It’s the day we’ve all been waiting for: National Doughnut Day! There’ll be no guilt at scarfing down a doughnut (or two) for breakfast today.
But what about saving that appetite and whipping up your own delicious doughnuts at home? It’s not as difficult as you think – it just takes a little time and patience, says Chad Pagano, chef instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.
“I think there are a lot of chefs and authors who make this more difficult than it needs to be. They say that baking is a science – but you know what? Breathing is a science, and everybody does that.”
That being said, Pagano shared some of his tips for avoiding the most common pitfalls when making your own:
- Stop mixing before you think you should. “A lot of amateur bakers tend to overmix doughnuts. The best cake doughnuts have a little bumpiness and irregularity to them – that’s OK. Don’t overmix cake or yeast doughnuts; that makes the doughnuts too chewy and tough, and that’s the last thing we want.”
- Respect the oil. “People don’t respect that they need a certain temperature when frying. I fry doughnuts in shortening – the thicker viscosity doesn’t allow shortening to penetrate the doughnut – at a nice high temperature, 375 F, and that temperature needs to be maintained. Have a good deep-fry thermometer. If you’re using other oils like canola, bring it down to 360 F.”
- Don’t overfry. “A good doughnut is dropped in the oil and sinks to the bottom, as the gasses expand in the doughnut, the dough rises. Fry it about 1 minute on each side – and don’t flip it too many times.”
- Take a breather before you glaze. “You need to have patience. Don’t glaze doughnuts while they are hot. You want to make sure the doughnut is room temperature, so the glaze doesn’t melt off – it just looks sloppy. You want the doughnut cooled off a bit, then dip in into a nice hot glaze, and then shake it a little so the glaze sits on the doughnut.”
Feel ready to fry up some doughy goodness? You can even make them grown-up, adding a little liquor to the filling, as executive pastry chef Abby White does in Midtown Manhattan’s STK. She serves up doughnuts with a raspberry Chambord filling and advises that the liquor should be added to the filling mixture when the mixture has chilled to room temperature, and it should be whisked well.
Pagano points out that the flavor combinations that can be used in doughnuts are endless. He counts apple pie doughnuts, New York Cheesecake doughnuts, maple bacon and bourbon bacon doughnuts among some of the favorites in his arsenal. Try these recipes and get inspired to create your own!
Yeast risen doughnuts with peanut butter, cheesecake or caramel filling
By Chad Pagano
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¾ ounce (4½ teaspoons) instant yeast
- ¼ cup sugar, plus more for coating
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon mace
- 2 tablespoons nonfat powdered milk
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup high gluten flour
- Oil, for coating bowl
- Vegetable shortening, for frying
Set a small saucepan over low heat and add ¼ cup of the milk. Heat the milk long enough to remove the chill and raise the temperature just slightly so that it is just warm. Place the yeast in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and pour the heated milk over the yeast. Stir the milk into the yeast and allow it to bloom for 5 to 10 minutes. In a stand mixer fitted with a whip attachment, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar, butter, salt, mace, and powdered milk and mix until just well combined. Do not overmix. Add the egg and mix gently. Add the remaining ¾ cup of milk and mix briefly. Add the flours and yeast mixture and mix to form a smooth dough, about 6 to 8 minutes at second speed.
Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Set aside to rise in a warm, draft free place until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll to a thickness of ½-inch. Let dough sit undisturbed for 5 minutes to allow the dough to relax. Using a biscuit cutter, cut doughnuts into rounds about 3 inches in diameter.
Add enough solid vegetable shortening to a large saucepan or deep-fryer to come halfway up the sides of the pan when melted. Heat over medium heat to a temperature of 350 F. Fry the doughnuts, a few at a time so as to not overcrowd, turning once midway through the cooking, 2 to 2½ minutes per side. Drain on a paper towel-lined sheet pan.
Peanut Butter Spread
- 2 cups peanut butter
- 1 stick of unsalted butter
Beat butter in a kitchen aid fitted with a paddle attachment until light and airy. Add the peanut butter and continue to beat until well mixed.
- 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- ½ cup sour cream
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Beat cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until smooth and airy. Stir in vanilla extract. Chill in freezer until thick and cool.
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, diced
- ¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- Large pinch of fine fleur de sel* plus additional for assembly
Stir sugar, ¼ cup water, and corn syrup in deep medium saucepan over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cover pan and cook 4 minutes. Uncover; increase heat to high. Boil without stirring until syrup is deep amber, occasionally brushing down pan sides with wet pastry brush, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Add cream (mixture will bubble). Whisk in butter, then crème fraîche, lemon juice, and pinch of fleur de sel. Cool completely.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
By Chad Pagano
Yield: Approximately 15 doughnuts, plus holes
- 1 cup unfiltered apple cider
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
- ½ cup well shaken buttermilk
- ¾ stick unsalted butter, melted
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups sugar, divided
Boil cider until reduced to about 1/3 cup, then cool completely.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
Whisk reduced cider, buttermilk, butter, eggs, and 1 cup sugar in a small bowl. Stir into flour mixture until a dough forms (it will be very sticky).
Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat out with floured hands into a 13-inch round. Cut out doughnuts and fry at 370 degrees until done. When slightly cooled dredge in cinnamon sugar made with remaining cup sugar and cinnamon.