Doughnut Revival

Homemade doughnuts: jelly-filled, cinnamon sugar, and a doughnut holeThe doughnut: an important food that for most of my life I have known only in its commercial form.  Other examples of such food include hot dogs, ketchup, and potato chips.

Until recently, every doughnut I had eaten was commercially produced.  On top of that, the only freshly-fried doughnuts I had eaten were the mini-donuts at the Calgary Stampede, and a few Krispy Kremes.

As you might expect, the homemade version is vastly superior, especially when consumed within ninety seconds of being removed from the oil.

What would a Button Soup post be without some mention of spelling or etymology?  For the longest time I assumed these pastries were originally called “doughnaughts,” as in naughts (zeroes) made out of dough, and that “doughnuts,” was just a corruption.  The logic is irresistible, but I’ve scoured all my culinary references, and it seems that all the earliest written records refer to “doughnuts.”  So the origin of the word eludes me.  Certainly, though, the increasingly common “donut” is a corruption.


Doughnut Varieties

Doughnuts are roughly divided into two classes.  The first is the raised doughnut, which is light, airy, and relatively large.   I’ll give you some well-known reference points.  The original glazed Krispy Kreme is a raised doughnut.  Many Tim Horton’s doughnut styles fit this category, including most of the “dips,” like maple, vanilla, and chocolate, as well as the Boston cream.  Raised doughnuts are good for stuffing with creams and jellies because the lighter dough gives way to the injected filling.  The filled doughnuts called Berliners in most of Germany, and Krapfen in Bavaria and Austria, are raised doughnuts.

The other class is the cake doughnut, which is usually richer and denser than the raised variety.  Tim Horton’s makes several kinds of cake doughnut: old fashion, sour cream glazed, double chocolate, and walnut crunch, for example.  Cake doughnuts keep longer than raised doughnuts because they have more fat.  The packaged sugared doughnuts found in convenience and grocery stores are typically cake doughnuts for that reason.

An aunt recently told me that my grandmother would occasionally make doughnuts and fry them in lard.  My father confirmed this account.  Since then I’ve had doughnuts on the brain most every day.  It’s time for a doughnut revival.

I started with a recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook.  These doughnuts walk a near perfect line between the cake and raised varieties, combining the buttery luxury I associate with cake dougnuts and the fantastic texture and flavour that results from prolonged fermentation.

A syringe full of crabapple jelly
I need 10 mL of crabapple jelly, stat.

I’ve altered the French Laundry recipe in two ways.  First, I’ve converted the unreliable American volume measurements to more consistent metric units of mass.  Second, as this dough is a good conveyance for jams and jellies, I’ve adapted the procedure to make jelly doughnuts instead of classic ring doughnuts and holes.  (The following recipe will work just fine for ring doughnuts, but the frying time would be only thirty seconds per side, instead of one minute.)

The only special tool required is a syringe.  If the nozzle of the syringe is too narrow, you might run into problems.  I had to cut mine back to increase the diameter and aid jelly flow.


Jelly Doughnuts
adapted from The French Laundry Cookbook


The Sponge:

  • 225 g water, room temperature
  • 12 g active dry yeast
  • 225 g all-purpose flour

The Dough:

  • 12 g active dry yeast
  • 90 g whole milk, room temperature
  • 500 g all-purpose flour
  • 130 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g kosher salt
  • 155 g egg yolks (about 9 large egg yolks)
  • 85 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled


  • canola oil for frying
  • granulated sugar
  • your favourite homemade jam or jelly (my favourites so far have been crabapple and rosehip)
  • icing sugar


  1. First we make the sponge.  Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the yeast and bloom for 10 minutes.  Add the flour.  Using the dough hook, mix slowly until the ingredients are thoroughly blended.  Transfer to a bowl lightly wiped with canola oil, cover with plastic wrap, and proof until the sponge has doubled in volume, 1-2 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.
  2. Now we make the dough.  Add the yeast to the milk and bloom for 10 minutes.  Combine 350 g of the flour, the sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Mix briefly on low speed to combine, then add the milk and yeast mixture, followed by the egg yolks and butter.  Mix to combine, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the proofed sponge and the remaining 150 g flour to the mixing bowl.  Continue to mix at low speed until combined.  Turn up the speed slightly and knead the dough until it has formed a ball, cleaned the sides of the bowl, and developed a uniform, smooth consistency, about 4 minutes.  If the dough seems wet, add a few more tablespoons of flour.  Cover the bowl and let the dough proof, 1-2 hours at room temperature or overnight in the fridge.
  4. Place the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface and roll it out to a 1/2″ thickness. Cut out the doughnuts using a 2″ ring mold.  Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and lightly dusted with flour.  Cover with plastic wrap lightly coated with canola oil.  At this point the doughnuts can be frozen.
  5. Proof in a warm place until the doughnuts have risen to approximately 3/4″, about 20 or 30 minutes for the fresh dough, 1 or 2 hours for the frozen dough.
  6. In a deep heavy saucepan, heat canola oil for deep-frying to 325°F.  Add a few doughnuts to the oil and cook for about 1 minute.  Flip the doughnuts and fry until cooked through and deep golden brown, roughly another minute.  Remove the doughnuts, drain briefly on paper towels, and toss in a bowl with granulated sugar.
  7. Poking the nozzle of the syringe into the side of each doughnut, inject 3 mL of jelly into the interior.  Dust profusely with icing sugar.  Consume immediately.

Crabapple jelly doughnut