A Master of Homemade Donuts
Whenever I see doughnuts, I always think about my grandmother. I remember her kneading the yeast dough in a big bowl and making vast amounts of the best doughnuts in the world. She had to because she always generously gave them away to so many people. She had five children, and the children had families and friends… She must have made approximately 100 donuts each time!
Preparing homemade donuts by her seemed such an effortless process. I remember her calling me one Saturday about 11 o’clock to ask when I would be able to pick up doughnuts she had just finished frying. At first, I worried that maybe I didn’t remember about a special occasion. But then she explained she had got up early and had felt like making doughnuts. She was almost 90 at that stage!
Although when I was a child, I used to watch her and help her to prepare them (ok, I just covered them in powdered sugar ?), I never wrote down her best doughnuts recipe with yeast. Over two years ago we agreed to make them together after my holiday. But sadly when I was away, she passed away.
So I didn’t manage to get her homemade donuts recipe. But I did remember some of her tips. Thus I started to look for a doughnut recipe with yeast that would be the closest to the instructions she had mentioned. And I found it on my favourite Polish cooking blog.
Best Doughnuts Recipe with Yeast
My grandmother’s doughnuts were always the best, so I was a little stressed when I made mine for the first time. But thanks to the great recipe and the hints I remembered from her, they turned out excellent too. And even though the whole process takes a few hours (with at least 2 hours idle time), I would encourage you to make an effort. Because there is hardly anything better than still-warm, homemade donuts.
Homemade Donuts - Best Doughnuts Recipe With Yeast
The best homemade donuts filled with jam and topped with lemon icing
- 250 ml milk
- 50 fresh yeast
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 500 g plain flour
- pinch salt
- 1 tbsp vanilla sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 egg yolks
- 50 g butter
- 2 tbsp spirit or vodka
- 1-1.5 l sunflower oil
- jam for filling (strawberry, orange or rose petals)
- 250 g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
Warm up the milk (but don’t boil it as hot milk will kill the yeast), pour it into a 1l container; add crumbled yeast, 1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp sugar. Stir and put to a bigger pot with very warm water in it. Leave the mixture for 15 minutes to rise and get foamy.
Sift the rest of the flour to a big bowl, add salt and vanilla sugar.
Beat the egg, egg yolks and 2 tbsp of sugar with electric mixer for 10-15 minutes.
Melt the butter.
Pour the foamy yeast mixture to the bowl with flour, stir with a wooden spoon. Add the beaten eggs and stir again.
Hand knead the dough very well for 15-20 minutes (you can do it with the mixer instead, it will take you then 10-15 minutes). At the end of this process, the dough shouldn’t stick to your hands anymore.
Add the melted, cooled down butter and the spirit; knead until all the ingredients are combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and keep in a warm place for 1-1.5h till the dough increases its volume considerably.
Dust a working surface with a bit of flour and knead the risen dough for 2-3 minutes to eliminate air bubbles.
Flatten the dough to approx. 2 cm (with your hands or a rolling pin) and cut circles (6-7cm diameter). Form a ball with the leftover dough, flatten it and cut the rest of the circles using up all the dough.
Place the circles on a flour dusted surface, cover with a tea towel and keep in a warm place for 30-45 minutes.
If you prefer to fill the doughnuts before frying them, flatten each circle, put 1 tsp of your chosen jam in the middle and stick the edges together tightly forming a ball. If you are planning to fill the doughnuts after you fry them, transfer the jam to a pastry bag fitted with a long and sharp tip.
Begin heating up the oil on a medium heat 15 minutes before you are planning to start frying the doughnuts. It works the best if the oil heats up slowly and for a long time, in a big and wide pan. The oil is ready when it reaches temperature 180C.
Make the lemon icing by mixing the icing sugar with the lemon juice.
Gently slip the risen doughnuts to heated oil (you shouldn’t fry more than 4-5 doughnuts at a time as you don’t want to decrease the oil temperature rapidly), fry for 2 minutes, turn over and fry for 2 minutes on the other side. When done, take them out from the oil with a slotted spoon and place on a plate covered with paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the doughnuts.
If you are filling them at this stage, start with the doughnuts you fried as the first ones (they will have cooled down a bit by now). Take one, press the tip of the pastry bag deeply and squeeze the desired amount of jam. Repeat with the rest.
Cover the doughnuts with icing or if you prefer simply dust them with icing sugar.
- The ingredients for the dough should be at room temperature, so take them out from the fridge a few hours earlier.
- The milk for the yeast mixture should be warm but not hot.
- Use a bigger container for the yeast mixture as it will expand considerably and get very foamy.
- The container with the yeast mixture should be kept in a pot with very warm water to make sure the mixture stays warm while the yeast works.
- Don’t shorten the time you beat the eggs or knead the dough. It is a lengthy process but necessary if you want light and airy doughnuts. I personally prefer to knead the dough manually as I feel I have better control over it. Besides, it is sort of a workout 😉
- The alcohol (spirit or vodka) is supposed to prevent the doughnuts from soaking too much oil during frying so it shouldn’t be omitted.
- I used sunflower oil for frying, but you could also use rice, rapeseed or coconut oil or even lard.
- The amount of oil is crucial so don’t be tempted to use less as the doughnuts will be greasy otherwise.
- The oil should be heated up on medium heat slowly and for a long time (approx. 15 minutes).
- The doughnuts should be fried in 180C. If the temperature is too low, they will soak in too much oil; if it is too hot, they will burn on the outside but be raw inside.
- If you don’t have a thermometer to check the temperature, there is another but less precise method. Put an ending of a wooden spoon to the oil. If bubbles are coming up from underneath it, the oil is at the (approximately) right temperature.
- Watch the doughnuts when you fry them and adjust the temperature if necessary. They should take about 2 minutes for each side to get brown. If they need more time, the temperature is probably too low, and they will soak in too much oil. If they get brown too quickly, they will stay raw inside.
- Don’t fry too many doughnuts at the same time, 4-5 is a maximum. They need space around them, and if you put too many of them, the temperature of the oil will fall rapidly.
- You can fill the doughnuts before or after frying them. I tested both methods, and both have pros and cons. If you fill them before frying, you have better control over the amount of jam you use. But if you don’t stick the edges correctly, the filling will come out during frying. Filling them after frying is easier and faster, but you don’t know exactly how much filling you have already injected into your doughnut.
Yeast Cake with Plums and Crumble Topping [My Grandma’s Baking – Part I]
Sweet Yeast Rolls with Cheese Filling [My Grandma’s Baking – Part II]
Rhubarb Cake [My Grandma’s Baking – Part III]
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