A glazed ring doughnut
|Place of origin||United States|
A doughnut or donut (pron.: /ˈdoʊnət/ or /ˈdoʊnʌt/) (see spelling differences) is a type of fried dough confectionery or dessert food. Doughnuts are popular in many countries and prepared in various forms as a sweet snack that can be homemade or purchased in bakeries, supermarkets, food stalls, and franchised specialty outlets. They are usually deep-fried from a flour dough, and shaped in rings or flattened spheres that sometimes contain fillings. Other types of batters can also be used, and various toppings and flavorings are used for different types.
The two most common types are the toroidal ring doughnut and the filled doughnut, a flattened sphere injected with fruit preserves, cream, custard, or other sweet fillings. A small spherical piece of dough may be cooked as a doughnut hole. Doughnut varieties are also divided into cake and risen type doughnuts. Other shapes include rings, balls, and flattened spheres, as well as ear shapes, twists and other forms.
Ring doughnuts are formed 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 added back 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 (batter) 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 38 g and are generally larger when finished.
There are many other specialized doughnut shapes such as old-fashioneds, bars or Long Johns (a rectangular shape), or with the dough twisted around itself before cooking. In the northeast US, 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. There are also beignets, which are square donuts topped with powdered sugar.
History of doughnuts in the US
Doughnuts have a disputed history. One theory suggests they were invented in North America by Dutch settlers, who were responsible for popularizing other American desserts, including cookies, apple and cream pie, and cobbler. Indeed, in the 19th century, doughnuts were sometimes referred to as one kind of oliekoek (a Dutch word literally meaning “oil cake”), a “sweetened cake fried in fat.”
Hanson Gregory, an American, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was only 16 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.
According to anthropologist Paul R. Mullins, the first cookbook mentioning doughnuts was an 1803 English volume which included doughnuts in an appendix of American recipes. By the mid-19th century, the doughnut looked and tasted like today’s doughnut, and was viewed as a thoroughly American food.
The earliest known recorded usage of the term dates to 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 Peck’s Bad Boy and his Pa by George W. Peck, published in 1900, in which a character is quoted as saying, “Pa said he guessed he hadn’t got much appetite, and he would just drink a cup of coffee and eat a donut.” According to John T. Edge (Donuts, an American passion 2006) the alternative spelling “donut” was invented when the New York–based Display Doughnut Machine Corporation abbreviated the word to make it more pronounceable by the foreigners they hoped would buy their automated doughnut making equipment. The donut spelling also showed up in a Los Angeles Times article dated August 10, 1929 in which 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; other chains, such as the defunct Mayflower Doughnut Corporation (1931), did not use that spelling. According to the Oxford Dictionary while “doughnut” is used internationally, the spelling “donut” is American.
Horn of Africa
In South Africa, an Afrikaans variation known as the koeksister is popular. Another variation, similar in name, is the Cape Malay koesister being soaked in a spiced syrup and coated in coconut. It has a texture similar to more traditional doughnuts as opposed to the Afrikaans variety. A further variation is the vetkoek, which is also dough deep fried in oil. It is served with mince, syrup, honey or jam.
In Tunisia, a pastry similar to doughnuts are yo-yos. They are very traditional and popular. They come in different versions both as balls and in shape of donuts.
A spherical food called saa1 jung (沙翁) which is also similar to cream puff, but denser in texture (doughnut-like texture) with sugar sprinkled on top, is normally available in Cantonese restaurants in the dim sum style. An oilier Beijing variant of this called 高力豆沙, gaoli dousha, is filled with red bean paste; originally, it was made with egg white instead of dough. Many Chinese cultures make a chewy doughnut known as shuangbaotai (雙包胎), which consists of two conjoined balls of dough.
Chinese restaurants in the US sometimes serve small fried pastries similar to doughnut holes, served with condensed milk as a sauce.
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, ghosts fried in oil). These pastries are not sweet and are often served with congee, a traditional rice porridge.
In India, a savory, fried, ring-shaped snack called a vada is often referred to as a doughnut. The vada is made from dal, lentil or potato flours rather than wheat flour. In North India, it is in the form of a bulging disc called dahi-vada, and is soaked in yogurt or curd, sprinkled with spices and sliced vegetables, and topped with a sweet and sour chutney. In South India, a vada is eaten with sambar and a coconut chutney.
Sweet pastries similar to old-fashioned doughnuts called badushahi and jalebi are also popular. Balushahi, also called badushah, is made from flour, deep fried in clarified butter, and dipped in sugar syrup. Balushahi is ring-shaped, but the hole in the center does not go all the way through. Jalebi, which is typically pretzel-shaped, is made by deep frying batter in oil and soaking it in sugar syrup. A variant of jalebi, called imarti, is shaped with a small ring in the center around which a geometric pattern is arranged.
