The Donut Project

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.  I went with the Alton Brown yeast recipe (adapted to suit my tastes) and pumpkin cake-style donuts from Bon Appétit.

I never would have made donuts on my own.  They are such a rare treat for me that the thought of making 4 dozen myself seems crazy.  But when I saw this month’s challenge, I was so excited!  Donuts are fun and everyone loves them… a great recipe to have in your back pocket.  Now that I know how easy they are, I would totally make them for guests visiting for a weekend.  I may even bust some out on Thanksgiving morning… maybe Christmas morning.  They seem celebratory to me and fitting.  Then again, they seem fitting for a random weekend now too.

As I was saying, donuts are really easy to make.  I must admit though, donut holes are not easy to make.  Does that surprise you? Because it surprised me.  Sure, they are easy to cut out since they have to be anyway in order to get a traditionally shaped donut.  They are NOT easy to fry.  The little suckers did not want to turn over after cooking on one side.  After fighting with some while also frying whole donuts (and almost burning the whole ones because I was fighting with their demon spawn), I ditched the idea of making any more.  I think you could probably bake the holes in the oven though if you just can’t bear the thought of wasting them.  However, you will have plenty of full size donuts to satisfy your needs.

In real life (and by that I mean the life where I don’t just whip up 4 dozen tempting treats that will surely increase the number on scale since it’s impossible to resist eating more than one when there is four freaking dozen on the counter staring at me), I prefer yeast donuts.  Those are the light, airy glazed ones (think Krispy Kreme-type).  Between the two types I made (2 dozen each… if you make one kind you’ll only have TWO dozen staring at you), I preferred the yeast donuts still.  The pumpkin cake ones were pretty darn tasty though!

I made a gingerbread glaze for my yeast donuts because I love the spiciness of gingerbread and gingersnaps. Plus, I thought it would be fitting for the season.  If you’d like a plain glaze recipe (powdered sugar and milk, pretty much), you can go here.

Now, go heat up some oil and get to makin’ some donuts. Okay, fine.  You can bake the donuts.  The texture isn’t the same, but some of the other Daring Bakers tried it and said they were good.  Sur La Table sells a donut baking contraption.  If you know me, you know I’m not one for frying things but in this case I went with “Go big or go home” and dumped a quart of oil in my Dutch oven.  I think it was well worth it for such delicious treats.  You will taste your homemade donuts and say the same thing I did: “These are the best darn donuts I’ve ever tasted.”  That wasn’t me tooting my own horn, they are just that good freshly made. 

. . .

Yeast Donuts with Gingerbread Glaze

Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe here. 

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time – 25 minutes
Rising time – 1½ hours total
Cooking time – 12 minutes

Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size

1½  cup milk
1/3  cup butter
4½ tsp Active Dry Yeast  (2 pkgs)
1/3  cup warm water
2  eggs,beaten
¼  cup white sugar
1½  tsp salt
1  tsp vanilla extract
23 oz all purpose flour (just shy of 5 cups, weight it if you can; extra flour for dusting)
~1½  quarts vegetable or canola oil (this really depends on what you’re frying in; I used a 2.5 qt Dutch oven; you need 2 -3 inches of oil)

Heat milk in the microwave for 1 – 1½ minutes until warm.  Add butter.  Milk should be warm enough to melt the butter. If not put the milk-butter mixture in the microwave for another 30 seconds.  Set aside.

 In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes.  If it gets foamy you know the yeast is alive and you’re good to go.  After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk-butter mixture (mixture should be luke warm – you don’t want to kill the yeast!).  Add in the eggs, sugar, salt, and half of the flour.  Using the paddle attachment of your mixer, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined.  Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.

 Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.  If you don’t have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead by hand until the dough is smooth and relatively not sticky. 


