Mix the instant yeast and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the warm water. Set aside at room temperature for 8-10 minutes to activate the yeast, until foam has doubled in size.
Add the eggs, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to combine.
Add the flour.
Using the dough hook, mix in the flour on LOW for 2-3 minutes, until a shaggy dough. Increase speed to knead 4-5 more minutes, until dough starts to pull away from the sides to form a dough ball.
Slowly add the butter one tablespoon at a time until it is all incorporated. Mix on medium-high speed for 3-4 more minutes, until a smooth and pliable dough.
Cover the bowl with saran wrap. Set aside in a warm environment to double in size, about 1-2 hours. (A great place to let it rise is in an oven turned OFF with light ON.)
Once doubled, punch down the dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough to 1- 1 ½” thick. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, line 1-2 large baking traps with parchment paper.
Using a 2 ½” thick cookie cutter, cut out the doughnuts and place on the pans leaving 2” space in between each.
Use a ½” cookie cutter to cut out the center pieces. If filling the doughnuts, do not cut the centers out.
Repeat with the process of rolling out, resting, and cutting with any remaining dough.
Loosely cover the cut-out doughnuts with saran wrap. Let rest for 1-2 hours, until doubled in size. Again, the oven with light ON works wonders if in a pinch for time!
In a big cast iron pot, prepare the deep fryer. Fill up so that you have 3-4” deep of frying oil in the pot. Heat the oil to 350F.
Use scissors to cut out the doughnuts on their individual piece of parchment paper to help them not deflate. Place the doughnut on the parchment paper sleeve in the frying pot. Use tongs to remove the parchment paper.
Fry in small batches for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown on each side. Be careful not to overcrowd the frying pot.
Transfer the doughnuts to a wire rack lined with paper towels to drain any excess oils.
Once cooled completely, grab your family and friends to join you in decorating them for Christmas!
Enjoy with Vita Ice Bing Cherry Plum Sparkling Water for a refreshing complimentary drink!