AskDefine | Define doughnuts

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  1. Plural of doughnut

Extensive Definition

A doughnut, or donut, is a sweet, deep-fried piece of dough or batter. The two most common types are the torus-shaped ring doughnut and the filled doughnut, a flattened sphere injected with jam, jelly, cream, custard, or another sweet filling. A small spherical piece of dough, originally made from the middle of a ring doughnut, may be cooked as a doughnut hole. A doughnut also looks similar to a bagel, which uses the same shape as a ring donut.


Ring doughnuts are formed either by joining the ends of a long, skinny piece of dough into a ring or by using a doughnut cutter, which simultaneously cuts the outside and inside shape, leaving a doughnut-shaped piece of dough and a doughnut hole from dough removed from the center. This smaller piece of dough can be cooked or re-added to the batch to make more doughnuts. A disk-shaped doughnut can also be stretched and pinched into a torus until the center breaks to form a hole. Alternatively, a doughnut depositor can be used to place a circle of liquid dough directly into the fryer. Doughnuts can be made from a yeast-based dough for raised doughnuts or a special type of cake batter. Yeast-raised doughnuts contain about 25% oil by weight, whereas cake doughnuts' oil content is around 20%, but they have extra fat included in the batter before frying. Cake doughnuts are fried for about 90 seconds at approximately 190°C to 198°C, turning once. Yeast-raised doughnuts absorb more oil because they take longer to fry, about 150 seconds, at 182°C to 190°C. Cake doughnuts typically weigh between 24 g and 28 g, whereas yeast-raised doughnuts average 38g and are generally larger when finished.
After being fried, ring doughnuts are often topped with a glaze (icing) or a powder such as cinnamon or sugar. Styles such as fritters and jelly doughnuts may be glazed and/or injected with jam or custard.
As well as being fried, doughnuts can be completely baked in an oven, and these varieties have appeared in some stores over the last few years. These have a slightly different texture to the fried variety with a somewhat different taste due to the lack of absorbed oil—and so have a lower fat content.
The traditional mass-produced fried yeast-based doughnut production process (such as used by Krispy Kreme) uses a partial baking (proofing) of the dough before frying (~20 minutes/125°F), but it is not classed as a baked doughnut.
There are many other specialized doughnut shapes such as bear claws, old-fashioneds, bars or Long Johns (a rectangular shape), and the dough twisted around itself before cooking. In the northeast USA, bars and twists are usually referred to as crullers. Doughnut holes are small spheres that are made from the dough taken from the center of ring doughnuts or made to look as if they are. These holes are also known by brand names, such as Dunkin Donuts' Munchkins and Tim Hortons' Timbits.


Possible origins

Doughnuts have a disputed history. One theory suggests that they were introduced into North America by Dutch settlers, who were responsible for popularizing other American desserts, including cookies, cream pie, and cobbler. This theory is bolstered by the fact that in the mid-19th Century doughnuts were called by the Dutch olykoeks ("oily cakes"). However, there is also archaeological evidence that the pastries were prepared by prehistoric Native Americans in southwestern USA. Hansen Gregory, an American, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was only sixteen years old. Gregory was dissatisfied with the greasiness of doughnuts twisted into various shapes and with the raw center of regular doughnuts. He claimed to have punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship's tin pepper box and later taught the technique to his mother.
In Laura Ingalls Wilder's book Farmer Boy , Almanzo's mother makes doughnuts, both braided and ring-shaped, and the round ones are referred to as "new-fangled". It is noted that the braided ones will turn over by themselves while cooking, whereas the ring-shaped ones require that you turn them over.


Before the ring shape became common, doughnuts were often made as twisted ropes of dough. In the UK, doughnuts were always made into a ball. When cooked, they were injected with jam or jelly and always rolled in granulated sugar. This method is still in practice, but ring doughnuts are also now widely available. When placed into a pot of boiling fat, they floated until the lower half was cooked and then rolled themselves over to cook the other side. Ring doughnuts have to be flipped over by hand, which was more time-consuming. The twisted-rope type is called a cruller in some parts of the U.S., but cruller also refers to a particularly airy type of ring doughnut, usually glazed.


The earliest known recorded usage of the term dates an 1808 short story describing a spread of "fire-cakes and dough-nuts." Washington Irving's reference to "doughnuts" in 1809 in his History of New York is more commonly cited as the first written recording of the term. Irving described "balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks." These "nuts" of fried dough might now be called doughnut holes. Doughnut is the more traditional spelling, and still dominates outside the US. At present, doughnut and the shortened form donut are both pervasive in American English. The first known printed use of donut was in a Los Angeles Times article dated August 10, 1929. There, Bailey Millard jokingly complains about the decline of spelling, and that he "can't swallow the 'wel-dun donut' nor the ever so 'gud bred'." The interchangeability of the two spellings can be found in a series of "National Donut Week" articles in The New York Times that covered the 1939 World's Fair. In four articles beginning October 9, two mention the donut spelling. Dunkin' Donuts, which was founded in 1948 under the name Open Kettle (Quincy, Massachusetts), is the oldest surviving company to use the donut variation, but the now defunct Mayflower Donut Corporation appears to be the first company to use that spelling, having done so prior to World War II.

