How to Make Doughnuts

Doughnuts have been around in some shape or form for hundreds of years. In England, it’s said that thrifty bakers, unwilling to waste scrap dough, took to shaping it into dumplings as a filling addition to soup, while in Germany and Holland, they dropped the leftovers into hot oil to make what became known as olykoeks or oily cakes. It seems to be the Dutch we have to thank for perfecting the forerunner of today’s doughnuts as they shaped knots in the dough (giving us dough-knots) and tossed them in sugar.

Today, with chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme, whole industries have built up around what was once just a simple way of using up leftovers.

Simple Doughnuts

No lengthy rising times for this recipe.

  • 560g (1¼ lb) plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons margarine
  • 150g (5 oz) caster sugar
  • Water
  • Extra sugar

Sieve the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar. Using your fingertips, rub in the margarine until you have a fine mixture. Gradually add water bringing the dough together until you have a smooth ball.

Turn out onto a well-floured board and roll to a thickness of approximately ½”. Using a cutter about 3” diameter, cut out doughnuts, and then using an apple corer if you have one, cut out the holes from the centre. Use a knife and do it freehand if you don’t have a corer.

Heat a pan of vegetable oil. Test to see if it is hot enough by dropping a ‘hole’ in. If it immediately rises to the top, the oil is ready. Cook the doughnuts 1 or 2 at a time depending on space in the pan. When the doughnut has risen and starts to brown, turn it over until it browns on the other side, too. This won’t take long. Lift out of the pan using a slotted spoon and allow to drain well and cool a little before placing on greaseproof paper covered in caster sugar. Roll the doughnut to cover and allow to cool slightly before eating.

  • Don’t forget to cook the ‘holes’ as well!

Classic Jam Doughnuts

Made the traditional way with yeast.

    < li>1 teaspoon sugar

  • ½ packet of dried yeast
  • 75ml (3 fl oz) milk, warmed to hand-heat
  • 225g (8 oz) flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10g (½ oz) butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Jam
  • Vegetable oil
  • 75g (3 oz) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the sugar, yeast and milk in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until the mixture is frothy. Meanwhile sift the flour and salt together in a warmed bowl. Stir in the butter, egg and yeast mixture. Mix to a soft dough and knead until smooth and elastic. Set aside, covered, in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. Depending on how warm the area is this will take 45 minutes or more.

Knead well and divide the dough into 12 pieces. Roll into balls. Make a little indentation in each and pop in some Jam. Press the dough together to completely enclose. Set aside again, covered, in a warm place until the balls have doubled in size.

Heat some vegetable oil in a large deep pan until it reaches about 150°C – it should take about 1 minute for a cube of bread dropped in to turn golden-brown. Add the doughnuts a few at a time and cook until golden-brown all over (about 4 minutes). Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain well before rolling in the sugar and cinnamon that you’ve mixed together on a sheet of greaseproof paper.

Doughnut Toppings

  • Sieve 1 cup icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon golden syrup and 1 tablespoon hot water. Mix well. Add food colouring if desired. Dip the doughnuts in the topping and decorate with hundreds and thousands or chocolate sprinkles before the icing sets.
  • Sieve 225g (8 oz) icing sugar into a bowl. Add 2-3 tablespoons milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla essence. Beat well. Drizzle over the doughnuts.

Anyone For Afternoon Tea?

For more delicious afternoon tea ideas, read our recipes How to Make Devon Buns and The Perfect Cake and Cuppa!

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