gregory.  She made some for him to take on one of his voyages, and she also sent along a recipe, so his cook could make more. These cakes didn’t have holes in them, however. One story says that the sea captain invented the doughnut by impaling one of the cakes on the ship’s steering wheel, to keep his hands free when a giant squid (genus Architeuthis) attacked the ship, on June 22, 1847. The spoke drove a hole through the wheel, naturally. The sea captain is quoted as saying, “You’ll not get my olykoeks, you slippery squid!” He then impaled the squid with his ship. That’s how we have doughnuts, fried calamari, and another story.
After the battle Gregory discovered that he liked the cake better with a hole in the middle and ordered his cook to make them that way for the rest of the voyage.
Children will learn that battling giant squids with a ship is hungry business, and that if the captain hadn’t thought quickly, doughnuts might never have came into existence.

Doughnuts
2 tbs white vinegar
3/8 cup milk
2 tbs shortening
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart oil for deep frying
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar for dusting

1. Stir the vinegar into the milk, and let stand for a few minutes until thick. In a medium bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla until well blended. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the sugar mixture alternating with the vinegar and milk. Roll dough out on a floured surface to 1/3 inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts using a donut cutter. Let stand for about 10 minutes.
2. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Fry doughnuts in the hot oil until golden, turning over once. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioners’ sugar while they are still warm, and serve immediately.

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