The ultimate recipe for old-fashioned fried doughnuts coated with sugar and cinnamon.
When I think about my childhood, I remember things vaguely, but memories of food tend to be a bit more vivid. Sugar doughnuts were popular back when I was kid, and were a special treat my parents got me every time I was a bit down, or before a doctor appointment (I hated those). But what I mostly remember is my dad sneaking one into my bag before school, winking, and saying “just don’t tell your mom”, which is such a typical dad thing.
It’s been years since I’ve eaten a good sugar doughnut, and this recipe tastes exactly like the old-fashioned ones. They’re soft and thick and coated entirely with sugar. I added a touch of cinnamon for a more grown-up version, but for kids you can stick with just sugar. Coating them in powered sugar rather than granulated sugar is another option.
These doughnuts are small-medium, the perfect size for a sweet snack, but you can make them any size you prefer. You can also use the holes to make doughnut holes. The holes I got were quite small so I just rerolled the scraps and made more doughnuts.
When rolling the dough, roll it to no more than ½-inch thickness or the doughnuts will be very tall, looking more like cronuts. Not that that’s a bad thing though (see photo below).
The most important thing in making doughnuts is the temperature of the oil when frying them. 150c-160c (around 300F-320F) is the ideal temperature, higher than that and the crust will cook quickly while the center stays doughy and undercooked. If you don’t have a thermometer to test, insert a wooden spoon into the oil. You know it’s ready for frying when tiny bubbles appear around the stick. I admit that keeping the temperature steady is a bit of a pain, but the results are worth it.
- 3½ cups (500 g/17.5 oz.) all-purpose flour
- 6 tablespoons (75 g /2.6 oz.) granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons (7 g/0.25 0z) instant yeast
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup (240 ml) whole milk, lukewarm
- ¼ cup (1/2 stick/56 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
- 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest , optional
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon brandy or rum , optional
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons granulated sugar , for coating
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon , for coating
- 4 cups (1 liter) canola or vegetable oil, for frying
Make the dough: In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix flour, sugar, and yeast. Fit mixer with the dough hook, and add egg, milk, butter, zest, vanilla extract, and brandy to the flour mixture. Mix on low-medium speed until a soft ball of dough starts to form, about 3 minutes. Add in salt. Keep mixing for 8 minutes, until dough is soft and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Gently punch the dough to remove air. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into 1/2 –inch thickness. Cut into doughnuts using a doughnut cutter or with a 2¾-inch/7 cm round cutter and with a ¾-inch/2 cm round cutter for the holes (or use any cutter that you want or have available depending on your preferred doughnut size). Re-roll scraps and repeat. Place doughnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest to rise for about 60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Make the cinnamon sugar mixture: Place 8 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon cinnamon in a small bowl and toss to combine. Set aside.
Frying: In a large, deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 2 in/5 cm of oil until a thermometer inserted into the oil reaches 300F/150C. If you don’t have a thermometer to test, insert a wooden spoon into the oil; it’s ready for frying when tiny bubbles appear around the stick. If it bubbles vigorously, it’s too hot. Carefully add doughnuts, a few at a time, depending on how large the saucepan is. Fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain doughnuts on a paper towel-lined plate. While doughnuts are still warm, dip them in cinnamon sugar mixture and coat from all sides.
Doughnuts are best the same day they are made.