The Persian zoolbia and bamiyeh are fritters of various shapes and sizes coated in a sugar syrup. Donuts are also made in the home in Iran, referred to as donuts, even in the singular.
Jelly doughnuts, known as sufganiyah (סופגניה, pl. sufganiyot 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 sufganiyot are filled with red jelly and topped with icing sugar. However, many other varieties exist, with some being filled with dulce de leche (particularly common after the South American aliyah early in the 21st century).
In Japan, an-doughnut (あんドーナッツ, “bean paste doughnut”) is widely available at bakeries. An-doughnut is similar to Germany’s Berliner, except it contains red azuki bean paste. 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.
Kuih keria is a hole doughnut made from boiled sweet potato that is mashed. The sweet potato mash is shaped into rings and fried. The hot doughnut is then rolled in granulated sugar. The result is a doughnut with a sugar-crusted skin.
Sel roti is a Nepali homemade, ring-shaped, rice doughnut prepared during Tihar, the widely celebrated Hindu festival in Nepal. A semiliquid dough is usually prepared by adding milk, water, sugar, butter, cardamom, and mashed banana to rice flour, which is often left to ferment for up to 24 hours. A sel roti is traditionally fried in ghee.
Doughnuts are available at most bakeries across Pakistan. The Navaz Sharif variety, available mainly in the city of Karachi, is covered in chocolate and filled with cream, similar to a Boston cream. Doughnuts can readily be found at the many Dunkin’ Donuts branches spread across Pakistan.
Local varieties of doughnuts sold by peddlers and street vendors throughout the Philippines are usually made of plain well-mead dough, deep-fried in refined coconut oil and sprinkled with refined (not powdered or confectioner’s) sugar. Donuts are a popular mid-day snack.
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.
These desserts, while the shape of doughnut holes, can in no way be considered donuts as they are not fried nor have they any similarities of origin. There are, however, newer inventions referred to as tapioca or glutenous doughnuts, which are fried. The ball-type doughnuts are usually filled with red bean and coated with sugar. Finger style glutinous doughnuts are not filled, but glazed like their American counterparts.
In Austria, 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). A second variant, called Bauernkrapfen, probably more similar to doughnuts, are made of yeast dough, and have a thick outside ring, but are very thin in the middle.
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.
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia
Doughnuts similar to the Berliner are prepared in the northern Balkans, particularly in Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (pokladnice or krofne). They are also called krofna, krafna or krafne, a name derived from the Austrian Krapfen for this pastry. In Croatia, they are especially popular during Carneval season and do not have the typical ring shape, but instead are solid. Traditionally, they are filled with jam (apricot or plum). However, they can be filled with vanilla or chocolate cream.
There are Czech Republic “American” style doughnuts, but before they were solid shape and filled with jelly (strawberry or peach). The shape is similar to doughnuts in Germany or Poland. They are called Kobliha (Koblihy in plural). They may be filed with nougat or with vanilla custard. There are now many fillings; cut in half or non-filled knots with sugar and cinnamon on top.
in Finland, a sweet doughnut is called a munkki (the word also means monk) and are commonly eaten in cafés and cafeteria restaurants. They are sold cold and are sometimes filled with jam (U.S. jelly) or a vanilla sauce. A ring doughnut is also known as donitsi.
A savory form of doughnut is the meat doughnut (in Finnish lihapiirakka, or literally meat pie). Being made of doughnut mixture and deep fried the end product is more akin to a savory doughnut than any pie known in the English speaking world.
In parts of Germany, the doughnut equivalents are called Berliner (sg. and pl.), but not in the capital city of Berlin itself and neighboring areas, where they are called Pfannkuchen (which is often found misleading by people in the rest of Germany, who use the word Pfannkuchen to describe a pancake, which is also the literal translation of it). In middle Germany, they are called Kreppel or Pfannkuchen. In southern Germany, they are also called Krapfen and are especially popular during Carnival 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, while a ring-shaped variant called Kameruner is common in Berlin and eastern Germany. Bismarcks and Berlin doughnuts are also found in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Switzerland and the U.S. Today, American style doughnuts are also available in Germany, but are less popular than their native counterparts.
In Greece, there is a doughnut-like snack, called loukoumas (λουκουμάς), which is a doughnut with sugar and comes in two types (one is shaped like the number 8; the other is a torus). The first one is crispier, whereas the second one is larger and softer.
