This easy sugar donut recipe comes from my grandmother and makes traditional baking powder donuts, so no yeast required to make these! You can coat these with cinnamon sugar to make sugar donuts, or a maple glaze to make maple glazed donuts. Up to you!
My grandmother spelled these as “doughnuts” on her recipe card, but I think most of us would nowadays probably spell them as “donuts.” As you can tell from the photo, my grandmother wrote up this recipe years ago on a recipe card, like most of her other recipes. My mom estimates that the recipe is almost 100 years old. Almost all her recipe cards are contained in her metal recipe box that my mom has kept pretty much intact, perhaps with a few additions.
My mom has never made these doughnuts, and sadly, my grandmother is not here to coach me through my attempts to make her donuts. Her recipe card only has ingredients and amounts; no instructions or order of addition of the ingredients as you can see in the photo. I use the order of ingredients to know what order to combine the ingredients and what mixing method to use. Since all the wet ingredients are listed first, then all the dry, we can assume this uses the two bowl mixing method, also known as the muffin mixing method.
When you first mix the dough, it may seem like it’s too sticky to do anything with. But once you’ve chilled the dough for 1 hour, the dough rolls out nicely on a floured surface.
- use a donut cutter
- use two round cookie cutters of different sizes.
Maintaining the temperature of the oil can be difficult on a stovetop. That’s for sure. To avoid that the oil get too hot, I alternated between having the saucepan on the burner and off the burner. I found this worked better than lower the stove setting, which I set to 4 once the oil was heated to the right temperature.
By the way, a great trick for flipping donuts: use chopsticks!
I’ve updated the recipe to use butter instead of shortening. I don’t usually have shortening in my pantry, but feel free to use whatever fat you prefer.
- 1 large egg
- 100 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar
- 2.5 mL (½ tsp) pure vanilla extract
- 22 grams (1½ tbsp) unsalted butter melted and cooled
- 125 mL (½ cup) milk (2 % fat)
- 220 grams (1¾ cups) all-purpose flour
- 0.625 mL (⅛ tsp) ground cloves
- 10 mL (2 tsp) baking powder
- 1 L (4 cups) canola oil for deep frying
- 200 grams (1 cup) cinnamon sugar
Maple glaze (optional)
- 125 grams (1 cup) icing sugar
- 60 mL (¼ cup) maple syrup
- milk (2 % fat) as much as needed for diluting the glaze
- Whisk together the egg, sugar, vanilla, butter, and milk in a bowl. Set aside.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and ground cloves.
- Combine the wet and the dry ingredients and stir to form a sticky dough.
- Cover the bowl tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Roll out the dough to ½–¾ inches and cut out donuts with round cutters (use 1 big and 1 small cutter to make traditional ring donuts).
- Heat a deep sauté pan (like this pan from Le Creuset) half-filled with oil to 350 ºF. Prepare a sheet pan with a wire rack set over it. Line with a little paper towel.
- Fry the donuts, 3 or 4 at a time until golden brown, then flip and continue frying until the colour is fairly even.
- Transfer the fried donuts to the prepared rack and let them cool slightly before tossing in cinnamon sugar to coat. Note that if you want to glaze the donuts, you would skip the sugar coating.
Maple glaze (optional)
- Whisk together the icing sugar, maple syrup, and a splash of milk to form a thick glaze.
- Dip the donuts on one size and twist to coat the surface. Then flip over and place back on the wire rack so that the glaze sets. Repeat with the other donuts.
Janice Lawandi is chemist-turned-baker, working as a recipe developer in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She studied pastry at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and cooking at l’Académie Culinaire. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from Concordia University and a PhD in Chemistry from McGill University. Visit janicelawandi.com to see my portfolio.