What Makes One Doughnut Better Than the Next?
When assessing doughnut quality, we often think in terms of appearance, color, oil uptake, flavor, mouthfeel and texture.
How to Achieve the Perfect Doughnut
Please refer to the table below for some tips and troubleshooting to achieve the perfect, craveable doughnut.
Continue Reading for More Information on History, Spelling, Common Ingredients, and Equipment Used In Doughnut Frying…
History and Spelling
Humans have most likely been frying dough in fat since the cultivation of flour. However the earliest known usage of the term doughnut dates back to the early 1800’s. Doughnut is the traditional spelling, and is the most commonly used. The alternate spelling of donut showed up roughly 100 years later in early 1900’s. The exact origination of this spelling is disputed, some say it first was used in a published short story while others claim it originated from a doughnut equipment manufacturing company. Either way, the new spelling is commonly interchanged with the traditional spelling in American English today, with some of the alternate spelling’s popularity attributed to the expansion of the Dunkin’ Donuts chain.
Out of the many varieties of fried dough confections, doughnuts (or donuts) are arguably the most popular. Most people associate the doughnut with the ring-shaped variety (an American invention). However, there are many shapes and sizes including twists, crullers, beignets, and of course the doughnut hole! You can find a comprehensive list of doughnut varieties here: Serious Eats Doughnut Style Guide. Regardless of shape or size, we commonly talk about doughnuts in one of two categories: yeast-raised or cake doughnuts.
Common ingredients can include flour, sugar, shortening, eggs, milk, salt, conditioners and emulsifiers. Flavorings, toppings and glazes are optional but can be the tiebreaker between a great doughnut and an excellent one.
Flour: The flour used in doughnuts is typically a mix of a medium-high protein flour and a light or low-protein flour at roughly a 50:50 ratio. However, you may want to walk up the higher protein flour in a mix that will be used in a doughnut recipe incorporating ingredients such as fruit or chocolate in the batter or dough. But be wary of protein levels in your flour because going too high or low will impact the texture of the final product. To make things easy, there are premixed flour blends that can be purchased from millers as well.
Shortening: The majority of doughnuts are made using a solid fat. Liquid oil can result in a soggy final product with high levels of oil weeping and oil migration. This can affect the quality of the doughnut including taste, mouthfeel, texture, and coating adhesion. Animal fats such as Lard or Tallow make excellent doughnut frying shortenings and were in fact used in the original and traditional recipes. SCP All Donut™ is an excellent choice for a high-performance doughnut frying shortening. The fat content varies between yeast and cake doughnuts at 20-25% and 25-30% respectively. Selecting the right frying shortening is imperative and should be considered not only as a means of cooking, but as a major ingredient in your recipe.
Toppings & Glazes: Glazes are historically the most common way to dress up a doughnut. The simplest glaze is a mixture of sugar and water, but many of the gourmet bakeries and doughnut shops play around with endless combinations of flavors and colors with their glazes. Topping options are also endless and can include chopped nuts, sprinkles, powdered sugar, cinnamon, shredded coconut, and novelty toppings like bacon crumbles, gummy bears, and cereal.
Process & Equipment
In the early-to-mid 1900’s doughnut-making machines and equipment began to rise in popularity and now range from basic mixers, direct-to-fryer hoppers or depositors, to fully automated plants.
The traditional process for cooking both cake and yeast-raised doughnuts is deep-frying the flour dough or batter in a solid shortening. The optimal fry oil temperature is between 370°F – 380°F. It is important to not overcrowd the oil. Once added the hot oil, water inside the dough will convert into steam and the dough will expand. This process will cause the dough to rise to the surface of the oil and once browned, the dough can be flipped over to cook the alternate side using tongs, chopsticks, strainers, or another tool of choice.
Cake doughnuts are typically made by depositing the batter directly into the hot oil, and are fried for roughly 90 seconds at the higher end of the recommended oil temperature range (closer to 380°F), turning once. The dough for yeast-raised doughnuts must be proofed first. If your doughnuts are not properly proofed this can drastically impact the quality of the final product. If your dough is over-proofed, you can end up with collapsed, flat and oily results you’re your dough is under-proofed, your doughnuts may end up being too stiff in texture and density.
Yeast-raised doughnuts are fried for a slightly longer amount of time than cake doughnuts, roughly 150 seconds, turning once. The oil temperature should be closer to the lower end of the recommended oil temperature range (370°F). Yeast-raised doughnuts can be ring-shaped, but are also often used in doughnut recipes calling for fillings such as cream or jelly.
For more information on SCP All Donut™ frying shortening, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you!
The History of Doughnuts by Bethany Moncel @ The Spruce Eats
Doughnut or Donut? The Great Spelling Debate of Our Time by Kristen Aiken @ www.huffpost.com
The Serious Eats Doughnut Style Guide by Carey Jones @ Serious Eats