Whether you consider doughnuts required comfort food or occasional indulgence, you must have noticed the growing number of artisan doughnut shops with their offerings ranging from simple to exotic.
You can seek out these artisan doughnuts, or you can make your own artisan doughnuts at home.
Yes, doughnuts are surprisingly easy to make at home, requiring little specialized equipment. If you’re frying doughnuts, you’ll need something to use for a doughnut cutter and equipment for frying. If you’re baking doughnuts, they’ll turn out much prettier if you bake them in a doughnut pan. All these items are available at your local cookware store.
To get the lowdown on making doughnuts at home, we turned to Chrysta Poulos, creative director for pastry for Ford Fry’s restaurants including King + Duke, BeetleCat, No. 246, JCT Kitchen and St. Cecilia.
At King + Duke, doughnuts are on the Sunday brunch menu and fried to order. BeetleCat hosts “Donuts in the Den” as part of its Saturday and Sunday brunch. “We created the doughnut recipe but (BeetleCat) chef Andrew Isabella makes the decisions about what to do with them and the toppings.”
Poulos has been making doughnuts for many years. Google her and you’ll read about peanut butter crème brûlée doughnuts she paired with oven-roasted Georgia strawberries for Restaurant Eugene or bombolini doughnuts (Italian doughnuts traditionally stuffed with pastry cream) filled with housemade ricotta and served with honey-cinnamon syrup she created for St. Cecilia.
And if you’re truly into exotic doughnuts, you can try the recipe for the Fried Chicken Skin Doughnuts with Maple Glaze she created in 2014 when she and Alissa Mark won the Cooking Channel’s Donut Showdown.
For us, Poulos shared two baked doughnut recipes and one fried classic.
The baked doughnut recipes are simple, closely related to a quick bread like a muffin but baked in a doughnut’s distinctive shape and then either glazed or dipped in butter and flavored sugar. The doughnuts themselves are not very sweet. It’s the toppings and glaze that provide that extra sweetness.
Fried doughnuts are a little more complicated, requiring rising time and then cooking in temperature-controlled oil. But they’re so good they’re worth that extra effort.
Although Poulos doesn’t eat many sweet things at home, she knows that homemade doughnuts hit the right note for many. “There’s just something nostalgic about eating them. I find doughnuts make me feel like a kid at heart.”
Yes. You can make doughnuts at home. Try any, or all, of these three doughnut recipes from Chrysta Poulos, creative director of pastry for Ford Fry’s restaurants. You’ll need either a doughnut pan for the baked variety or a doughnut cutter for the fried version, but no other special equipment. And if you go for the baked kind, you’ll have hot doughnuts on the table in about 30 minutes, start to finish.
Chocolate-Coffee Mini Doughnuts
In both this and the Red Velvet Doughnuts, Poulos uses Dutch process cocoa because she prefers the color and the deeper flavor.
Hershey’s cocoa, the most widely available cocoa on your grocer’s shelves, is natural cocoa powder, not Dutch process. Hershey’s Special Dark, also available at the grocery, is a mixture of natural and Dutch process. To get full Dutch process cocoa, you’ll need to purchase online. You’ll find all Poulos’ preferred flours and other ingredients at kingarthurflour.com.
We tested the recipe with both natural and Dutch process cocoas and were successful with both, with slightly different results.
Any leftover coffee-sugar would be perfect for sweetening a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.
Fried Yeast Doughnuts
Poulos uses Sir Galahad flour from King Arthur Flour for artisan breads and yeasted pastries because it’s relatively low in protein. Since it’s only available in 50-pound bags, we substituted King Arthur’s unbleached bread flour.
Only roll out the dough once for doughnuts. Any scraps can be kneaded together, allowed to rest and used to bake dinner rolls. Form the rolls, arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and allow to rise again. Brush with egg wash and top with salt, sesame seeds or poppy seeds and bake at 325 until golden brown.
For the doughnuts or rolls, Poulos likes to have them rise until they’re grown to 1 1/2 times their size, not doubled as most recipes call for. She finds this makes for moister breads.
Cream Cheese Glaze
This is two recipes in one. You can use it as it comes out of the mixer as cream cheese frosting, or heat it and turn it into a glaze. When using it as a glaze that it doesn’t dry hard, but rather is still a bit sticky.
Our recipe calls for using a stand mixer, but if your ingredients are soft enough, you can mix this in a bowl with a wooden spoon.
DOUGHNUT TIPS FROM CHRYSTA POULOS
1. Doughnuts are always best fresh! Bake and fry as close to when you are going to serve them as you can. It will make all the difference.
2. To save time when you’re ready to bake or fry, do everything you can ahead of time. Whisk together dry ingredients or make sugars or glazes that can be made in advance.
3. A piping bag makes short work of filling tins for baked doughnuts. No piping bag? Use a food-safe plastic bag and snip a small piece off one corner.
4. When making baked doughnuts, whether mini or regular size, do not overfill the pans or you’ll lose the center hole. Be sure your pan is well-greased so the doughnuts release easily.
5. No doughnut tin? Bake the batter in a mini muffin tin instead.
6. Be patient and pay attention: don’t try to rush baking or frying. Pay attention to color and texture.
For the baked doughnuts you can touch to see if they are done, and they should “spring” back a little. They will also start to pull away from the pan a bit. Be very careful not to overbake.
The fried doughnuts will start to get color. Flip them over several times to keep that color even. If they are getting dark too fast, turn down the temperature of your oil. Be sure to use a thermometer, and monitor it during the frying, to be sure your oil temperature stays consistent.