This very soft dough makes terrific doughnuts, though the first batch or two may fall somewhat short of perfection. (Doughnut-making is a slowly learned art, but even “failures” are usually much tastier than store-bought.) Dough must be refrigerated overnight, so plan accordingly.
1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
2. Beat eggs and sugar with electric mixer until very light. Beat in shortening and then buttermilk, then beat the dry mixture into the wet one. Dough will be very soft, somewhat thicker than cake batter.
3. Store in a covered container in refrigerator at least overnight. It will keep up to a week and can also be frozen.
4. At frying time, heat fat to 375 degrees F in deep, preferably cast-iron pans. (Chicken fryers work well.) Since boiling fat can bubble up quite a bit, be sure the fat level is at least 2 inches below the top of the pan.
5. While fat is heating, flour a rolling pin and roll chilled dough on a lightly floured board to a half-inch thick. If dough is too soft to handle, work in more flour as you roll it out, but try not to overdo; overworking the dough and adding too much flour are the things that make doughnuts tough.
6. Cut rings with a floured doughnut cutter. Test fat with a deep-frying thermometer to be sure it’s at 375 degrees F. When fat is ready, gently slide in several doughnuts, making sure not to crowd them. Fry until nicely browned, about 2 minutes a side, turning once. To test for doneness, poke with the slotted spoon you’ll use to remove them; when they bounce right back, they’re done. Drain on brown paper.