“What does it take to make delicious doughnuts?”
I get asked this question more times than I can count. I’ve often wondered why. They seem pretty straightforward and easy for me.
Now keep in mind, I’m the girl that blew up the Home Economics room (In reality, I just set many accidental fires). I’m also the woman who met my neighbors after every move by smoke detectors going off and at times even had smoke billowing out the doors and windows.
So, I think it’s safe to say that if I’ve figured out how to make delicious doughnuts, you can too!
As I prepared for this conversation, I started to realize why it might be hard for some of you attempting doughnut making for the first time. There are several misleading tips listed online that might be causing you unnecessary trouble. Because of that, I felt a series of posts to troubleshoot these issues would be helpful.
Keep in mind, I am not a professional doughnut maker, but I have had over 30 years of practice. I figure if I can’t make a delicious doughnut by now, there’s something wrong!
So what makes a doughnut delicious?
In my opinion, it needs three essential characteristics.
- Fluffy on the inside
- Tender on the outside
- Glazed to perfection
For the next several weeks, I’ll be troubleshooting some common mistakes and answering your questions on doughnut making. I invite you to leave your comments below; I will reply to each one.
If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to purchase my new ebook, The Doughnut Handbook. I share my recipes as well as the behind the scene story that tells a testimony of tenacity!
Let’s get started!
Today, we’re just going to be talking about creating the perfect fluffy texture that your doughnut requires.
The texture of a doughnut is a personal preference. In fact, there are towns where doughnut wars are happening over which texture of doughnut is the “right” texture and which doughnut is the best doughnut. I won’t heat up the debate, but I like my doughnuts airy, not in the least bit dense.
Because of this, the recipe I share calls for milk and water.
The milk/water combination is critical to creating the fluffy texture we want. Recipes that call for you to use milk alone tend to be denser. So if you already have a doughnut recipe you enjoy, but it is too thick, just cut your milk in half and replace the other half of the measurement with water.
It’s essential that you don’t just put all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Timing is important when mixing the ingredients of this recipe.
Make sure you pay careful attention to add the ingredients in order as I have listed in the handbook. Following instructions will help ensure you get that airy, fluffy texture you enjoy.
Yeast, sugar, and water should be the first ingredients you mix. Make sure you let them sit for about 10 min before adding any other ingredients. You should see a lot of activity out of the yeast; by the end of the time it should be bubbling and expanding well.
Now you can mix in your milk and continue to add the other ingredients in order as explained in the handbook.
If you don’t have a mixer, you can do this all in a bowl and finish the dough by hand kneading. Note: It makes a noticeable difference in the texture of the dough when you use a mixer like my Kitchen Aid.
Your dough should be tacky- not firm or sticky. I know this can be difficult to understand, but once you’ve done it, you’ll see the difference. I’ll try to offer you some guidance here so you can determine the status of your doughnut dough.
How does tacky dough look different from sticky dough or firm dough?
Sticky dough is messy, and I do mean messy! It sticks to everything and doesn’t want to pull away from you. It’s usually the result of not mixing your dough long enough. So keep mixing!
The tacky dough is just that tacky, it does stick to you, but it also has a slight firmness that makes it not feel as sticky and wet like sticky dough feels.
A firm dough is firm. It doesn’t stick to your fingers and would feel dense if you poked on it.
Do not overwork your dough.
Overworking the dough causes it to be dense, and we’ve already established a dense doughnut doesn’t measure up to our delicious doughnut requirements.
Okay, once you have your dough thoroughly mixed together, you’ll want to lightly flour your hands and roll the dough into a ball.
Place your dough into a bowl that you’ve oiled to prevent the dough from sticking to the sides. Also, rub some oil on the top of your dough before placing inside the bowl to ensure it doesn’t rise and then stick to the plastic wrap you use to cover the bowl.
Cold rise vs. warm rise
When using my recipe included in the Doughnut Handbook, you have two options for rising. A cold rise, or a warm rise. Until recently I had never tried a cold rise. I thought it might be nice to try and give you our feedback on the differences. After performing my taste test, I decided that the warm rise won. I thought it would be tempting to use the cold rise so I could make the dough the night before and have doughnuts more often, but it just didn’t yield my preferred texture.
The cold rise does cause a more infused flavor of the dough (which I liked), but it’s also denser than the warm rise doughnuts. Because of that, I will continue to use the warm rise method in my doughnut making adventures.
You don’t have to take my word for it; I have a husband, eleven children, four grandchildren, and two parents who often work as my “Testers.” While they all agreed the cold rise doughnut was delicious, they also agree that it was denser than the warm rise.
The Second Rise
For fluffy doughnuts, you’ll need to roll the dough out and cut into your doughnut desired shapes; let your doughnuts rise a second time. Make sure you set them in a warm place for about an hour more (more is not better so be careful not to let them rise too much). Follow these tips, and you’ll be off to a great start on making your own delicious doughnuts.
- Do not overwork the dough while rolling out the dough. I even pat it out into a flat shape about 1/2in thick.
- Cut your doughnuts out by pressing down with your doughnut cutters or mason jar lids or whatever tool you choose. Do NOT twist your cutter. When you twist, you seal the edges, preventing the doughnuts from being able to rise sufficiently.
- Butter or spray your cookie sheet with a cooking spray to prevent your doughnuts from sticking to the pan when you need to put them in the fryer.
- Cover with plastic wrap instead of a towel.
- Test your doughnuts to make sure they have risen enough by doing a touch test. Touch the doughnut if your fingerprint indent remains they are ready to go into the fryer.
Friends, following my instructions in the handbook, and the tips provided here, will ensure you get delicious doughnuts that are light, airy, and fluffy on the inside. Next week, I will share some tips on how to get that sweet tender outside to your doughnuts.
Until our next chat,
Mrs. Joseph Wood