Yeast Raised Donuts

February 9th, 2011 / Comments 4

Donut is one of those words that brings smiles.

coffe pot c egbert Yeast Raised DonutsThe promise of a twist of dough, a disc of dough or an iconic donut shaped piece of dough, fried and filled or dusted was tempting enough to pull twenty-five people from their cozy warm beds to an early morning meeting. Last Saturday was the second breakfast meeting at our church for slow conversations to talk about how we engage with one another and the wider community.

We arrived early to help get breakfast ready so that the meeting could begin at eight. Charles suggested that the tables be put together to form a square donut.  Perhaps it was the bowl of donut dough we had brought that had inspired the table arrangement. We covered the tables with an assortment of table cloths including a couple that had been embroidered by my Nana and then went to work on the promised donuts.

I had put the donut dough together the night before so that the yeast would have enough time to grow and make the donuts rise. Here’s how I did it:

Yeast Raised Donuts

I used a stand mixer and a dough hook to make the dough. I began by combining one package of active dry yeast, (about two and a half teaspoons), one teaspoon of sugar and two tablespoons of warm water, about 110º, in a small bowl.  When the sugar and yeast had dissolved, I covered the bowl and let it stand for about five minutes until the mixture became foamy – proof that the yeast was alive and willing to work.

I zapped one cup of whole milk in a large measuring cup for thirty seconds to warm it up and then added half a stick of unsalted butter, two large eggs and the yeast mixture. I put three and a half cups of all-purpose flour, one and a half teaspoons of kosher salt, two tablespoons of sugar and the yeast-milk mixture into the mixer bowl. After beating for about four minutes at low speed, a very soft dough had formed. I increased the mixer speed to medium and beat the dough for three more minutes.  The dough was much softer and stickier than bread dough. I used a stiff spatula to scrape the dough into a large ceramic bowl, lightly dusted the dough with flour, covered the bowl with a kitchen towel and put it into the fridge to rise over night.

In the morning, while others were putting out yogurt, dried fruits, nuts, jams, toast, tea and coffee, I began to work on the donuts. I dusted two large cutting boards with flour, divided the dough in half, dusted the dough with more flour and rolled the dough until it was about half an inch thick. Charles improvised with a two inch biscuit cutter to make discs of dough and a piece of one inch diameter copper tubing to cut the donut holes.

When Joanna, an expert on children’s literature, came into the kitchen, she showed us how Almanzo’s mother in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Farmer Boy made donuts.  Joanna rolled the dough into thin ‘snakes’, about a quarter of an inch in diameter and four inches long, folded the dough in half, twisted each strip like a corkscrew and pinched the ends together. Charles continued cutting, Joanna rolled and twisted and Kathy arranged the still raw donuts on boards and covered them with kitchen towels so that the dough could rise a second time.

After rising for twenty minutes, in the warm kitchen, the donuts were ready to be fried in three inches of canola oil in a medium sized, heavy bottomed saucepan. I clipped a deep frying thermometer on the pan and kept the oil at 350º. I fried the donuts in small batches and used a wire mesh skimmer to turn and transfer them from the hot oil onto paper towels to drain after they had cooked for about two minutes and become golden brown.

mug sm c egbert Yeast Raised Donuts

Kathy, a painter who uses color rather than quantity, had brought a bag of cinnamon sugar she had made by “combining four scoops of sugar and enough cinnamon to make it brown.”  I had combined a cup of confectioners’ sugar with a couple of teaspoons of milk to make a sugary glaze. Charles was in charge of the finishing touches and decided which topping was best for each donut.  The finished donuts, donut holes and twists were mindfully, kindly and generously passed around and around the donut shaped table and disappeared quickly. Kathy and I have decided to make a double batch for next Saturday’s meeting, the last in the series.

Yeast Raised Donuts
Recipe type: Breakfast Bread
Author: Carol Egbert
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 4 mins
Total time: 34 mins
Serves: 8
A twist of dough, deep fried, dusted with cinnamon sugar or a sugary glaze – perfection!
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons warm water, 110º F
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  1. Combine yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar and warm water in a small bowl, stir until dissolved, cover bowl, let stand for five minutes, in a warm place, until mixture becomes foamy.
  2. Zap milk for 30 seconds in microwave, add butter, eggs and yeast mixture.
  3. Put flour, salt, 2 Tablespoons sugar and yeast/milk mixture into mixer bowl. Beat for 4 minutes on low, until a soft dough has formed. Increase speed to medium and beat 3 more minutes.
  4. Transfer dough to large bowl, lightly dust dough with flour, cover bowl and put in fridge overnight. Dough will double in bulk.
  5. Tip dough out onto a floured surface and roll dough with a rolling pin to form a 1/2″ thick rectangle.
  6. Use a floured donut cutter to form donuts or form crullers by rolling dough into 1/4″ diameter rope, cutting 4″ lengths, folding each piece in half, then twisting and pinching the ends together. (Actually easier to do than to describe and its quicker than rolling and using a donut cutter.)
  7. Cover uncooked donuts and let rise until double in bulk, about 20 minutes.
  8. Fry donuts, in small batches, in vegetable oil pre-heated to 350º, two minutes on each side, until golden.
  9. Transfer donuts to paper towel to drain, then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or dip into a glaze made by combining 1 cup of confectioners sugar with enough milk to make a glaze.

The dough can be set in a warm place to rise, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour, instead of being refrigerated overnight.

A deep fat thermometer is essential for keeping the oil at the correct temperature.

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• 4 Responses to “Yeast Raised Donuts”

  • Andrea says:

    Thank you so much for this recipe! I have been looking for a good one for 2 days! God provides all things…Carol, thanks for sharing. My 2 children and I will be making these tomorrow. You can imagine 8, 13 and hubby with white frosting on their little mouths! =) God bless you and yours.

  • Mary says:

    The donuts you’ve described would, of course, warm hearts and bellies, but what I really loved is the interaction that led to their creation. How can you not fall in love with someone who’s recipe calls for 4 scoops of sugar and enough cinnamon to turn it brown? That’s my kind of gal :-). I really enjoyed this post. Have a wonderful day. Blessings…Mary

  • Drick says:

    like the idea of the twists… and like homemade yeast donuts, but I have not made any in years… one day I will make time for such things

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