Fánk is a sweet traditional Hungarian cake. The most commonly used ingredients are: flour, yeast, butter, egg yolk, a little bit of rum, a sniff of salt, milk and oil to deep fry with. After the pastry has risen for approximately 30 minutes the result is an extreme light doughnut-like pastry. Fánk is mostly served with powdered sugar and lekvar.
In Iceland kleinuhringur (pl. kleinuhringir and kleinuhringar) are a type of old Icelandic cuisine which resembles doughnuts. The Berliner and many other kinds of donuts can only be found on one day of the year and that is on a holiday called “Bolludagur” or in other words Donut Day.
In Lithuania, a kind of doughnut called spurgos is widely known. Some spurgos are similar to Polish pączki, but some specific recipes, such as cottage cheese doughnuts (varškės spurgos), were invented independently.
In the Netherlands, oliebollen, referred to in cookbooks as “Dutch doughnuts”, are a type of fritter, with or without raisins or currants, and usually sprinkled with powdered sugar. Variations of the recipe contain slices of apple or other fruits. They are traditionally eaten as part of New Year celebrations.
In Norway, the traditional smultring is the prevailing type of doughnut traditionally sold in bakeries, shops, and stalls, however the American-style doughnuts are widely available in larger supermarkets, McDonald’s restaurants, 7-elevens and bakeries. The Berliner is more common than the US doughnut, and sold in most supermarkets and bakeries alongside smultring doughnuts.
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 (pronounced [ˈpɔntʂkʲi]). 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 fried in Poland has been improved, so that pączki became lighter, spongier, and more resilient.
In Romania, donuts are a desert called “gogoși”. Usually they are fried in oil like a pancake, with no hole, and are stuffed with chocolate, jam, cheese and other combinations. They may be covered with powdered sugar.
In Russia and the CIS countries, ponchiki (Russian: пончики, plural form of пончик, ponchik) or pyshki (Russian: пышки, especially in St. Petersburg) are a very popular sweet doughnut, with many fast and simple recipes available in Russian cookbooks for making them at home as a breakfast or coffee pastry. In Ukraine and Belarus they are called pampushky (Ukrainian: пампушки).
In Slovenia, a jam-filled doughnut known as krofi, is very popular. It is the typical sweet during Carnival time, but is to be found in most bakeries during the whole year. The most famous krofi come from the village of Trojane in central Slovenia, and are originally filled with apricot jam filling.
In Spain, there are two different types of doughnuts. The first one, simply called “donuts” (in reference to the most famous commercial brand name for this type of food) or “berlinas” (a more traditional name), refer to the American-style donut, that is, a deep fried, sweet, soft, ring of flour dough.
The second type of donut is a traditional pastry called “rosquilla“, made of fermented dough and which is fried or baked in an oven. They were purportedly introduced in Spain by the Romans. In Spain, there are several variants of them depending on the region where they are prepared and on the time of the year they are sold, as they are regarded in some parts as a pastry especially prepared only for Easter. Although overall they result in pastries of a tighter texture and less sugared than American doughnuts, they differ greatly in shape, size and taste from one region to another.
Although not formally ‘counted’ as a doughnut, but also known as ‘the Spanish doughnut’, the Spanish ‘churro’, is a long, thin, deep-fried and sugared pastry snack. It is sold in many cafes alongside a chocolate ganache, as ‘chocolate con churros’, or plain, in little paper cups.
In Switzerland, there are Zigerkrapfen and Berliner.
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. Also known as doughnoughts, referring to the ‘zero’ shape or ‘nought’, being supplied in bakeries and supermarkets. Fillings include jam, custard, cream, sweet mincemeat, chocolate and apple. Common ring toppings are sprinkle-iced and chocolate.
In Northern Ireland, ring doughnuts are known as ‘gravy rings’, gravy being an archaic term for hot cooking oil.
A doughnut known as “kurma” originating in Eastern India but being sold as a delicacy in Trinidad and Tobago, is a small, sweet, and fried cubed or rectangular-shaped doughnut.
In Jamaica, a local doughnut known as “Festival” is made of flour, cornmeal, sugar, and sometimes vanilla essence. They can range from slightly sweet to very sweet.
United States and Canada
Frosted, glazed, powdered, Boston cream, coconut, sour cream, cinnamon, chocolate, and jelly are some of the varieties eaten in the United States and Canada. There are also potato doughnuts (sometimes referred to as spudnuts). Doughnuts are ubiquitous in the United States and can be found in most grocery stores, as well as in specialty doughnut shops.
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.
Immigrants have brought various doughnut varieties to the United States. To celebrate Fat Tuesday in eastern 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.
In regions of the country where apples are widely grown, especially the Northeast and Midwest states, cider doughnuts are a harvest season specialty, especially at orchards open to tourists, where they can be served fresh. Cider donuts are a cake donut with apple cider in the batter. The use of cider affects both the texture and flavor, resulting in a denser, moister product. They are often coated with either granulated or powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar.
In Southern Louisiana, a popular variety of the doughnut is the beignet, a fried, square doughnut served traditionally with powdered sugar. Perhaps the most famous purveyor of beignets is New Orleans restaurant Cafe Du Monde.
In Australia, the doughnut is a popular snack food. Hot jam doughnuts, known simply as a jam doughnut in Australia are particularly popular and a unique aspect of Australian culture, especially in Melbourne, Victoria and the Queen Victoria Market, where they are a tradition. Jam doughnuts are similar to a Berliner, but are served hot with red jam (raspberry or strawberry) injected into a bun that is deep-fried and then frosted in either sugar or cinnamon. Jam doughnuts are sometimes also bought frozen. In South Australia, they are known as Berliner or Kitchener and often served in cafes. A variant is the custard-filled doughnut.
Mobile vans that serve doughnuts, traditional or jam, are often seen at spectator events, carnivals and fetes and by the roadside near high-traffic areas like airports and the carparks of large shopping centers. Traditional cinnamon doughnuts are readily available in Australia from specialised retailers and convenience stores. Doughnuts are a popular choice for schools and other not-for-profit groups to cook and sell as a fundraiser.
In New Zealand, the doughnut is a popular food snack available in corner dairies. They are in the form of a long sweet bread roll with a deep cut down its long axis. In this cut is placed a long dollop of sweetened clotted cream and on top of this is a spot of strawberry jam. Doughnuts are of two varieties: fresh cream or mock cream.
The rounded variety is widely available as well.
In Brazil, grocery stores and pastry shops sell ball-shaped doughnuts popularly known as “sonhos” (lit. dreams). The dessert was brought to Brazil by Portuguese colonizers that had contact with Dutch and German traders. They are the equivalent of nowadays “bolas de Berlim” (lit. Berlin’s balls) in Portugal, but the traditional Portuguese yellow cream was substituted by local dairy and fruit products. They are made of a special type of bread filled with “goiabada” (guava jelly) or milk cream, and covered by white sugar.
Traditionally, doughnut holes are made by frying the dough removed from the center portion of the doughnut. Consequently, they are considerably smaller than a standard doughnut and tend to be spherical.
Commercially made ring doughnuts are not made by cutting out the central portion of the cake but by dropping a small ball of dough into hot oil from a specially shaped nozzle. Doughnut sellers saw the opportunity to market “holes” as a novelty, as if they were the portions cut out to make the ring. Similar to standard doughnuts, doughnut holes may be topped with confections, such as glaze or powdered sugar.
The doughnut in popular culture
The doughnut has made an appearance in popular culture, particularly in the United States and Australia. References extend to objects or actions that are doughnut-shaped.
Donut King is Australia’s largest retailer of donuts. A Guinness Book of Records largest donut made up of 90,000 individual donuts was set in Sydney in 2007 as part of a celebration for the release of The Simpsons Movie.
Per capita, Canadians consume the most doughnuts, and Canada has the most doughnut stores per capita. Tim Hortons is a popular Canadian doughnut and coffee franchise and one of the most successful food retailers in the country. In the Second City Television sketch comedy “The Great White North” featuring the fictional brothers Bob and Doug MacKenzie and in their film Strange Brew, doughnuts play a role in the duo’s comedy.
In film, the doughnut has inspired Dora’s Dunking Doughnuts (1933), The Doughnuts (1963) and Tour de Donut: Gluttons for Punishment. In video games, the doughnut has appeared in games like The Simpsons Game and Donut Dilemma. In the cartoon Mucha Lucha, there are four things that make up the code of mask wrestling: honor, family, tradition, and doughnuts. Also, in the popular television sitcom The Simpsons, Homer Simpson‘s love affair with doughnuts makes a prominent on-going joke as well as the focal point of more than a few episodes. There is also a children’s book Arnie the Doughnut and music albums The Doughnut in Granny’s Greenhouse and Desert Doughnuts.
In several media, doughnuts are frequently presented as enjoyed by police officers during coffee break. This cliché has been parodied in the film Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, where Officer Zed is instructing new recruits how to “properly” consume their doughnut with coffee. In the video game Neuromancer there is a Donut World shop, where only policemen are allowed.