Classic Doughnuts


Classic Doughnuts

There are few things as obtainable, but strangely inaccessible as doughnuts. Sure it is easy to drive to Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts, but the lore around making doughnuts makes it difficult for most people to even attempt to make them. This effectively grants doughnut makers a monopoly on doughnuts. But if I told you that doughnuts are just fried cinnamon rolls, I think you would be more likely to make them. So I’ll state it. “Doughnuts are just fried cinnamon rolls.” The procedure is the same, the ingredient proportions are slightly different, and they are fried.

For frying any type of dough, it is important to carefully control temperature of the oil. If the oil in the pot is too hot, then the outside of the doughnut will burn before the inside is cooked. But if the oil is not hot enough, than the inside of the doughnut will be overcooked before the outside is crisp.

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You may remember from science class that heat travels from hotter objects to cooler objects. This is how oil fries food. Oil transfers its heat to the food (in this case doughnut dough) and begins to heat it. Of course, this will lower the temperature of the oil, so you must be careful to monitor the oil’s heat. The outside of the food gets warmed up first, then the heat gains begin to travel to the interior of the donuts by conduction.

This explains the heating throughout the doughnut, but it does not completely explain the crispy exterior. The outside gets crisp as a result of the Maillard reaction, which occurs when reducing sugars (like sucrose) and amino acids (in proteins) react under high temperatures. Thus the ideal temperature for frying allows proper conduction throughout the food to be obtained as the Maillard reaction begins.

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1 (.25 ounce) envelope active dry yeast
2 tablespoons warm water (105 to 115
3/4 cup lukewarm milk
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 eggs
3 tablespoons melted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups vegetable oil for frying

Makes 9-12 doughnuts


  1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, butter and 2 cups of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in 1/2 cup of remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl.
  3. Use the remaining flour to flour the kneading space, the dough, and your hands. Turn the dough onto the floured surface then flour the top of the dough. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
  4. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double (about an hour and a half). Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter. For handmade doughnuts, cut the doughnut into strips about 6 inches by 1 inch. Then connect the end of these strip to form a circle. Press down on the circle to flatten the doughnut a bit and to make the hole in the center of the doughnut proper size. Place on greased baking sheet or wax paper.
  6. Allow the shaped doughnuts to double in size (about 30 minutes)
  7. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 325-340 degrees F. Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula or slotted spoon. Turn doughnuts over when the doughnut becomes golden brown. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack or paper towels.
  8. Powder the doughnuts with confectioner’s sugar while warm.