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Looking for the ultimate crunchy yeast doughnut recipe

Ok this is a bit of a bizarre request but maybe somebody has an idea.

I grew up in North Carolina and there was a small donut shop that made donuts like nowhere else I've ever found. They had a bumpy texture and were crunchy on the outside...not at all like a Krispy Kreme or a Dunkin Doughnuts type. The closest thing I can think of would be like an apple fritter, without the apples.

Now I live in Canada and the donut shop has long changed ownership, so no calling them to get the recipe...

Any ideas would be appreciated!!

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  1. It sounds like you had an old-fashioned doughnut... I thought perhaps a French Cruller, but those are very airy inside. The old-fashioned donuts are more like apple fritters, without the apples. More cakey and not as pillowy as Krispy Kreme?

    I've never made them, but most doughnut shops still make them.

    1. These doughnuts aren't yeast doughnuts, but they are crispy/crunchy on the outside and absolutely delicious.

      Favorite Doughnuts

      3 1/3 cups all purpose flour
      1 cup sugar
      3 teaspoons baking powder
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
      1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
      2 tablespoons shortening
      2 eggs
      3/4 cup milk

      Heat fat or oil (3 to 4 inches) to 375 degrees in deep fat fryer or kettle. Measure 1 1/2 cups flour and the remaining ingredients into large mixer bowl. Blend 1/2 minute on low speed, scraping bowl constantly. Beat 2 minutes on medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in remaining flour.

      Turn dough onto well-floured cloth-covered board; roll around lightly to coat with flour. Roll dough gently 3/8 inch thick. Cut with floured doughnut cutter.

      With wide spatula, slide doughnuts into hot fat. Turn doughnuts as they rise to surface. Fry 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown on both sides. Carefully remove from fat; do not prick the surface. Drain. Serve plain, sugared, or frosted.
      Yields 2 dozen doughnuts.

      1 Reply
      1. re: janniecooks

        janniecooks please see my recent post below - i was talking about your recipe. Thanks.

      2. Thanks for the tips. The non-yeast recipe sounds yummy and I'll definitely try it but it's not what I'm looking for.

        As for the old-fashioned donuts, I live in Ontario and every donut shop I visit seems to model after Tim Hortons, a big chain here, which has donuts that look and taste exactly like Dunkin Donuts to me...very smooth with a transparent glaze, and very pillowy/airy.

        The donut I'm looking for is very crackly and has a real crunch to the outside. To show how obsessed I am, I've been looking at donut blogs and small donut shop websites for years, and this seems to look as close as I remember those NC donuts...

        Any more recipes would be very appreciated!!

        4 Replies
        1. re: 16crab

          Ah, yes, I see that you are definitely looking for a raised doughnut recipe. Never tried making them myself; suggest you start at a basic website like King Arthur or Betty Crocker and experiment with various raised doughnut recipes.

          Good luck in your search.

          1. re: janniecooks

            Would it be possible to get a bumpy surface with a raised dough. After the second rising the formed doughnut would have a smooth 'inflated' shape.

            1. re: paulj

              When I used the term raised doughnut, I meant yeasted dough, not necessarilyl the smooth doughtnut made from a yeast dough a la Krispy Kreme. Wrong terminology.

          2. re: 16crab

            Hmm... have you tried looking at apple fritter recipes, but leaving out the apples and making doughnuts with the plain dough? I'm guessing the "crunch" has to do with the temp of the oil and the type of glazed being used. Apple fritters are actually a non-yeast "doughnut".


          3. Could the "crunch" have something to do with cornmeal?

            1. I'm wondering if you're looking for baked do-nuts.

              Here are some recipes. I haven't done these. