Baking 101: How to deliver a tasty doughnut

Baking 101: How to deliver a tasty doughnut

Doughnut or donut, either way the fried dough is a nice confectionery dessert!

Despite most typically being consumed during breakfast, the sweet pleasure is enjoyed in many countries as a snack, not as a breakfast pastry or dessert.

Doughnuts, usually deep-fried dough, are typically either ring-shaped or without a hole and filled. Other types of batters can also be used. Various toppings and flavorings are used for different types, such as sugar, chocolate, or maple glazing. In addition to flour, doughnuts may also include such ingredients as water, leavening, eggs, milk, sugar, oil/shortening, natural flavors and/or artificial flavors.

The types of doughnuts are divided into two categories: cake and risen, requiring yeast. Doughnuts were fried in oil and originally had a very different name, olykoeks (oil cakes). Due to the outside browning and cooking faster, this left a raw center on these cakes. So the dough was stuffed in the center with items, particularly nuts, giving it the name we know of today.

Later doughnuts started having their center punched out with a cutter, eliminating the uncooked center and also creating the ever-popular doughnut hole.

Cake style donuts do best being baked. A simple technique is to use muffin tins to bake the batter. This creates a flat bottom doughnut, with only one rounded side.

Another style for a do-ahead is to pipe the doughnut batter onto cookie sheets lined with parchment. Using a pastry bag, pipe them into circles, with no center, then wrap and freeze them individually. Pull them out of the freezer and let the doughnuts come to room temperature before baking.

Yeast dough is a little more involved, from assembly to cooking to finishing. After the dough has been made, kneading to develop the gluten is very important. Once the dough has been thoroughly kneaded, roll it out and cut with round cookie cutters, or a doughnut cutter.

Since there is yeast in the dough, it will have to rise prior to being fried. Yeast dough cooks best in hot oil, as opposed to being baked. This method creates dough with many internal air pockets, making them perfect for filling.

Doughnuts can be fried or baked. When frying, the oil has to be just right as in the type of oil and the temperature. Using a vegetable oil is the best choice, since butter and margarine will burn quickly.

Heat enough oil to completely submerge the doughnuts, however do not add too many at a time or it will become too crowded for them to cook properly.

The addition of too many doughnuts will also lower the temperature, causing the oil to just be absorbed into the dough and make the doughnut soggy.

If the temperature gets too high, this will cause the outside to brown and cook faster than the center.

The final touches make this humble dough into the most amazing treat. There are endless possibilities, but applying them correctly and having the right timing is important. Glazing a doughnut while its warm is key to it absorbing the glaze. Other toppings like icings, sprinkles, and powdered sugar will dissolve or melt if put on to soon.

Doughnuts are best the day that they are made, however, they can keep for a day or two if placed into a paper bag or box. Cooled, unglazed doughnuts will last for several months if kept in the freezer.

Not exactly a quick trip to the grocery store, however worth all of your hard work, as you can make and create your own styles and make as many as you want at a time. Bake more than you think you will need, as that first bite will have you coming back for more!

Amber Clay is a resident of the Mechanicsburg area. After graduating with her degree from the Culinary Institute of America, her food path started at the Hotel Hershey and continued on with teaching.

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