This old fashioned homemade yeast doughnuts recipe yields the most amazingly soft and fluffy doughnuts that are not only delicious but super easy to make too.
I call these old fashioned doughnuts because these doughnuts remind me of the times my mother used to make them when I was a child - fresh and fluffy treats, deep fried and gloriously coated with sugar.
The ingredients I use in making these doughnuts are pretty basic just like most other doughnut recipes - flour, yeast, sugar and salt for the dry ingredients and eggs, butter and milk for the wet ingredients.
Typically, when using yeast, most recipes would call for the yeast to be mixed with liquid that is slightly warm (lukewarm). In fact, it is always deemed a crucial step to make sure the liquid (be it water or milk) is slightly warm for the yeast to work well. In my recipe below, I still mix the yeast with liquid ingredient (milk), but I do not require the milk temperature to be warm. It is suffice that the milk is at room temperature. The yeast still works so long as the milk is not too cold. Plus, I allow ample time for the mixed dough to proof so, the yeast gets to do its job well.
I let the yeast dissolve for about a minute or two and then dump in all the rest of the ingredients except for butter into my mixer (with dough hooks) and knead it for a good 5 minutes until it all comes together nicely. And then I add the butter (also at room temperature for easy incorporation into the dough) in small pieces and continue to let my mixer do the kneading at low speed for another 6 to 7 minutes until the butter gets all incorporated into the dough.
I then remove the dough into a deep bowl and cover it with cling wrap before putting it away to proof. The next step is another one that differs from the typical process of yeast proofing. While most recipes call for the dough to be placed in a warm place to double or triple in size, I place mine in the refrigerator. I leave it in there for a minimum of 8 hours (but not more than 20 hours) to proof. And trust me, the dough proofs so beautifully in the fridge despite the cold temperature.
Since long hours of proofing is required with the refrigeration technique, I prefer to mix my doughnut dough the night before I intend to eat them. That way, the dough has enough time to proof and I get to break the process into 2 shorter steps over 2 days.
Once the dough is removed from the fridge (it should have almost tripled in size), I turn it onto a floured surface and give it a quick knead for a good one minute or two. The dough can be slightly sticky at times (depending on the exact amount of liquid that went into the dough) and if that happens, I sprinkle more flour onto my work surface and knead it into my dough until its is more manageable.
Shaping the doughnuts
I love to shape my doughnuts the old fashioned way - with a hole in the center. My mom used to have a doughnut cutter with a hole in the center so when I used to make these doughnuts then, I just rolled my dough and cut the doughnuts out with the cutter.
I start by dividing the dough into equal sized portions. I prefer to do this rather than rolling the dough because this way, I get consistently sized doughnuts as compared to cutting them out from rolled dough. Different batches of the rolled dough might vary in thickness and that could result in some doughnuts being larger than the others.
For the doughnuts pictured here, I weighed them to be +/- 40 grams each. I then rolled them into smooth balls and flattened them by hand such that they were about the size of the cutter I use.
I then placed the flattened dough into the larger of the 2 round cutters ( I dipped the cutters into flour so that the dough does not stick to them) and pressed the dough down so that it filled the cutter and no gap was left.
And then I used the smaller round cutter and cut out a hole in the center.
I then removed the small cutter and the doughnut centers followed by the large cutter.
This was how the doughnuts looked like.
I continued the process until all the dough (including the center cut outs were all used up).
I then left the doughnuts to proof in a warm place for a good 1 to 2 hours until they have tripled in size. Temperature is very important for the doughnuts to rise well at this stage so they need to be put in a warm place for proofing and be given sufficient time to proof.
And I prefer to place the doughnuts on individually cut parchment papers. When frying, I simply lift the doughnuts along with the paper underneath and slide them into the oil (without the paper). This way, I do not have to touch the dough and that really helps in making sure the doughnuts do not sink.
Once the doughnuts are done in the oil, I remove them and let them cool slightly before coating them with castor sugar.
And that is pretty much how I make my old fashioned homemade yeast doughnuts. for the recipe measurement below, I was able to make 15 fluffy doughnuts.
Here is the full printable recipe: