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Little Pittsburgh Doughnuts

5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons salt
1 (1/4-ounce) package fast-rise active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm milk, 105 to 115 degrees
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled slightly
Vegetable oil for frying

STIR together 3 1/2 cups flour, salt, yeast, milk and oil in a mixer bowl. If using a
stand mixer, knead with dough hook on low for 1 minute, then on medium for 3 to 4
minutes, until smooth and elastic. If making by hand, beat together with wooden spoon.
Remove from bowl and knead on unfloured surface until smooth. Wash and dry bowl,
then return dough to bowl.

COVER dough tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled,
about 1 1/2 hours.

ADD brown sugar, eggs and butter. If using stand mixer, beat with paddle attachment
on low until incorporated, then beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Switch to
dough hook, add remaining 2 cups flour and knead in low speed. Increase speed to
medium and knead for 3 to 4 minutes, until dough is smooth and a little sticky. Transfer
to lightly floured surface and knead a few times until smooth. If mixing by hand, beat in
brown sugar, eggs and butter with wooden spoon, then beat 2 to 3 minutes, until smooth.
Gradually stir in 2 cups flour. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead for
6 to 8 minutes until smooth, elastic and slightly sticky.

OIL a 6-quart bowl or spray with cooking spray. Put dough in bowl, turning to coat all sides.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

LINE baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick foil. Place dough on lightly flour
surface and pat out to about 1/3 inch thick. Dip a doughnut cutter or two sizes of biscuit
or cookie cutters into flour and cut out doughnuts. Place doughnuts and doughnut holes
on baking sheets. Cover with dish towels and let stand until almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

HEAT oil to 365 degrees. Fry doughnuts 3 or 4 at a time, about 4 minutes per side, until
golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.