It’s a staple in American culture, it’s an excuse to eat cake for breakfast and it’s flavor and topping options are endless. One thing for me should be a firm constant when it comes to the donut.Donuts should always be fried. Whether it’s a cake donut or my personal favorite, a yeasted donut, they should always be fried: NOT BAKED!
Donut pans are something I only recently started using. About a year ago I was teaching a donut class and had my first baked donut encounter. If I can remember correctly we were making a Nutella filled yeasted donut, an apple cider donut and for some god awful reason the third donut, a lemon poppyseed with a delightful lemon glaze, as a baked donut. In a pan. A donut pan to be specific.
The donut pans themselves are cute. I have seen three basic sizes for the pans- regular size (the size of a donut from the supermarket or dunkin, not a fancy giant donut) a medium one and a small one. The small donut is a little bigger than a silver dollar.
I have several issues with baking donuts in pans, but the main two I will talk about are as follows:
1. The texture
2. The look
Donuts are typically made from a dough. It’s rolled out and shapes are cut out with a cookie cutter. It’s dense, almost heavy and when fried gets a soft but firm interior texture and a firm, sometimes crunchy, outer texture. They are easy to pick up and handle, especially when dipping in ganache or glaze.
Baked donuts are made from a batter that is thin and handled easiest when piped into the donut molds. The texture is soft, almost crumbly and the exterior is thin and delicate. Baked donuts are literally cake, shaped into the image of a donut.
Donut pans CAN produce very round, symmetrical pretty looking donuts. The issue I constantly have when I make these is figuring out the perfect amount of batter to add to each mold.
You can see from both images the different amounts of batter I added to each row of donuts. Lookig at the second picture, the first row is what we are looking for shape wise. I filled the molds about 1/3 of the way full.
The middle row is a little overfilled and the donuts looks bloated. They basically look the way i feel after eating a burrito. These were filled about 1/2 the way full.
The last row are overfilled and the middle hole has been engulfed with batter. These molds were filled almost to the top of the pan.
Personally I think donut pans should be used to make anything except what I would call a donut. Since my first time using them in class, I have dabbled here and there in trying out different recipes. Each recipe I have made has come out fine, if I was aiming to make round shaped disks of cake. They just aren’t donuts and not what I want when I want a donut.
The latest recipe I made comes from King Arthur and was pretty good! I omitted the chocolate chips in the batter and used vegetable oil instead of melted butter. I also made a traditional ganache for the top:
8oz dark bittersweet chocolate
5.5oz heavy cream
Heat the heavy cream and chocolate over a double boiler until the chocolate is melted. Let cool down for 2-3 minutes before using.