Reminiscing about the donut days made me really REALLY want a coconut long john like those I had as a kid. I knew I could get the texture and flavor of the icing correct since I had recently made Colette Peters' version of Buttercream and it seemed to be the same as I would have had in coconut long johns. The major obstacle would be the dough for the long john.
I believe I stated, "like the texture of a Krispy Kreme donut without glaze". After careful consideration (and perusing many a donut recipe) I realized it was not at all like a Krispy Kreme because KK is a raised donut (meaning, made with yeast and allowed to rise after mixing the dough and then again after rolling and cutting). It was not exactly like a cake donut but the texture of a cake donut is closer to what I wanted. I found a recipe for something called Long Island Crullers. The description of this was what hooked me, "This plain, but by no means ordinary doughnut, is richer and crustier than a regular cake doughnut." That's it!
The amount of nutmeg in this recipe really sounded like way too much and I was especially nervous about the flavor as I was rolling out the dough and saw all those flecks of nutmeg... I didn't think it looked right at all however, in reading so many donut (and doughnut) recipes, I found that over half of them had at least some nutmeg so I forged ahead.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 large eggs plus one extra yolk
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
Vegetable shortening for frying
Whisk together the flours, baking powder, nutmeg and salt.
Beat together the eggs, egg yolk, and sugar.
Add the vanilla, melted butter and milk. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and chill the dough in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes to firm up and make handling easier.
Roll dough then cut it using a doughnut cutter.
Meanwhile, heat shortening to about 365*F (185*C), not any hotter.
Fry a few doughnuts at a time for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula and place on paper towels to drain. Continue until all the dough has been fried. When cooled slightly, sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen doughnuts.
I followed the recipe up to placing the dough in the fridge, then I ran to the grocery store for sweetened coconut (because the bag I had in the cupboard was really old and nasty... guess that shows how often I use coconut).
I rolled out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. (This would have been perfect if I was going for the standard donut shape but I wanted a long john.) I cut long strips of dough and folded them in half. The technique here was correct, but when placed in the oil, they puffed a little more than I expected and I had to fry them extra dark in order to fully cook the dough in the middle. I did a bit of lightening to the photo and on my screen, they look to be the correct color of the original. Yes, the original coconut long john was a bit brown. Certainly not that sickly yellow color I see on most long johns I run across.
Coconut Long John
The texture I was looking for was very close to this recipe. I would guess that if my long johns were to sit for a short time in a humid kitchen they would lose a bit of the outer crunch and be even closer in texture to the original. The flavor of the nutmeg was not particularly noticable but I still think the original long john did not have nutmeg. On its own, this was an excellent donut. As a substitute for a memory? Close. Close enough that I no longer have a craving for a coconut long john.
Buttercream Filling and Icing
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.
1/2 cup milk
2 tsp. clear vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioners' sugar
Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix at low speed until smooth. If stiffer icing is needed, or if the weather is very warm, add a little more confectioners' sugar.
I needed coffee to cut some of the sweetness of the long john. It didn't make me particularly want a cigarette.
My daughter thought these were good also, but she had chocolate icing rather than vanilla. She is now zipping around the house at light speed. How in the world did our parents ever stand us on a near-constant sugar high?