Donuts are a yummy snack and if you want to indulge and treat yourself, you can learn how to make donuts on your own at home. Sure, it’s easy to just buy at the store but there is a different level of fun and accomplishment when you make your own fried dough treats. Another great thing about homemade donuts is that you can control what you put in them and the different flavors and ingredients that you want to customize which you can’t always find in stores.
There are different types and flavors of donuts. We will look at how to make donuts in a basic way and you can always add to it once you’ve mastered the skill.
History of Donuts
It’s always more enjoyable to eat a food when you know a little bit about where it came from, how it all started and the first people who tried to make them. Where did this delicious treat come from? Who are the first people who learned how to make donuts? There is actually a big debate on the real origins of the donut or as others spell it, doughnut. It is not associated with only one country and there are a lot of variations all over the world. The exact place and time, and the one person who created the doughnut are unknown but history shows us a few events that stand out.
As early as the mid 19th century, there are records that show the Dutch making olykoeks or “oil cakes”. These are early doughnuts that were balls of cake fried in pork fat until they’re golden brown. The center of the cake did not cook as fast as the outside so they sometimes stuff the cake with fruit, nuts, or other filings. So the hole or the filling in the center was not always intentional.
When the Dutch immigrants began to settle in the US, the continued making their oil cakes and other cultures influenced the style of cooking and how to make donuts until it became the donuts that we know and eat today.
As mentioned earlier, the middle or center of the cake did not always cook or cooked slower. And a ship captain by the name of Hansen Gregory, instead of stuffing it with fillings, tried to punch a hole in the center of the dough ball. The hole increased its surface area so that took away the uncooked center. He is the man who has been known to invent the classic donut with the hole in the middle.
Some people say that the name doughnut refers to the nuts that they place inside of the ball of dough in the center and others say it came from “dough knots” which is a popular shape of the oil cakes. In the early 1900’s people shortened the name to a donut.
How to Make Donuts
So now you know a bit more about the origin of your favorite food. It will be a lot more fun to learn how to make donuts.
There are two basic styles of donuts. One is the raised or yeast donuts which call on the yeast for leavening. These need to rise before frying. The other is cake donuts which call on baking powder for leavening. You need to chill the batter before rolling it to make it easier to handle.
You will need some special equipment when you learn how to make donuts. A deep fryer or heavy pan is a great cooking instrument for donuts. But you can also use a heavy deep large saucepan. You would also need a donut cutter. If you don’t have one or don’t want to buy one, you can also use a 2 ½ inch round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut the main circles and a smaller one to cut the hole in the center.
Classic Fried Donuts
The most basic way how to make donuts is by frying them.
Ingredients: You will need 4 cups all purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, 2 eggs, 1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 2/3 cups milk, ¼ cup butter melted, vegetable oil or shortening, coating or icing.
Make the batter by combining the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Then in a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or until thick. Combine milk and melted butter in a small bowl. This is the initial preparation on how to make donuts.
Add the flour mixture and milk mixture to the egg mixture alternately while beating on low speed after each addition until combined. Cover and chill the dough for 2 to 4 hours.
After chilling, roll the dough on a well-floured surface to ½ inch thickness. You should not stir additional flour to the dough because it may make your donut heavy and dry. Cut the dough with your donut cutter into rings. It’s important to dip the cutter into flour between cuts to prevent it from sticking. If you use the cookie cutter, make sure to cut the center as well with the smaller ring.
Then you can fry the donuts. Heat the oil to 365 degrees. The oil should be deep enough to allow the donuts to float in the oil. This is now the cooking step on how to make donuts. Take care not to splatter the oil. Fry them two to three at a time for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn them once.
Remove the donuts from the oil with a slotted spoon. Drain the excess oil back into the fryer and drain the donuts on paper towels. Repeat for the rest of the donuts. You should cool the dough slightly before coating or glazing.
Now you can coat the donuts for the last step of how to make donuts with your preferred icing, glazing, and toppings.
If you need some ideas, here are 9 decadent donut toppings that you can try to experiment with. If you also plan to make pretzels, here are the top 10 best pretzel makers.