Homemade Old-Fashioned Doughnuts or Donuts

  • Serves: Makes about 15 3-inch doughnuts
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Variation: Jelly Doughnuts or Donuts

Doughnuts dusted with cinnamon-sugar.

Making your own old-fashioned yeast doughnuts (donuts) at home are quite a treat, and I share my secrets to mixing them so they turn out with the right texture and flavor! They are best eaten when still warm from the fryer, and these are light and fluffy. The problem I have is that I cannot stop at eating just one or two; somehow the combination of fried sugary warm dough just does me in! You can dust these with cinnamon-sugar or glaze while still warm from making, and we show you both ways to make them. 


To avoid overmixing the dough which results in dense and flavorless doughnuts, I recommend adding the pre-measured flour to the milk and dissolved yeast, rather than the other way around as stated in most recipes. You will stop adding flour when the dough has reached the right consistency or in this case, until it reaches a soft, sticky dough forms; that's why I have a range in how much flour needs to be added to the recipe. The amount will vary, depending upon the weather and/or how your flour was stored.

3/4 cups whole or 2% milk
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks or 12 tablespoons) unsalted butter

1/2 cup water, warmed to 105 to 115 degrees F
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (one package) active dry yeast

2 large eggs

4 to 4 1/4 cups bread or unbleached all-purpose flour; spoon into measuring cup and level to rim
1/2 teaspoon salt

Canola oil, peanut oil or shortening for frying

Simple Glaze:
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted; measure and then sift
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Or, Cinnamon - Sugar:
1 cup superfine or regular sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Make the Dough:
1. Lightly oil a large bowl. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, warm the milk with the butter over low heat until the butter is almost melted. Stir and set aside to cool slightly.

3. Rinse and dry the mixer bowl of a stand mixer with warm water, to warm it. Attach it to the stand mixer.
Add the warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the water mixture, and stir gently, then let sit for about 3 minutes more until foamy.

4. Fit the stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Add the warmed milk mixture and the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and eggs.
Turn the mixer on low and allow the dough hook to stir this mixture for a couple of minutes, making sure it's thoroughly combined.

5. With the mixer still going, add the flour in 1/4 to 1/2 cup increments, mixing for several seconds after each addition, until a soft, sticky dough forms. Add the salt in with the second addition of flour.
You may not need all of the flour or you may need slightly more.

6. Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl, then turn the mixer on medium-low speed for 8 to 10 minutes. As it mixes, the dough should make a slapping sound against the edge of the bowl. Once the dough is smooth and very stretchy, you are done mixing. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl.

7. Turn on the mixer for 30 seconds. Turn off the mixer and allow the dough to sit in the bowl undisturbed for 10 minutes.

8. After 10 minutes, transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat on all sides. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 4 to 8 hours, or overnight.

Make the Doughnuts:
1. Turn out the chilled dough onto a lightly floured worksurface. Gently press it into a rectangle and then roll it to a uniform 1/3 to 1/2-inch thickness, lightly flouring as you go along if the pin starts to stick. 

2. Using a 3-inch round cutter dipped in flour, cut as many rounds as you can. The scraps can be rerolled once to cut out more doughnuts. 

3. Cut holes out of each round using a 1 1/2-inch cutter dipped in flour.

4. Place both doughnuts and holes on a lightly floured parchment paper or silpat mat covered baking sheet. Leave room as they will expand during proofing.

5. Cover loosely with greased-side down plastic wrap, and place in a warm, moist place for rising.
SARAH SAYS: Because the dough is cold, you really need to find a warm place so the dough can rise.

6. Allow doughnuts to rise undisturbed for at least 1 hour to an 1 hour 15 minutes. Doughnuts should be visibly puffier and will appear to be airy and fragile to the touch.

Fry the Doughnuts:
1. Pour enough canola oil into a large heavy-bottomed pot to fill it to a depth of 3 inches. Heat over medium heat until the temperature reaches 375 degrees F indicated on a Deep Fry Thermometer (this will take about 20 minutes) - the oil will shimmer on the surface and smell like hot oil; keep the thermometer in the pan to continually monitor. Line a large plate or baking rack with paper towels and set aside.

2. One to two at a time, gently ease the doughnuts into the hot oil. Don't overcrowd them, otherwise the oil will cool down and the doughnuts will soak up oil and be greasy.
Allow them to cook 1 minute on each side; they will brown very quickly.

3. Remove doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon, allowing all oil to drip off.

4. Place doughnut immediately on the paper towels. Count to five, then flip it over onto a clean part of the paper towels. Count to five, then flip it over again; the purpose, obviously, is to drain as much grease as possible before it soaks into the doughnut.

5. Repeat with remaining doughnuts and holes. The holes will cook more quickly than the doughnuts; about 30 seconds per side.

6. Allow doughnuts to cool slightly.

Glaze the Doughnuts:
1. Mix all glaze ingredients in a bowl until completely smooth. Adjust with milk or more powdered sugar.

2. One by one, dip slightly warm doughnuts into the glaze until halfway submerged. (Note: completely submerge doughnut holes, then remove with slotted spoon.)

3. Remove from glaze, then turn right side up on a cooling rack over a cookie sheet (to catch dripping glaze.) The glaze will become more translucent as it dries.

4. Serve warm if possible, or at room temperature.

Or, roll in Cinnamon - Sugar:
1. Mix together cinnamon and sugar in a shallow baking pan or paper bag.

2. While doughnuts are warm, toss in cinnamon-sugar mixture or place the doughnut in the paper bag containing the cinnamon-sugar mixture and shake to coat.

Fried foods, such as doughnuts, are best eaten right away, if not within an hour after they are made.

Jelly Doughnuts or Donuts:

To make jelly doughnuts, cut out 2 1/2-inch rounds of dough with a biscuit cutter. Fry as instructed above. Use a piping bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip to squeeze jelly into the sides of the doughnuts until you can feel the doughnut get slightly heavier, then stop. It is best to fill them while they are still warm and the dough is soft and pliable.

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