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Yeast Doughnuts

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Recipe adopted from Alton Brown.  [Recipe yields roughly 24 doughnuts, depending on size].

The past few months at work, I've been wanting to make doughnuts (one of the luxuries of working in a kitchen), but something's always come up.  Well a few days ago, I finally had the perfect opportunity, so I took it.  I pulled out a recipe that I last made years ago, and timed everything out so that we could have fresh doughnuts ready for the entire staff before the dinner rush started.  [Side note:  The positive reviews are making me want to incorporate homemade doughnuts into a dessert competition I'm doing next month.  Stay tuned! ].

I've tried out (and posted) several different recipes before, but I can now say with 100% confidence that this will forever be my favorite recipe for yeast doughnuts.  Others just *donut* compare (sorry) when it comes to the lightness that these babies have.  I meant to make a chocolate glaze too, but didn't have the patience.  And honestly I might even prefer them as pictured - with a simple cinnamon sugar dusting.

Now I realize that frying at home isn't the most enjoyable thing to do, especially since the oil you use usually turns into a one-time use, but the results are so worth it once and a while.  Plus, as I state with all baked goods, these freeze beautifully.  Just throw them in the microwave for a few seconds and they'll come right back to life.


1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces (~1/3 cup) vegetable shortening
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) instant yeast
1/3 cup water, warmed

2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
23 ounces (~5 cups minus 2 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

Oil (peanut, canola, or similar) for frying


Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot enough to melt the shortening.  Add the shortening to the pan, remove from the heat, and reserve.

In a small bowl, add the warm water and yeast.  Once the yeast foams (roughly 5 minutes), add the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer.  Once the milk mixture has cooled down (110° F or lower), add to the bowl, followed by the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour.  Beat the mixture on low using the paddle attachment.  Once the flour is mixed in, add the remaining flour and mix until combined.  Switch over to the hook attachment and kneed on medium until the bowl starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, roughly 4 minutes.  Transfer the dough to a greased bowl, spray the top of the dough with a non-stick spray, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rise for an hour, or until it doubles in size.

Once the dough is almost ready, begin preheating your oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  [Side note:  We're aiming for a final oil temperature of 365° F].

Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and roll to a thickness of 3/8-inch.  Use rings of your choosing to cut out the doughnuts and doughnut holes.  Transfer the doughnuts to a floured baking sheet.  [Side note:  Although you have to be gentle, you can use any dough scraps and re-kneed for additional doughnuts].  Let the doughnuts rise for an additional 30 minutes.

Once the 30 minutes are up, double-check that the oil is at 365° F.  [Side note:  It's important that the oil is at the correct temperature as oil that is too cool will cause your doughnuts to soak in grease, and oil that is too hot will burn the outsides before cooking the dough inside].  Once ready, transfer the doughnuts to the oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.  Cook for up to 1 minute on each side, or until a nice golden brown color is achieved.  Remove from the oil with a spider or metal slotted spoon, and transfer to a cooling rack lined with paper towels.  If you are coating them in a cinnamon-sugar mixture, this can be done as soon as they're cool enough to touch.  If you are planning on icing them, wait a good 30 minutes before you start.

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  1. These look so pillowy and soft and beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, I'm drooling all over, but it's worth it!

  2. These look great. What do you think about making donut holes out of this recipe? (Easier for frying at home, in my opinion, or call me lazy).

    1. Vicky - doughnut holes would be a great twist. I've done the standard rings, small squares like beignets, long johns, and holes with this recipe. The only "hard" thing about doughnut holes is flipping them in the oil, since the first fried side always wants to be on the bottom. You almost have to keep them completely submerged to fry the top side.

    2. Can I use butter instead of shortening? It is hard to find where I live.

    3. Hi Maya! Although I haven't tried it myself, it seems perfectly fine to sub out for butter, according to what I've read online. I even saw someone comment that they did it for this specific recipe (Alton Brown's) and they were great. Enjoy!

  3. Will it taste different if I use normal table salt instead of kosher salt?

    1. If you use table salt, you'd have to use a smaller amount, since the granules are smaller. I prefer kosher salt in all of my cooking and baking for the taste, texture, and ability to dissolve easier. So I'd recommend kosher for those reasons, but you can use normal table salt; just change the amount :)