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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 a batter temperature of 70° to 72° F (21.1° to 22.2° C) or to the temperature recommended by the maker of the donut mix.
  2. Measure the water volume according to the formula. Weigh the dry mix. Be precise with both measurements, don't estimate.
  3. Select the mixing bowl for the batch size and match the paddle. To ensure proper mixing, put the water in first, then add the dry mix.
  4. Set the time to one minute and mix at low speed. Mix for an additional two minutes at medium speed.
  5. When mixing is complete, check the batter temperature. If you calculated the water temperature correctly, it should register about 70° to 72° F (21.1° to 22.2° C), or to the temperature recommended by the maker of the donut mix.
  6. 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.)
  7. While the batter is leavening, check the donut fryer temperature. It should be 375° F (190.5° C).
  8. Put in a sufficient number of frying screens to bring the shortening level of the kettle within 2" to 3" (5.1 to 7.6 cm) above the top screen. Adjust the shortening level by adding shortening; or if the shortening level is too high, add enough screens to bring the top screen within 2" to 3" (5.1 to 7.6 cm) of the surface.
  9. Check the depositor for cleanliness. Get the match plunger and sleeve from the storage area and check for nicks and other damage. Examine the "O" ring. Clean it if necessary. Replace it if it's worn. Install the plunger and sleeve in the depositor before filling the hopper with batter.
  10. Check the deposit (donut weights) by setting the dial and cutting two donuts onto a small waxed tissue. Weigh them. Adjust the dial up or down to increase or decrease the weights and repeat the weighing procedure until the desired weight is attained. Check the bottom of the cutter. It should be 1½" to 2" (3.8 to 5.1 cm) above the frying shortening.
  11. Cut the donuts by turning the handle, then systematically arrange them in the fryer by going back and forth in rows. If you turn them in the same order that you put them in the fryer, this will make the frying time for each donut the same. 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."
  12. As the rings surface, check the break point. The break point is a crack that develops because the cutter action forms a weak, or stress, point in the batter. This point should be at, or slightly above, the shortening surface.
  13. Fry the first side for 45 to 60 seconds and then turn the rings just before bubbles form in the center of the unfried portion of the donut. Ideally, the donuts should be turned just before bubbles appear. If bubbles start to form, you are waiting too long to turn the donuts.
  14. Fry the second side for the same length of time as the first and when you turn the donuts, check the first side for a proper star formation. A star formation is a slight wrinkling, or drawing in, of the dough around the edge of the hole in the donut. When frying time is up, attach handles to the screen, remove from the fryer, and place the screen of donuts on the fryer extension to drain.

Troubleshooting Cake Donuts

  • What is the correct batter temperature? Correct batter temperature is 75° to 80° F (24° to 27° C). Check mix manufacturer's instructions on the bag for temperature range since it can vary with different products.
  • What happens if the batter is too warm? The donuts will lack volume and may ring out or be misshapen.
  • What if the batter is too cold? The donuts stay under the shortening too long, fry too slowly, crack open or ball up and also can absorb excess shortening and lose volume.
  • Why is a floor time recommended? A 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 good volume with proper shortening preparation.
  • What happens if the floor time is too long? Floor time should not exceed 30 minutes or 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? The correct shortening temperature for frying is 370° to 380° F (188° to 193° C).
  • What if the shortening temperature is too high? The donut fries too fast on the outside, proper expansion is prevented, volume will be subnormal, and the interior crumb may be close.
  • What if the shortening temperature is too low? The donut spreads too rapidly, forms large rings, and tends to crack open. The crust color will be light and the shortening absorption too high.
  • What if the shortening level is too far below the cutter? During cutting, the donuts may drop flat and the donuts are apt to turn over while submerging or surfacing and may 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 with the top side the same way the batter comes from the cutter. Most frying kettles are 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20.5 cm) deep. 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 show poor keeping quality. Ideally, donuts 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, have the batter at the proper temperature, give the batter a 10-minute floor time, have the shortening at the proper temperature, and turn donuts promptly when they take on a golden brown color. Do not over-fry donuts on the first side. Turn donuts only once.

Read how to prepare and troubleshoot yeast-raised donuts

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