Learn how to make doughnuts from scratch with this simple recipe for doughnuts – from cutting the doughnuts and deep-frying to filling with sticky berry jam.
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Doughnuts (or donuts as they are called elsewhere) are an all-time favourite treat to buy from the bakery, but have you ever thought about making your own? You can with this simple recipe for doughnuts with jammy berry centres. You’ll find lots of different fried dough snacks in global cuisines, including French beignets, Spanish churros and loukoumades in Greece and Cyprus. Jam doughnut recipes date back to Germany in the 1500s, which is why these no-hole doughnuts are also known as Berliners. They’re traditionally made from a sweetened yeast dough that’s cut into discs and deep-fried whole, then dusted with sugar. After the doughnuts are cooked, the filling is added by inserting a piping nozzle into one side and piping jam into the centres.
You can experiment with making doughnuts in lots of easy ways – baking them in the oven in a specialty doughnut pan or muffin pan, or making them in a pie maker or in the air fryer. Not all doughnut mixtures are made with yeast - they can also be made in a similar way to cakes and muffins using baking powder or bicarbonate of soda. But to get the best results with traditional yeast doughnuts, you need to cook them the old-fashioned way by deep-frying. This gives you the classic doughnut taste and texture – golden on the outside and fluffy on the inside.
If you haven’t done much deep-frying at home, make sure you have the right equipment before you get started. Unless you have an electric deep-fryer, it’s best to use a wok or stir-fry pan for deep-frying these doughnuts. The depth of the pan means the doughnuts will float, not sit on the base of the pan, so they can cook without overbrowning, while the sloping side means you don’t need to use as much oil as you would in a large saucepan.
A deep-frying thermometer is also handy for checking that the oil has reached the right temperature for deep-frying – you want to heat it to 180°C before adding the doughnuts to the oil. If the oil is too hot, the outside of the doughnuts will brown too much before the insides are cooked through. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the doughnuts will absorb more oil, making them greasy, plus they will take longer to cook, which can make them tough rather than light and fluffy in texture. If you don’t have a thermometer, one easy trick is to add a piece of bread to the oil – if the oil has been heated to 180°C, the bread should turn golden brown in 15 seconds.
The first thing to do is prepare the easy yeast dough. Start by making separate mixes of the dry ingredients, including flour, sugar, instant dried yeast, cinnamon and salt, and the wet ingredients – milk, melted butter, egg yolks and water. Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and combine, then knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Unlike bread dough, which has to be kneaded well to develop the gluten in the flour, the kneading process for doughnuts is nice and quick. You’ll need to wait for a while before cutting doughnuts though, because the next stage is rising time. Leave the dough in a warm place for the yeast to work – it’s ready when it’s doubled in size.
The next step is to punch the air out of the dough and knead it again briefly before rolling it out, ready for cutting doughnuts. Do this using a 7cm round cutter so the doughnuts are all the same size. To avoid waste, reroll the excess dough to cut more doughnuts. Once all the doughnuts have been cut, arrange them on a lined tray and leave to rise again for 15 minutes so they puff up slightly.
Before you start frying, have a bowl of sugar ready to coat the fried doughnuts. Deep-fry in batches, scooping the doughnuts from the oil with a slotted spoon and draining them on a plate lined with paper towel to remove excess oil before tossing in the sugar. When you have a tray full of warm sugared doughnuts, it’s time to fill them with jam. Put the jam in a piping bag fitted with a 5mm nozzle and carefully insert the nozzle into the side of each doughnut to squeeze in the jam.
This recipe makes 10 doughnuts, so after enjoying them fresh on the day you may have some left over. To turn day-old doughnuts into dessert, you could reheat them in the oven or air fryer and enjoy a warm doughnut with ice cream. Or use them up in a bread and butter pudding recipe. Halve the doughnuts crossways and arrange in a greased ovenproof dish with any extras such as fresh or frozen berries or chopped chocolate. For the custard mixture, whisk together 6 eggs, 1 cup (250ml) milk, 1/2 cup (125ml) thickened cream and 1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar. Pour this over the doughnuts in the dish and let it soak in for 15 minutes – don’t skip this step, because it helps you get the perfect texture in the finished pudding. Now put the dish in a larger roasting pan and pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the side of the dish. Bake at 160°C for 35-40 minutes or until the custard is just set – it should still wobble a little. Remove from the water bath and let it cool and thicken in the dish for 5 minutes before serving.
Now you know how to make jam doughnuts, you’ll be able to whip them up for parties or as a treat on the weekend. For traditional ring doughnuts glazed with coloured icing and decorated with sprinkles, check out our Easter doughnuts recipe. Or try making the Greek version of doughnuts, loukoumades . To make your own gourmet filling for berry donuts, try our strawberry, raspberry and rhubarb jam recipe. For the flavour of jam doughnuts in a pull-apart baked treat, make our jam doughnut scrolls. Or, for another bread and butter pudding idea that tastes like cinnamon doughnuts, give our mini cinnamon toast puddings a go.
Energy: 1798kJ/430 Cals (21%)
Protein: 7g (14%)
Fat: 13g (19%)
Sat fat: 6g (25%)
Carb: 71g (23%)
Sugar: 38g (42%)
Fibre: 3g (10%)
Sodium: 184mg (9%)