Brian Cressall insatiable appetite, unending curiosity

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I've tried making donuts (or doughnuts?) before, but never really loved them. They were missing that light, fluffy taste when you bit into them. And the glaze was also tricky. Sure, they weren't bad and the fact that you could eat such a freshly-made donut partially made up for its obvious shortcomings.

This last week I made some donuts out of some spare dough from making scones (fried bread version). After my wife and I tasted the donuts, we wanted to find some others to try them. We thought the donuts were pretty good, and our victims... I mean friends... seemed to like them. There were some problems to fix, but they looked pretty good.

Then the next day I took the leftovers to work. I knew I could get some brutally honest feedback from my co-workers. To my dismay, the donuts didn't look good anymore. In fact, they looked a little soggy. Thanks to some collaboration and a little problem solving, I knew what needed to change. Here are the conclusions I came to after comparing my donuts to Krispy Kreme donuts:
  1. Donut dough has to be airy. If not, then it's just a roll with a hole. To accomplish a lighter, softer donut I needed a softer ingredient. I remembered a Food Network show on Spudnuts which have a significant amount of potato flour. I increased my potato ingredient to accomodate this. Also, when mixing the dough, I mixed it for a relatively short time. I wasn't anxious in chewy bread, so I kept the mixing/kneading time to a minimum. I also added more yeast in an attempt to ensure that the dough wasn't going to be low on lifting power.
  2. Size matters. My original donuts were way too big. They looked awesome, but it also required longer cooking to ensure that the entire dough was cooked. I switched to a smaller donut that could be managed better.
  3. Icing has to be hot and thicken when it hits room temperature. My donuts were soggy because I had diluted my icing enough to spread on the donut, but then the icing was so runny that the donut absorbed it. To remedy this, I created a thicker icing and kept it warm in a double-broiler. I had a glass pan in a metal pot with water. I would keep the icing stirred with a metal whisk. If it ever got thick enough that it was not easy to apply to the donuts, i would add a small bit of water. The icing had to be hot in that pan. When I dipped the donut in the icing, it had to run off and then set up quickly. Having a "crusty" icing solves the soggy donut problem.
So enough analyzing, let's get on with the recipe! I'm sure it could be improved, so if you do improve the recipe I would love to know what you change through a comment on this post.

Doughnut Ingredients:
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 8 cups flour
Icing Ingredients:
  • 3 cups powered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • About 1/4 cup water

  • Since I use potato pearls (dried potatoes that just need to be hydrated to use) I combine the milk, shortening, potato pearls and corresponding water (2 cups) in a bowl. I put that in the microwave for 3 minutes. It greatly simplifies the work.
  • On the side, put the yeast with the warm water to get it activated while the hot stuff cools down.
  • Mix the eggs, sugar, salt with the milk/potatoes/shortening mixture and then add the yeast. Make sure to not add the yeast until it the rest of the mixture is warm and not hot.
  • Add the flour.
  • I mix all of this in a Bosch mixer, but any mixer will do. I think part of the secret of the dough is to not mix it too much. Overmixing can produce some great gluten strands that make your final product more chewy. Good for bread, not so great for doughnuts.
  • Optional: let raise for an hour or so until the dough has doubled in size. I'm not sure this is necessary, but it may give a fluffier doughnut. I've tried both ways with a small difference.
  • Cut into doughnuts with whatever you can find to cut circles. =) I used a plastic cup for the perimeter of the doughnut and used a small seasoning lid for the inner circle.
  • Heat up the electric skillet or deep fryer to 375. I cooked my best batch at 400, but I think they would have turned out better at a slightly lower temperature.
  • Cook doughnut for 30-60 seconds per side. The trick here is to cook it less than you think. It should be lightly browned for best results. Do some tests. If you cook it too long, you lose moisture and dry it out. You may be able to do 40-50 seconds for the first side, but then only 30 seconds for the 2nd side.
  • Icing! Mix the frosting, but keep it as thick as possible. Heat the frosting so that when you put it on the doughnut it is runny and creates a very thin layer, but cools quickly. This should make more of a shell on the top and keep it from absorbing into the donut. It also looks much better.


  1. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions. I MIGHT even try it! :-)

  2. this will be our sunday treat!! YUM!

  3. Really? Nothing new yet?

    Don't get me wrong, I don't mind drooling over that donut picture every once in awhile, but I'm looking for the next fun Brian cooking adventure! :)