How can I Make Donuts?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2016
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Donuts, also seen spelled as doughnuts, depending on the region, are pastries made by frying dough in oil. Making them at home does require some work, but many cooks feel that it is well worth the effort because it is possible to make delicately flavored, light ones that can be eaten fresh, rather than several hours or days old. Because of the involved process that goes into making these pastries, it is worth making a large batch and planning on having a lot of people around the house to help you eat them.

There are two basic doughs used to make them: a yeast dough, which involves much more work, and a quick cake dough. Yeast donuts tend to be lighter and fluffier, while cake ones are richer and heavier. General rules for handling either batter are the same: start with room temperature ingredients, handle the dough as little as possible, and plan on refrigerating the dough before you work with it. Roll or pat the dough out to a thickness of approximately 0.25 to 0.5 inch (6.35 to 12.7 mm) and use a donut cutter, if possible, to cut the dough. If not, use two cookie cutters of graduated size to create the classic round shape. After you cut the shapes out, let them rest on wax paper for approximately 10 minutes so that they will form a thin crust that will prevent them from getting oily when you fry them.


Use clean, fresh oil in a spotless deep fryer or wok to make donuts. Any sort of oil will do, as long as it can be brought to 360°F (182°C) and held there without smoking. Keep a thermometer in the oil to check the temperature, and do not overcrowd it with the pastries and their holes. Remember that the dough will expand as it is fried, so leave wiggle room for the pastries to do so with ease. When the donuts start to turn golden brown, flip them to fry the other side, and then place them on paper towels to drain before rolling them in powdered sugar or frosting them. You may find that dipping your spatula in the oil, placing the dough on it, and lowering it carefully into the oil for frying is the easiest way to get them into the fryer, and remember to use a slotted spoon to remove them, allowing grease to drain.

To make yeast donuts, start by proofing 4.25 teaspoons (17 grams) of yeast, or the contents of two yeast packages, in 1 cup (236.5 ml) warm water. After the yeast has been activated, add 1 cup (125 g) of flour, mix, and allow it to rest for 30 to 60 minutes while you assemble the rest of the ingredients. In a separate bowl, beat 10 tablespoons (142 g) of unsalted butter with 2/3 cup (133.3 g) sugar and add three eggs, one at a time, following with 1 teaspoon (4.9 ml) of vanilla and 1 teaspoon (6 g) of salt. Add the butter mixture to the yeast mixture along with 3.5 cups (437.5 g) flour, mixing until the dough is golden and even. Butter a clean bowl and roll the dough around in it, coating it evenly, before covering it with plastic wrap and placing it somewhere warm to rise for one to two hours. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate it for three hours or overnight. Because the dough may burst the plastic, add another plastic bag to prevent it from contacting the air and developing a crust. Cut and fry the pastries as directed above, and enjoy them.

To make cake donuts, which are much easier and quicker, sift together 2 cups (250 g) of flour, 0.5 cup (100 g) of sugar, 1 teaspoon (6 g) of salt, 1 tablespoon (4.6 g) of baking powder, 0.25 teaspoon (0.65 g) of cinnamon, and 0.125 teaspoon (0.28 g) of nutmeg. Add 2 tablespoons (28.4 g) of melted butter and mix until crumbly. In a separate bowl, beat together 0.5 cup (118.3 ml) milk and one egg, and add this mixture to the crumbly mixture all at once. Knead the dough lightly before chilling it for at least one hour and then follow the directions for forming donuts.


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Post 6

There is a much easier way to make donuts, if you aren't a stickler for following the old fashioned donut recipe. I love taking shortcuts, and I don't care if other cooks look down on me for it.

I just get a can of refrigerated biscuits and cut a hole in each one. Then, I fry them in hot oil for a couple of minutes on each side. After that, to sweeten them, I roll them in powdered sugar.

The whole process takes less than half an hour. They taste just as good as the kind that take hours to make.

If you are all about saving time in the kitchen, give this tip a try. You'll probably become addicted to canned biscuit donuts, because I know I did.

Post 5

@DylanB – Glazed donuts are definitely the best kind. I have an easy recipe for glaze that only takes a couple of minutes.

I put a quarter cup of milk and a teaspoon of vanilla extract in a pan and heat it on the low setting. Once it has warmed up, I stir in a couple of cups of powdered sugar a little at a time. I let it dissolve before adding more.

Then, I take it off of the heat and dip my donuts in it. I put them on wax paper so that my counter doesn't get glazed as well.

Post 4

Does anyone have a recipe for donut glaze? To me, that's the best part!

Post 3

It sounds like it's easier to make cake donuts than regular donuts. I've always preferred the texture and flavor of cake donuts, so I am thinking of attempting to make them. I particularly love blueberry cake donuts, because it seems like I'm eating something healthy, even though I'm sure that the deep frying in oil cancels that out!

Post 2

I first learned a recipe for a kind of fried donut in home economics in 8th grade. Considering that a bunch of thirteen year olds with very little interest were able to make them successfully, I would say that simple homemade donut recipes are fairly easy to make.

Post 1

A similar version of yeast donuts are fritule. They call for some lemon zest and brandy in the dough. Raisins and vanilla are common ingredients too. I was told that by putting brandy into the dough less of the oil is absorbed when donuts are being fried. Usually the dough is spoon dropped into the hot oil, so their shape is somewhat irregular, not completely round. While still warm some powdered sugar is sprinkled over them.

Yum, a tasty treat for any time of the year, but traditionally they are made at Christmas time.

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