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Donut-Making Tips: Cake Donuts

Read our tips and tricks for making cake donuts! Copyright © Dawn Food Products, Inc.

Preparing Cake Donuts

  1. Calculate the water temperature for the batter temperature recommended by the maker of the donut mix, considering both the dry mix temperature and mixer friction in your calculation.
  2. Collect/Dispense precise amount of water volume (at temperature calculated above). 
  3. Collect/Dispense precise amount of dry mix.
  4. Select the mixing bowl and matched paddle for the selected batch size. To ensure proper mixing, add the water first, then add the dry mix.
  5. Mix at low speed for one minute.
  6. Mix for an additional two minutes at medium speed.
  7. Check the batter temperature to ensure it is within the appropriate range (as determined in step 1).
  8. Let the batter rest for 10 to 15 minutes so that proper hydration can occur. (Hydration is the absorption of water by the particles of dry mix which promotes the leavening or gassing of the batter.)
  9. While the batter is leavening, check the donut fryer temperature. It should be 375° F (190.5° C).
  10. Put in a sufficient number of frying screens and then add shortening if needed to bring the shortening level of the kettle within 2" to 3" (5.1 to 7.6 cm) above the top screen.
  11. Ensure the depositor, plunger and sleeve are clean and undamaged. Examine the "O" ring and clean or replace if necessary. Install the plunger and sleeve in the depositor and then fill the hopper with batter.
  12. Check the deposit (donut weights) by setting the dial and cutting two donuts for weighing. Adjust the dial up or down to increase or decrease the weights and repeat the weighing procedure until the desired weight is attained. 
  13. Set the depositor height so that the bottom of the cutter is 1½" to 2" (3.8 to 5.1 cm) above the frying shortening.
  14. Cut the donuts by turning the handle, then systematically arrange them in the fryer by going back and forth in rows and columns. 
    1. The batter will sink as it drops from the depositor and then it will surface with 5 to 8 seconds depending on the type of mix being used. This is called "rise time."
  15. Fry for 45 to 60 seconds and then turn or flip the products just before bubbles form in the center of the unfried portion of the donut. 
    1. Ideally, the donuts should be turned just before bubbles appear.
  16. Fry the second side for the same length of time as the first.
  17. Attach handles to the screen, remove the screen from the fryer, and place the screen of donuts on the fryer drain tray.

Troubleshooting Cake Donuts

  • What is the correct batter temperature? Correct batter temperature ranges between 72° to 80°F (23° to 27° C). Check mix manufacturer's instructions on the bag for temperature range which varies between different products.
  • What happens if the batter is too warm? The donuts will lack volume or be misshapen.
  • What if the batter is too cold? The donuts will stay under the shortening too long, fry too slowly, crack open, ball up, lose volume and/or absorb excess shortening.
  • Why is a rest time or floor time recommended? A rest/floor time of 10 minutes between mixing and cutting is needed for the baking powder to take up the water which helps produce donuts of proper volume.
  • What happens if the rest time or floor time is too long? If rest/floor time exceeds 30 minutes the mix will gas off and the donuts will lose volume and shape, and there will be increased shortening absorption.
  • What is the correct frying temperature? Recommended shortening temperature for frying donuts is 370° to 380°F (188° to 193°C).  Always start with mix manufacturer's recommendations.
  • What if the shortening temperature is too high? The donut will fry too fast on the outside, preventing proper expansion, producing a subnormal volume (finished size), and negatively affecting the interior crumb (may be close).
  • What if the shortening temperature is too low? The donut will spread too rapidly, forming larger than desired products, and tend to crack open. The crust color will be light and the shortening absorption high.
  • What if the shortening level is too far below the cutter? During cutting, the donuts drop flat and may turn over while submerging or surfacing and produce non-uniform, cracked, or rough-crusted donuts.
  • How far should the frying screen be below the shortening surface? The frying screen should be 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) below the shortening surface while the batter is being dropped. The distance should be adjusted so the donuts rise in the same orientation as they were dropped without turning on their own. You may place screens in the fryer to reduce the depth of the shortening. If the screen is too deep in the shortening the donut may turn over while rising, resulting in non-uniform and cracked donuts.
  • What happens when the screen is too near the surface? The batter may stick on the screen and delay rising to the surface. This may result in a heavily crusted donut that is low in volume and screen marked.
  • How can donuts be prevented from sticking to the fry screen in open kettle frying? Keep the fry screens clean. Clean any carbonized or dirty screens with a wire brush and a mild solution of hot washing soda to remove all adhering material that the batter could stick to. Season the screens after cleaning by soaking in the hot frying shortening for about 20 minutes. Make sure the screens are dry before putting them in the fryer. If water gets in the fryer it will turn to steam, explode, and scatter hot shortening that can cause severe burns.
  • What happens when shortening absorption is too low? Donuts will exhibit poor keeping quality. Ideally, standard sized rings will absorb between 1½ and 3 ounces (42.5 and 85.1 grams) of shortening per dozen depending on their weight.
  • How can excessive shortening absorption be reduced? Mix the batter a little longer than usual.  Ensure batter is at the proper temperature.  Allow 10-minute rest/floor time between mix and deposit.  Ensure shortening is at the proper temperature.  Do not over fry donuts and turn them only once.

Read how to prepare and troubleshoot yeast-raised donuts

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