What kind of donut intro could I write that would really do it justice? The donut is a bonafide food icon. It’s a religion to some people. Probably. I love donuts, just like, oh I don’t know, EVERYONE ON EARTH, and if I had to name my top three, I’d give the awards to boston cream, glazed old fashioned and the most classic in all the land: the glazed donut. I’m talking about those light, golden rings of ambiguously glazed perfection.
Frying donuts (or anything else for that matter) is all about proper preparation. Have everything you need ready to go before oil starts getting hot. Below is my general setup. I have a deep, wide stock pot with 3-4in. of oil, a thermometer to monitor the oil temperature, a timer for frying times, a sheet pan (which you could line with paper towel if you wanted) a cooling rack over the sheet pan, and two forks, which I like to use to flip and remove donuts.
Once you’ve got your kit together, you’re ready to make the donuts. But you want to make good donuts, right? The two main challenges in coming correct with glazed donuts is the proper rise and proof of the dough, and maintaining oil temperature during frying. Let’s take a look at each.
Proofing your dough properly is the most crucial step in achieving that light, airy texture of a great glazed donut. Most of this skill is developed through practice, and unfortunately there’s no substitute for what you learn by getting things not quite right a bunch of times. However, having an efficient proofing box will help give you an edge in getting the proof down.
I have always preferred to use my oven as a proof box. They are solely intended to create and moderate heat and built to retain that heat, both of which you need in a good proof box. Plus they are usually fairly large chambers that can hold a lot of product and in most cases sheet pans. The only thing missing in an oven is a source of humidity, but for that I simply add a baking pan of steaming water on the bottom rack of the oven when I put my product in. Depending on the proof time you may need to replace that water once or twice, but overall it does a damn good job. I use a probe thermometer to keep track of the heat inside and adjust as needed. If you really want to get nuts, buy a hygrometer to monitor the humidity level.
You can buy a home-use proof box, but I think these are, for the most part, a rip off if for no other reasons than that they are almost always comically small, take up counter space to use, and don’t do an amazing job monitoring and creating heat and humidity. If you own one, live your truth and use it! Even better, if you have one and love it write to me and tell me why! But if you don’t have one, I wouldn’t get one unless you have an especially wonky oven.
Oil temperature is a fickle b*tch. Unfortunately, it’s also really, really important if you want a properly cooked donut. If the temperature is too low, it will soak into the outer layer of the donut. Anytime you take a bite of a donut and see a grease ring around the edge of the donut, it’s because of low oil temp. If the temperature is too high, the outside of the donut will cook and brown too quickly, not letting the center cook and you’ll be left with a burnt crust and a gooey center.
Don’t lose hope, there’s stuff you can do to improve your odds. Make sure you use a pot that transfers and retains heat well. Deep-frying something with a large quantity of oil is not the time for a cheap pot. Second, have a good probe thermometer so you can constantly monitor temp. Last, just don’t add too much product to the pot at a time. There’s a tremendous temperature drop that occurs when you put food into a pot of hot oil, and if you add too many items too quickly, the oil won’t have time to recover that temperature loss before the product is ruined.
type of oil
Most basically, you need an oil that has a smoke point above 400F/204C, since the best frying takes place between 350-400F/177-204C. Other than that, there’s flavor to consider (we’re making donuts, so the health benefits of the oil we’re frying in seem a little trivial). Personally, I prefer to fry with peanut oil. If you don’t have or can’t get a peanut oil you like at your grocery store, try this or this.
Yes, you can reuse your fry oil. How often depends on what you’re frying but you should dispose of the oil if it takes on a strong odor, looks cloudy or foams or starts to smoke below its usual smoke point. When storing the oil, keep it out of humidity and sunlight (the UV rays will break a film of sulfur ions surrounding the fat globules creating the aroma and flavor of rancidity).
375g powdered sugar
Simply mix the ingredients together with a whisk until smooth and reserve it to use later.
365g whole milk
15g dry yeast
100g whole eggs
652g all-purpose flour
Melt the shortening and temper it into the whole milk until lukewarm.
Warm the water to 95F/35C and combine it with the yeast, letting it stand for 5min.
Combine the yeast mixture and the milk mixture.
Combine the whole eggs, sugar and salt.
Add the liquid ingredients and the flour along with the yeast mixture in a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Mix on low speed for 3-4min. until the dough combines.
Mix the dough on medium speed for 5-8min. until the gluten has begun to develop. You’re looking for the dough to begin to pull from the sides of the bowl and develop a glossy sheen. The dough will have tension and stretch, but will tear easily with a strong pull.
Cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap and proof it for 1hr or until doubled in size.
Pull the dough from a mixing bowl with a dough scraper onto a sheet pan lined with floured parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.
Lightly spray the dough with non-stick spray and cover the dough lightly in plastic wrap.
Chill the dough in the freezer for 45min-1hr. At this point you can keep the dough frozen until you want to make your donuts, letting it defrost before moving on to the next step.
While the dough is freezing, I prepare individual squares of parchment paper to place the donuts on. The donut dough can be very sticky, so having individual squares of parchment to place them on makes the process of handling them and frying them much easier.
While the dough is frozen, remove the plastic wrap and peel it from the parchment paper or non-stick mat. Flour the dough well and let it warm up slightly in the refrigerator until it is soft enough to roll but still firm and well chilled.
Roll the dough to ½” thick.
Cut the dough using a set of ring cutters. I used 90mm and 40mm cutters. And save those donut holes!
Place the dough on individually cut squares of parchment paper that have been lightly floured with non-stick baking spray.
Proof the donuts at room tmep. for 20-30min. While the donuts are proofing, heat the fry oil in a large stock pot to 370F/188C.
Gently transfer the donuts to the cooking oil by inverting them down into the oil and removing the parchment paper while doing so. Instinct will tell you to drop the donuts into the oil to keep your hands from the surface, but DON’T DROP THE DONUTS INTO THE OIL! They will splash oil up which could end up in bad burns. Instead, carefully lay the donuts into the oil, center first.
Cook the donuts for 1min. per side, flipping them over gently with the forks.
Transfer the donuts to a cooling rack to cool for 1-2min. before glazing or coating in powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.
I fry the donut holes in the same manner, letting them cool for a minute or two before tossing them in cinnamon sugar.
To glaze the donuts, you can dip them or enrobe (coat) them. I enrobe the donuts if I’m using a thinner glaze. For thick glaze like the kind we’re using today, I dip.