Donuts are popular sweet snacks enjoyed in different countries, specifically in North America. Whether homemade or available at bakeries, dedicated shops, and grocery stores, donuts can be fluffy and light, or cakey and dense.
Donuts come with or without holes and even in a variety of shapes like rings, rectangles, and even squares. Even the donut holes themselves can be made into some bite-sized treats. You can also find different types of donuts with different ingredients such as dough, toppings, and fillings.
Do donuts contain nuts, too?
Yes, some donuts contain nuts, depending on the variety.
Continue reading below to learn more about the common ingredients of donuts.
What are Donuts Made Of?
All donuts are made using the same list of basic ingredients. Many cooks and bakers always use water, eggs, and flour as well as a type of shortening or oil, salt, and milk. Puffy and light donuts also contain yeast as one of their ingredients.
Cake-like and denser donuts don’t contain yeast but usually include other ingredients like baking soda, vanilla, and cream. After combining all the basic elements, the cook or baker will fry the donuts in oil until they turn golden in color.
Other common ingredients of donuts include fillings that the baker will inject into the middle of the donut. Different kinds of fillings can also be used, which are all sweet. Jelly and jam are two popular options, and they are often made up of fruit mixtures like blueberry, strawberry, and raspberry. Pastry cream or thick custard and fresh cream are very popular as well, such as the iconic Boston cream filling. Some fillings are also composed of rich and sticky chocolate, vanilla, or toffee sauce.
A selection of toppings is also among the common ingredients of donuts. Many types of donuts are also covered with a shiny glaze. The glaze which can be thin or thick is made from milk and confectioner’s sugar. Bakers can also add a variety of exciting colors to the icing that can be natural, themed, or seasonal. Flavors may also differ, with typical examples including chocolate, maple, and vanilla.
The icing mixture is also brushed on top of hot donuts which turns glossy and solid as it cools. Bakers can also roll donuts in powdered or granulated sugar with the donut still wet with hot oil. Some other popular ingredients that are used as toppings for donuts are nuts. Bakers usually roast the nuts first, and these may include peanuts, hazelnuts, and almonds. The nuts are then sprinkled on top of the wet glaze.
Many people, kids in particular, also enjoy their donuts with some candy sprinkles on them. These are donut toppings that have the most variability. Candy sprinkles are available in various colors, with bakers sprinkling them on top of the glaze in one color or a combination of colors.
Usually rod or sphere-shaped, these are also available in themed or seasonal shapes, such as miniature berries and holly during the Christmas season. Even if they don’t have particular flavors, these add a crunchy and pleasing texture to donuts.
Why are Donuts Called Donuts?
Now that you know that donuts do contain nuts, you might be wondering what the word “nut” refers to in donuts.
A donut is defined as a piece of sweet-fried dough usually ring-shaped. It can also be something with a round shape similar to a donut.
Even though they come in a variety of flavors and shapes, American donuts are often round-shaped usually with a hole in the middle. Prepared from fried dough and enjoyed as a dessert or snack, everyone has surely tried and loved it at one point.
So far, the dough part in the name is straightforward but many people are curious to know what the nut refers to.
Many sources seem to suggest that the fried dough treats were originally introduced to the United States when the Dutch settlers arrived in Manhattan. The settlers ate a cooked dough known as oily cakes or olykoeks that were prepared by dropping a spoonful of dough into pork fat.
The origin of the name donuts is still up for some debate. Some people believe it pertains to the nuts added to the dough to add some flavor. There are also claims that the name originated from a recipe where walnuts or hazelnuts were placed in the middle of the cake since the part is seldom cooked correctly.
Putting the nuts in the center of the dough made sure that the center is cooked. Another theory states that it has something to do with the doughnut’s shape. The dough was usually tied in knot style, and the dough knot soon turned into doughnuts.
Using the term donut in written form can be traced back to the early 19th century. A recording revealed how Washington Irving referred to donuts in the 1809 Knickerbocker’s History of New York.
Why Do Donuts Have Holes?
Just like the name itself, the origins of that hole you see in donuts are still up for debate. One theory has something to do with the issue of not cooking the center of the donut properly. The outside part of the cake tended to cook faster compared to the middle, which resulted in a doughy and raw center. Removing the center also removed the problem.
One more idea for adding the hole was for the sake of convenience. When bagels became popular in New York, donut makers copied the bagel’s shape for displaying them easily. This was a stark difference from stacking bagels on wooden dowels for customer viewing and storage.
The Smithsonian Magazine also suggested that Hanson Gregory, an American, claimed to have been the inventor of the ring-shaped donut in 1847. When he was spending time at the sea, Gregory was unhappy with the raw center of the round donuts. He claimed that he punched a hole in the middle of the dough using the tin pepper box of the ship and taught this method later to his mother Elizabeth.