Regional variations


In Argentina, the local equivalent to doughnuts are facturas, a popular baked doughnut-like pastry of German origin. Facturas are consumed massively and can be found in every corner bakery. However, doughnuts are starting to gain popularity, probably because of American influence through television series and films. They can be found in some bakeries and hypermarkets like the American Wal-Mart or Chilean Jumbo.


In Australia, not only do they have the traditional doughnuts, they're also famous for their own jam doughnuts. These doughnuts are sweet buns that have a filling inside. Other fillings inside these doughnuts include custard.


In Austria there is no real market for American-style donuts. Not a single nationwide donut chain exists; the only store making itself quite famous selling donuts is the Viennese store Batriks Donuts.
The Austrian doughnut equivalents are called Krapfen. They are especially popular during Carneval season (Fasching) and do not have the typical ring shape but instead are solid and usually filled with apricot jam (traditional) or vanilla cream (Vanillekrapfen).


In Belgium, the smoutebollen are similar to the Dutch kind of oliebollen, but they usually do not contain any fruit, except for apple chunks sometimes. They are typical carnival and fair snacks and are eaten with powdered sugar on them.


In Canada, the doughnut follows the same design as in the United States. Several stores including Tim Hortons, as well as some U.S. chains such as Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme, make the majority of their profits by selling donuts. Another Canadian variant is the Beaver tail (known as an "elephant ear" in many other countries).
Per capita, Canadians consume the most doughnuts in the world, and Canada also has the most doughnut stores per capita. Many humorous Canadian stereotypes, such as the Bob and Doug McKenzie characters, include doughnuts (as well as stubby beer bottles, tuque hats, maple syrup, and back bacon) as part of their lore.


Chinese cuisine features long deep-fried doughnut sticks that are often quite oily, hence their name in Mandarin, yóutiáo (油條, lit. oil strips); in Cantonese, this doughnut-style pastry is called yàuhjagwái (油炸鬼). These pastries are not sweet and are often served with congee, a traditional rice porridge.
There are a few sweet doughtnut-style pastries that are more regional in nature. Cantonese cuisine features an oval shaped pastry called ngàuhleisōu (牛脷酥, lit. "Ox-tongue pastry" due to its tongue-like shape). In Taiwan, there is shuāngbāotāi (雙胞胎, lit. twins).
Chinese restaurants in the US sometimes serve small fried pastries similar to doughnut holes.

Croatia and Serbia

Doughnuts similar to the Berliner are also prepared in the Northern Balkans, particularly in Croatia (pokladnice or krafne) and Serbia's Vojvodina province. They are called krofna or krafna, a name derived from a German word for this pastry. This type of doughnut is popular in Chile because of the large German community there and is called a Berlin (plural Berlines). It may be filled with jam or with manjar, the Chilean version of dulce de leche.


In Denmark, doughnuts do also exist in their "American" shape, and these can be obtained from various stores, e.g. McDonald's and most gas stations. The Berliner, however, is also broadly available in bakeries across the country.


In France and in New Orleans, Louisiana, there exists a fried pastry called a beignet, which is sometimes described as a French doughnut.


In Germany, the doughnut equivalents are called Berliner (sg. and pl.), except in the city of Berlin and some other German areas, where they are called Pfannkuchen. In middle Germany, they are called Kreppel. In southern Germany, they are also called Krapfen and are especially popular during Carneval season (Karneval/Fasching) in southern and middle Germany and on New Year's Eve in northern Germany. Berliner do not have the typical ring shape but instead are solid and usually filled with jam. Bismarcks and Berlin doughnuts are also found in the U.S., Canada, Finland, and Denmark. Today, American style doughnuts are also available in Germany but are less popular then their native couterparts.


In Greece, there is a doughnut-like snack, called loukoumas (λουκουμάς), which comes in two types (one is shaped like the number 8; the other is torus shaped like the number 0), from which the first one is crispier, whereas the second one is larger and softer.


In Iceland kleinuhringur (pl. kleinuhringir and kleinuhringar) are a type of old Icelandic cuisine which resembles doughnuts.


Some savory, fried items not based on wheat-flour pastry are referred to as doughnuts, such as the ring-shaped Indian vadas, made of lentils. Indian vadas are food of masses. In north India, vadas are soaked in curd, sprinkled with spices, topped with sweet/sour chutney and then eaten. In south India vadas are eaten with sambar. Also, there is a doughnut like sweet made in India called "badushah". This is made like an old-fashioned doughnut by frying the dough in oil and then soaking it in sugar syrup, and sometimes flavored with spices.


Donat Kentang is known as an Indonesian style potato doughnut; a fritter that comes in ring shape and is made from combination of flour and mashed potatoes, coated in powder sugar or icing sugar.


