A Guide to Making Your Own

By Angie Riccio

A donut is a fried dough dessert popular in many countries and prepared in various forms. Donuts have been known as a breakfast treat sold at bakeries, cafes, coffee shops, supermarkets, and specialty outlets. They can be deep fried or baked, and are made from various batters, toppings, and flavorings such as sugar, chocolate, or maple glaze. The two most common types of doughnuts are the toroidal ring donut and the filled doughnut. These sweet fried doughs have been making a noise in the year of DIY (do it yourself) projects. From website tutorials, to specialty shops selling donuts topped with a three course meal, donuts are all the rage. Wacky donut shops like Hypnotic in Dallas, TX and Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, OR, which is probably best known for its breakfast cereal-crusted offerings and maple bacon glazed donut, have expanded locations across the country with customer lines reaching anywhere from a half an hour to an hour wait. The craze has spun this country donut-hungry and we are headed into the new era of the vegan donut. From New York City to California, vegan donuts are no longer difficult to find across the USA, with flavors you could not even imagine. Alongside these bakeries providing amazing products, there are recipes all over the web and in cookbooks handing us the tools to "DIY" our very own homemade donuts.

Like many, I am a bit wary of attempting an at home recipe, thinking to myself, "There is no way it will ever look like the photo," or "How on earth do I find these ingredients?" After Googling what the three starches are and what you can substitute for eggs and coconut oil, you barely have enough time left to make the donuts and no time left to enjoy yourself. Throughout my time in the industry, I like many others have found a love for donuts. I bake donuts twice a week at a vegan bakery, as well as often at home for brunch, company, or just as an excuse to respect my dough. I have found hundreds of recipes, experimented with baked, fried, and failure donuts. I am happy with one developed recipe, a do-it-yourself, delicious vegan donut recipe that is easy to shop for, cook, and mostly, enjoy!

First you will need to produce your grocery list:

  • yeast
  • flour
  • soymilk or your favorite alternative milk
  • Earth Balance or your favorite vegan butter
  • organic sugar
  • salt
  • oil (canola or vegetable oil)

Once you have shopped at your local market for the necessary ingredients, make sure you grab the toppings you want for your donut. If you are planning on doing a filled donut, pick up some jelly and powdered sugar or some Oreos, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and use your soymilk to make a vanilla glaze with Oreos on top! Do some internet searching, or just think of your favorite donut. My favorite is a classic cinnamon sugar where the only ingredients you need for the topping is sugar and cinnamon!

Classic Cinnamon Sugar Donut

(Makes 24 donuts)

  • 40 ounces warm water (5 cups)
  • 1 ounce yeast (3 Tablespoons)
  • 2 pounds flour (3 ¾ cups)
  • 8 ounces soymilk (1 cup)
  • 8 ounces Earth Balance/vegan butter substitute (1 cup)
  • 10 ounces organic sugar (1 ¼ cup)
  • 5 ounces yeast (¼ cup)
  • 2 1/2 pounds flour (4 ½ cups)
  • 4 cups oil for frying
  • cinnamon and sugar, to taste

In a large mixing bowl (either an electric mixer bowl or a large enough bowl with room for rising dough), mix the warm water, yeast, and flour together until combined. The mixture will be like a wet sponge. Cover the top of the bowl with a clean towel and allow the dough to rise for one hour in a warm place.

Once the sponge has doubled in size, place back into the mixer and combine the remaining ingredients. If you do not have a mixer, soften the butter substitute and mix by hand until dough is combined without lumps. When the dough is combined it should create a dough ball. It will be elastic and clump free.

Divide the dough in two and place in oiled containers or covered bowls. Allow the dough to rise for half an hour in a warm place. Once the dough has doubled in size, wrap the dough in plastic wrap within the covered container and allow to sit in a refrigerator overnight. The overnight will allow the dough to rest and become less elastic while rolling out for the next day.

The next day, take the dough out of the containers and place on a floured table. Roll out the dough to a quarter of an inch thickness.

Use a circle cookie cutter or a glass to cut out the donuts. If you are producing filled donuts, you only need to make one cut. If you plan on having glaze, use a smaller cutter to produce the smaller hole in the center. Once the donuts are cut, allow them to rest and rise in a warm place for 15-20 minutes.

While the dough rises, prepare your oil. If you do not own a fialator (fryer), you can fill a deep-bottomed pot with oil. Heat the oil to a simmer. Do not let the oil boil! Once the oil is hot, be cautious; it can very easily burn your skin.

Once the donuts have risen, and the oil is hot, you are ready to fry! Slowly, place 3-4 donuts at a time into the oil. Be very careful and use plastic gloves if you have them available. Allow the donuts to cook for two minutes. Flip the donuts, and allow another two minutes. The donuts should be golden brown. Using tongs, take the donuts out of the fryer. The dough should feel lighter than when you placed it in the oil. Use your judgement on this step. If the dough seems to become golden before the two minute mark, flip and remove the donuts. Check the donuts by cutting open to see if they are cooked through. If the dough is raw and the exterior is cooked, turn down the heat and continue cooking.

Follow the previous step for the rest of the dough. Place the finished fried donuts on a cooling rack or on a tray lined with paper towels. Any excess oil will come off the donuts, giving you a cleaner taste and mouth feel.

Allow the donuts to cool. While you wait, prepare your toppings, whatever they may be! In this case, sprinkle your donuts with cinnamon and sugar. Remember it's all about taste; do not stress over the looks to the point of making the donuts no longer a fun activity!

Total calories per serving: 480 Fat: 12 grams
Carbohydrates: 89 grams Protein: 12 grams
Sodium: 91 milligrams Fiber: 4 grams

The fat content of this recipe will vary depending on the type of oil used, cooking temperature and time, and other factors. We estimate that 10% of the oil used for frying will be retained.

What Else Can I Do?

After frying delicious, crisp, airy donuts, what's next? Keep experimenting! Try pizza donuts, cronuts (croissant donuts), donut ice cream sandwiches; be creative! Experiment with different doughs, for example chocolate or apple cider dough with a cinnamon glaze. Be safe while frying and wear protective gear when necessary. Search the web, read cookbooks, and talk to chefs about what they've been baking. Never let anyone tell you you can't make a perfect vegan donut, and if they still don't believe you, prove them wrong with this recipe!

Angie Riccio is a VRG volunteer and is employed as a vegan baker/donut maker. She has a bachelor's degree from Johnson and Wales in Food Service Management, where she was the first documented student to go through the Baking and Pastry program as a vegan.