Of all the things that I cook in my kitchen, doughs and pastries are by far my favourite to work with. There is something so soothing about working with simple ingredients: butter, flour, eggs and yeast. Of course, there is also the magical transformation of those ingredients to a delicious treat like Cinnamon Sugar Donuts!
Who doesn’t like donuts?
Whether you call them donuts or doughnuts, we can all agree that there is something quite wonderful about this humble doughy treat. Just the waft of hot oil and cinnamon sugar is guaranteed to make most mouths water.
Donuts are easy to make at home!
Despite what many people think, donuts are actually easy (and cheap) to make at home! If you’ve been following my blog for a while you’ll know how evangelical I am about cooking at home. The big brands that sell donuts make an absolute fortune because they put such a huge markup on them.
But isn’t frying donuts dangerous and scary?
Not at all! Sure, it is important to be careful around anything hot in the kitchen, but once you’ve tried frying and seen how easy it is, you’ll never look back. Some common sense in the kitchen and a little bravery and you can whip up these delicious treats in the course of a morning. The actual hands on time is very little as the kitchen machine does most of the work.
Aren’t donuts baked?
There are loads of recipes online for baked donuts, but frankly I think these should be renamed ‘faux-nuts’ as while they are delicious, they have nothing to do with the original.
Speaking of originals, where do donuts come from? Are they American?
As with any classic recipe, there are loads of stories about their origin. Almost certainly, donuts as we know them today are based on a Dutch treat known as oliekoek or ‘oily cakes’, a recipe Dutch settlers brought with them to New York. Here in southern Germany we love our Carnival Donuts or Krapfen at this time of year.
If I don’t have a kitchen machine, can I make Cinnamon Sugar Donuts by hand?
Of course, you can make this dough by hand, if you’re prepared to use a little good old fashioned elbow grease. Those settlers didn’t have machines either! The dough is a little wet to start with so you’ll have to use a wooden spoon and a big bowl, and keep on stirring until the dough comes together – great for an impromptu arm workout!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I make Cinnamon Spiced Donuts in advance?
You can also make this dough in the evening before, allowing it to rise overnight in the fridge. Then just get it out about half an hour before you want to cook, to allow it to warm up a little.
The dough is really sticky! Is that right?
Try not to be tempted to add extra flour to the dough to make it easier to handle (unless it is really bubble gum sticky when you come to make the rolls) this is a wet dough to work with but the light and fluffy result is worth it!
I want to make more that eight donuts. Can I double the recipe?
Yes! Double everything except the yeast.
How long do Cinnamon Sugar Donuts keep?
I find they are best on the day they are made, but they’ll keep at room temperature overnight. You may find you need to dip them in a bit more cinnamon sugar the next morning (I’m not complaining!)
This recipe looks long – is it complicated?
Not at all. I’ve just gone into lots of details so you can be confident that your donuts will turn out perfectly!
for the dough:
- 100 ml full fat milk
- 21g fresh yeast or 7 g / 2 tsp instant dried yeast
- 250 plain flour, divided 175g / 75g
- 25g sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla sugar
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- 25 g butter, softened
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 litre (.qt) vegetable oil, or 1kg shortening, for frying
for the topping:
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
- pinch of ground nutmeg
- PREPARE THE YEAST: Heat the milk in a small saucepan until just warm (but not hot!) when you dip your little finger into it. Remove from the heat, then stir in the yeast. Set aside.
- MAKE THE DOUGH: In the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook fitted (see note 1) combine 175g flour, sugar, vanilla and salt. While mixing, add the butter and egg yolk, then give the milk and yeast mixture a stir and pour it into the bowl. Run the mixer on high until the ingredients are combined, then with the mixer on low add the remaining flour. Knead for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes the dough should be moving freely around the bowl of the mixer, and only lightly sticky. If it is still a little liquid or sticking to the sides of the bowl add one tablespoon of flour and knead for another minute.
- LET THE DOUGH RISE: When the dough has finished kneading, shape it into a ball - it should feel soft, springy and elastic. Place it back in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth or some clingfilm and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
- DIVIDE THE DOUGH: When the dough has risen, turn it out onto the bench top. Flatten out the air and divide into eight. I find it useful to weigh the dough so that my pieces are as even as possible.
- SHAPE AND SECOND RISE: Roll each into a tight ball, place on a lightly floured tray, then cover again and allow to rise for another 20 minutes.
- PREPARE TO COOK: Meanwhile fill a large, heavy-based saucepan (enamelled cast iron is ideal) with the oil or shortening, line a plate with paper towel and stir together the topping sugar and spices on a small plate.
- HEAT THE OIL: When the dough has risen again, heat the oil to 160°C /320°F. (See notes) Gently take one of the balls of dough, pinch a hole in the middle with your index finger and thumb, and gently stretch the hole in the middle to about 5cm in diameter.
- COOK: Carefully lower into the hot oil, then repeat until the pan is full but not crowded - I cook five or six at a time. Cook the donuts until golden brown on the underside, around 1 minute.
- TURN THE DONUTS: Turn carefully using a slotted spoon and cook until golden brown on the other side, then lift out to the paper towel lined plate to drain, before pressing the donuts into the sugar and spice mixture while still warm.
- SERVE: Repeat with the remaining dough, until finished, keeping an eye on the temperature of the oil. Serve warm.
If you don't have a thermometer, heat until the end of a wooden spoon forms fine bubbles when dipped into the oil. If it bubbles vigorously, it is too hot. Try to keep the oil at an even temperature while cooking.
- recipe originally published January 2018. Updates with new method, photos and text.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 donut
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 126Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 102mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 3g
Nutrition information is calculated automatically and isn’t always accurate.