Persians are known for their zooloobiya, a fritter that comes in various shapes and sizes and coated in a sticky-sweet syrup.


Jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyah (סופגניה, pl. Sufganyot סופגניות) in Israel, have become a traditional Hanukkah food in the recent era, as they are cooked in oil, associated with the holiday account of the miracle of the oil. Traditional sufganyot are filled with red jelly and topped with icing sugar. However, many other varieties exist, with the more expensive ones being filled with dulce de leche.


Italian doughnuts are called ciambelle, krafen, zeppoli or bomboloni.


Mister Donut is one of the most popular doughnut chains in Japan. Native to Okinawa is a spheroid pastry similar to doughnuts called sata andagi.


In Lithuania, a kind of doughnut called spurgos is widely known. Sometimes spurgos are similar to Polish doughnuts, but some specific recipes, such as cottage cheese doughnuts (varškės spurgos), have also been invented.


The Mexican donas are very similar to donuts including in the name; the dona is a fried-dough pastry-based snack, commonly covered with powdered brown sugar and cinnamon, white sugar or chocolate.


In the Netherlands, the Oliebollen, referred to in cookbooks as "Dutch Doughnuts", is a type of fritter containing pieces of apple and/or dried fruit like raisins; they are traditionally eaten as part of New Year celebrations.


In Poland and parts of the U.S. with a large Polish community, like Chicago and Detroit, the round, jam-filled doughnuts eaten especially—though not exclusively—during the Carnival are called pączki (). Russian "пончики", ponchiki, and Ukrainian "пампушки", pampushky, are the equivalent designations for pączki, but are usually not filled with jam. Romanian gogoşi are similar to the Polish pączki. Pączki have been known in Poland at least since the Middle Ages. Jędrzej Kitowicz has described that during the reign of the August III under influence of French cooks who came to Poland at that time, pączki dough baked in Poland has been improved, so that pączki became lighter, spongier, and more resilient (see pączki in Polish Wikipedia).

South Africa

In South Africa, a variation known as the koeksuster is popular.

South Korea

Many bakeries in South Korea offer doughnuts either filled with or made entirely from the Korean traditional rice dessert tteok. These come in a variety of different colors, though they are normally in green, pink, or white. They are often filled with a sweet red bean paste or sesame seeds.

United Kingdom

In some parts of Scotland, ring doughnuts are referred to as doughrings, with the doughnut moniker being reserved exclusively for the nut-shaped variety. Glazed, twisted rope-shaped doughnuts are known as yum-yums. It is also possible to buy fudge doughnuts in certain regions of Scotland. In some parts of Northern Ireland, ring doughnuts are referred to as "gravy rings" due to their being cooked in oil, itself colloquially known as "gravy".

United States

A popular doughnut in Hawaii is the Malasada. Malasadas were brought to the Hawaiian Islands by early Portuguese settlers and are a variation on Portugal's filhós. They are small eggy balls of yeast dough deep fried and coated in sugar.
To celebrate Fat Tuesday in southeastern Pennsylvania, churches sell a potato-starch doughnut called a Fastnacht (or Fasnacht). The treats are so popular there that Fat Tuesday is often called Fastnacht Day.
The Polish doughnut, the pączki, is popular in U.S. cities with large Polish communities such as Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit.

Doughnuts and topology

Doughnuts, as ring-shaped items, are an important explanatory tool in the science of topology where the ring doughnut shape (a ring with a circular cross-section) is called a torus or toroid, and an example of using the ring doughnut as an illustrative term can be found in popular explanations of the Poincaré conjecture. The other toroidal food item used in topological explanations is the bagel. However, the bagel has a hole to allow it to be retrieved from boiling water, while a doughnut hole is intended to allow the doughnut to cook faster and more thoroughly. There is no historical connection between bagels and doughnuts.


  • Mistakes That Worked - Origins of the doughnut hole
  • Rosana G Moreira et al, Deep Fat Frying: Fundamentals and Applications. ISBN 0-8342-1321-4
  • Donuts: An American Passion
doughnuts in Danish: Donut
doughnuts in German: Donut
doughnuts in Esperanto: Benjeto
doughnuts in Spanish: Donut
doughnuts in Finnish: Munkki (leivonnainen)
doughnuts in French: Donut
doughnuts in Hebrew: דונאט
doughnuts in Icelandic: Kleinuhringur
doughnuts in Japanese: ドーナツ
doughnuts in Korean: 도넛
doughnuts in Malay (macrolanguage): Donut
doughnuts in Dutch: Donut
doughnuts in Norwegian: Smultring
doughnuts in Polish: Pączek
doughnuts in Portuguese: Donut
doughnuts in Russian: Пончик
doughnuts in Simple English: Doughnut
doughnuts in Serbian: Крофна
doughnuts in Swedish: Munk (bakverk)
doughnuts in Yiddish: דאנאט
doughnuts in Chinese: 甜甜圈
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