Making Donuts

Sugared Donuts
@Raelove (17657)
Saco, Maine
November 13, 2015 7:35am CST
When I was a child, I remember my mother making donuts a few times. She didn't do it often, as it takes a large amount of cooking grease and more than she could afford at the time. Back then, cooking oil was still not well-known, so the standard cooking fat was solid white shortening that was sold in small or large cans as it still is under the brand name of Crisco, among others. It takes nearly a whole large can of shortening to create the minimum 3-inch depth to fry donuts, so it's not a cheap treat. You can strain and save the fat for subsequent uses, but I can't remember if my mother did that or not. In any case, what she made were the simple cake donuts. I remember the donut cutter she had with the removeable hole cutter, and how it magically turned the flattened dough into the round cakes that she would place carefully in the hot oil and turn until they floated to the top. She'd drain them on brown paper bags and then sprinkle white granulated sugar on them or leave them plain, which was my father's preference. He loved dipping the donuts in molasses or Karo dark syrup, while we kids loved the sugary ones. I've made donuts a few times in my life, too. It's time-consuming and messy, but a lot of fun. And there is nothing like a warm donut fresh out of the kettle for flavor and comfort. I always made the cake donuts my mother made, which were flavored with a bit of nutmeg. And I learned later from reading cookbooks that the light-as-air donuts we buy in bakeries are yeast donuts that rise and puff up before they are fried. While some donuts are now made with different flavorings, such as pumpkin, apple cider and chocolate, most of the decadence of donuts is the result of what they're dipped or rolled in. Whole donuts, that lack the hole in the center, are usually filled and glazed, with everything from jelly to Bavarian creme, which is one of my favorites. One famous local bakery here makes plain cake donuts that they top with a rich dark chocolate icing. One of those with a glass of ice-cold milk, and I'm in heaven. With donuts so easy to come by nowadays, there really is no need to make my own anymore. Still, I'm thankful that I did experience it through my mother's and then my own efforts, and that I can say, "I did that once!"
12 people like this
13 responses
@MALUSE (44612)
• Uzbekistan
13 Nov 15
Donuts were not known in Germany until a short time ago. What we've always had are donuts without a hole. I don't know if there's a term for them in English. In German they're called Berliner.
5 people like this
@Raelove (17657)
• Saco, Maine
13 Nov 15
Interesting. We have lots of so-called hole-less donuts here that are filled with jelly, creme, etc. I don't know that they're called by any other name. We also have a huge industry in the donut hole itself, which means that they are sold separately with names like Munchkins (Dunkin Donuts), or just donut holes at bakeries and grocery stores. They're good, but only when they are very fresh, as they tend to go stale more quickly than the whole donuts.
2 people like this
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
13 Nov 15
Hi Malu, Berliners are bigger, plumper versions of what English English just call Ball Donuts. The French have flatter versions called beignet and the Austrians have Krapfen. I think the Italians have Ciambella but they're a different shape.
@LadyDuck (182122)
• Switzerland
13 Nov 15
@MALUSE I was going to mention the Berliner, the donuts without the hole. I like them filled with cherry jam or custard.
1 person likes this
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
13 Nov 15
At risk of being a real donut geek, a cake donut is made from batter deposited directly into the hot oil and not from a dough.
2 people like this
@MALUSE (44612)
• Uzbekistan
13 Nov 15
You're the expert and I believe everything you say on the topic.
@boiboing (12881)
• Northampton, England
13 Nov 15
@MALUSE Thank you - as you know I can bore on the subject.
@Raelove (17657)
• Saco, Maine
13 Nov 15
The donuts my mother and I made were cut out from a rolled cookie-like dough that was like a thick cake batter. It was not dropped but shaped with the cutter. Hence, the round shape with the hole in the middle, which would not have been possible if the batter were dropped directly into the hot oil. Here, we call those fritters, not donuts. They take the shape of whatever they end up as when they hit the oil.
• United States
13 Nov 15
When I was growing up my uncle was a baker so we had our share of sweet treats. What a great experience for you learning how to make donuts with your mom. I'm also a big fan of jelly and creme and maybe one day I'll tackle the job of making some myself. But, as you said it's so easy just to buy them these days.
2 people like this
@Raelove (17657)
• Saco, Maine
13 Nov 15
The filled donuts are generally yeast-based risen dough that you have to poke holes into after for filling purposes. I never made those. But I do love some of them now when I can just pop over to the pastry display at the grocery store and grab one or two.
@LadyDuck (182122)
• Switzerland
13 Nov 15
Here in Switzerland also have Berliner, as MALUSE said below. The dough is the same, but there is no hole in the center and they are always filled with custard or jam.
2 people like this
@zebra2222 (5188)
• United States
14 Nov 15
I love eating donuts but they are incredibly bad for my health.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (17657)
• Saco, Maine
14 Nov 15
@zebra2222 They are, but as an occasional treat, I don't think they're worse than anything else I could eat.
@zebra2222 (5188)
• United States
14 Nov 15
@Raelove I enjoy donuts that are glazed or chocolate covered with cream inside.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (17657)
• Saco, Maine
14 Nov 15
@zebra2222 Oh yes, those are very yummy.
@chance216 (277)
• United States
13 Nov 15
That is such a great story, I have always had a love for donuts, especially apple fritter . Not sure how you would make one but I would love to try.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (17657)
• Saco, Maine
13 Nov 15
I suspect that fritter dough is somewhat akin to cake donut dough. I'll have to research that! Thanks. OK, after Googling it, I've learned that it is a yeast dough, which means that there is a rising time for the donuts. Instead of cutting out donut shapes, you cut the dough into small squares, fill them with the apple filling, then pinch them shut before letting them rise for about 30 min. Then you fry them like you would other donuts. Sounds very involved, but might be fun for someone with a big kitchen or for a bake sale, etc.
@marlina (79632)
• Canada
14 Nov 15
I remember my Mom making donuts only a few times. She also use Crisco and recycled it.
1 person likes this
@JudyEv (136783)
• Bunbury, Australia
14 Nov 15
I don't like the thought of using so much oil. And I don't really like them that much. For us, it's a better option to have them as a treat occasionally when we're out.
@Juliaacv (34150)
• Canada
13 Nov 15
My mother made something similar to this, but it was the donut holes. She made them and with raisins and dried fruits in them, and then rolled them in cinnamon sugar. It is a Belgium recipe that she used.
@Rollo1 (16685)
• Boston, Massachusetts
13 Nov 15
I really want to make donuts and I highly prefer those old-fashioned cake donuts to the fluffy yeast ones.
@gudheart (12741)
13 Nov 15
We tried making them once and did not turn out great! The dough just sunk :(
@amadeo (75678)
• United States
13 Nov 15
Donut has been around for some time.So do you think that the hole is only in our country?
• United States
13 Nov 15
The word 'lard' turns my stomach! I learned how to make the donuts at Dunkin' Donuts University - seriously! I don't eat fried food however.