Before you freak out at the idea of making doughnuts from scratch, check out this short-cut version which I've adapted from Catholic Traditions in Cooking, by Ann Ball (see p. 129). All you need is a can of refrigerated biscuits, some spices, sugar, and oil.
These are called "soul cakes" because they are circular, signifying, in the unending arc of the circle, the immortality of the soul. Add a double whammy of catechetical instruction disguised as fun and yum, as you make the seven-spice mix with your children, teaching them the story and theology of creation (when human souls came to be).
Preheat oven to 375º.
Make 7-Spice Mix: Have your child(ren) help measure each spice and put it in the bowl as you talk with them about how the seven spices represent the seven days of creation and remember together what God made on each day. If you haven't read it recently, it may be a good idea to read the creation story in a children's bible before you begin your kitchen activities. (Note: You can substitute other sweet spices, if you wish, or organize them in another order. My ordering below is simply alphabetical and has no correlation to the respective day of creation being discussed.)
- 1/8 t Allspice—1st Day: Light
- 1/8 t Anise—2nd Day: Firmament (Sky)
- 1/8 t Cardamon—3rd Day: Dry Land and Seas, Vegetation (Plants)
- 1 t Cinnamon—4th Day: Sun, Moon, and Stars
- 1/8 t Cloves—5th Day: Sea Creatures and Birds
- 1/8 t Mace—6th Day: Animals, Adam and Eve
- 1/2 t Nutmeg—7th Day: Rest (and Worship)
To signify the 8th day of creation and emphasize how it is the most amazing, blessed part of creation, pour into the spice mixture,
- 3/4 C sugar—8th Day of (Re)Creation: New Life in Christ's Resurrection
- 1 can refrigerated biscuits (Trader Joe's are the best).
Warm in a fry pan over medium heat
- canola or other vegetable oil (enough to come up to midpoint on the biscuit cakes when placed in the fry pan).
Remove from oil with tongs, allow excess oil to drip back into pan, and coat in sugar-spice mix. Place coated cakes on cookie sheets (covered with parchment paper for easy clean-up, if you'd like). Repeat the previous steps until all the doughnuts are fried and coated. Then bake until fully cooked through, about 5 to 10 minutes. Remove to rack to cool.
Makes 6 to 8 soul cakes; easily doubled.