RESIST the urge to add more flour.  Do not do it.  This dough has a high water content and will be sticky – that’s what makes it good.  If it seems like it’ll never pull away from the sides of the bowl (say after 5 minutes of beating), let the dough rest for 5 – 10 minutes and turn the mixer on again until it pulls away from the sides.  Do not worry if the dough is sticky, it just shouldn’t be wet.  Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (I turn the oven on to 200 degrees, let it heat up for about 5 minutes, turn it off, then stick the bowl with my dough in with the door cracked. Helps expedite the process.)


On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to ¼” thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).  Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole.  I couldn’t find my biscuit cutters so I used a drinking glass for the donut and then either a shot glass or a pastry bag tip for the inner hole.  I preferred the pastry bag tip for the inner hole because it had a relatively sharp edge and cut cleanly.  Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.


Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F.  This will probably take about 10 minutes to get to temperature in a Dutch oven (not sure about a deep fryer).  Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown.  Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

. . . 

Gingerbread Glaze

2  cups powdered sugar

¼  cup milk

1  tsp vanilla extract

1½  tbl molasses

1  tsp cinnamon

1   tsp ginger

½  tsp nutmeg

¼  tsp ground cloves

½  tsp white pepper

1  tsp salt

Whisk together all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl (it doesn’t need to be smooth yet).  Microwave for 30 seconds or until mixture is very warm.  Whisk again until smooth.  Glaze one donut at a time, being sure to completely coat each one.  Set on a cooling/draining rack over something to catch the excess glaze that will drop off.  Let set up for at least 5 minutes before serving.


. . .

Pumpkin Cake Donuts

Original recipe found here.

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time – 15 minutes
Chilling time – 3 hours
Cooking time – 10 minutes

Yield: About 24 donuts & 24 donut holes

3½  cups flour
4  tsp baking powder
1  tsp salt
1  tsp cinnamon
½  tsp ginger
½  tsp baking soda
¼  tsp nutmeg
1/8  tsp ground cloves
1  cup sugar
3  tbl butter
1 egg
2 egg yolks
1  tsp vanilla extract
½  cup buttermilk
1  cup pumpkin  (Canned pure pumpkin or fresh cooked and pureed pumpkin – DON’T use pumpkin pie mix!)
~1½  quarts vegetable or canola oil (this really depends on what you’re frying in; I used a 2.5 qt Dutch oven; you need 2 -3 inches of oil)

Whisk together the first 8 ingredients in medium bowl to blend.  Beat sugar and butter in large bowl until blended.  Beat in egg, then yolks and vanilla.  Gradually beat in buttermilk; beat in pumpkin.  Using rubber spatula, fold in dry ingredients in 4 additions, blending gently after each addition.  Cover with plastic; chill 3 hours.

On a well-floured surface, press out 1/3 of dough to 1/2- to 2/3-inch thickness. Using 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) -diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds.  Using 1-inch (25 mm) diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.  Or use a glass and shot glass to cut them out, as in the above recipe.  Arrange on sheets.  Repeat with remaining dough in 2 more batches. Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.

Line 2 baking sheets with several layers of paper towels.  Pour oil into large deep skillet to depth of about 2 inches.  Attach deep-fry thermometer and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F . Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side.  Using slotted spoon or tongs, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain.  Cool completely.

You can enjoy these as-is but I dipped mine in cinnamon sugar once they were cooled.  About 1 cup of white sugar (or powdered if you prefer) and a tablespoon of cinnamon.  Yum!

This entry was posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Christmas, coffee, Daring Bakers, Daring Kitchen, dessert, Holidays, Party Ideas, pumpkin, special occasion treat, tailgate friendly, Thanksgiving, Vegetarian and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Donut Project

  1. Holy crap are these donuts delicious. Although, I take umbrage with your comparison of these donuts to Krispy Kreme doughnuts (which spelling is proper anyway: donut, doughnuts -I do imagine this it the proper spelling – but who cares…oily cakes, anyone?). These delectable morsels are lighter, tastier, and less sickeningly sweet than your comparison. I do suppose in texture comparison they are similar, but you do yourself a disservice by stating these are like that mass produced swill.

    Damn you. Your delicious treats are the reason why I can’t lose any weight…

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