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How to Make Yeasted Doughnuts

Why this recipe works The yeasted doughnuts found in chain shops look more impressive than they taste; once you get past the sugary coating, the flavor of the crumb is flat and stale. We set out to develop the ultimate yeasted doughnut that we could enjoy fresh from the fryer at home. What we wanted was a lightly sweetened doughnut that was tender on the inside and lightly crisp on the outside. Yeasted doughnuts are simply enriched bread dough that’s rolled and cut into circles and fried. When we compared versions made using bread flour and all-purpose, we found that bread flour made the doughnut too dense and chewy, almost like a deep-fried bagel. All-purpose flour yielded a doughnut with a lighter interior. Because we wanted the doughnut’s flavor to complement coatings and glazes, we didn’t make the dough too sweet. But there was another reason for our light hand with the sugar: burning. Too much sugar could cause the doughnuts to brown too quickly in the hot oil. Likewise, too much butter would result in an overly rich, greasy doughnut, so we kept the butter amount to under a stick. If you don’t have a doughnut cutter, you cutter (about 2½ inches) for the doughnuts, and a smaller one (about 1¼ inches) for the holes. We do not recommend mixing this dough by hand. Use a Dutch oven that holds 6 quarts or more for this recipe. The doughnuts are best eaten the day they are made.

  • makes 16 doughnuts and doughnut holes
  • rising time 2½ to 3 hours
  • cooking time 6 minutes
  • total time 3¾ to 4¼ hours
  • key equipment stand mixer, 2 rimmed baking sheets, rolling pin, doughnut cutter, Dutch oven, instant-read thermometer

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  • 3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup (5⅓ ounces) whole milk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons (2⅔ ounces) sugar, plus 1 cup for rolling
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 quarts vegetable oil

1). Whisk flour, yeast, and salt together in bowl of stand mixer. Whisk milk, eggs, and 6 tablespoons sugar in 4-cup liquid measuring cup until sugar has dissolved. Using dough hook on low speed, slowly add milk mixture to flour mixture and mix until cohesive dough starts to form and no dry flour remains, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed.

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2). Increase speed to medium-low, add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, and knead until butter is fully incorporated, about 3 minutes. Continue to knead until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl but sticks to bottom, about 8 minutes.

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3). Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until nearly doubled in size, 2 to 2½ hours. (Unrisen dough can be refrigerated for at least 8 hours or up to 16 hours; let sit at room temperature for 1 hour before rolling in step 4.)

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4). Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Line second sheet with parchment paper and dust lightly with flour. Press down on dough to deflate, then transfer to lightly floured counter. Press and roll dough into 12-inch round, about ½ inch thick.

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5). Cut dough using 2½- or 3-inch doughnut cutter, gathering scraps and rerolling them as needed. Place doughnut rings and holes on floured sheet, cover loosely with greased plastic, and let rise until puffy, 30 to 45 minutes.

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6). Add oil to large Dutch oven until it measures about 1½ inches deep and heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. Working in batches of 4 dough holes and 4 dough rings at a time, fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds per side for holes and 45 to 60 seconds per side for doughnuts.

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7). Using wire skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts and doughnut holes to prepared wire rack.

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8). Spread remaining sugar in shallow dish. Let doughnuts and doughnut holes cool for 10 minutes, then roll in sugar to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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variations

yeasted cinnamon-sugar doughnuts

Combine 1 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon before rolling doughnuts and doughnut holes in step 8.

yeasted vanilla-glazed doughnuts

Omit 1 cup sugar for rolling. While doughnuts are cooling, whisk ½ cup half-and-half, 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in medium bowl until combined. When doughnuts have cooled, dip 1 side of each doughnut into glaze, let excess drip off, and transfer to wire rack. Let glaze set, about 15 minutes, before serving.

yeasted chocolate-glazed doughnuts

Omit 1 cup sugar for rolling. While doughnuts are cooling, place 4 ounces finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate in small bowl. Add ½ cup hot half-and-half and whisk together to melt chocolate. Add 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, and whisk until no lumps remain. When doughnuts have cooled, dip 1 side of each doughnut into glaze, let excess drip off, and transfer to wire rack. Let glaze set, about 15 minutes, before serving.

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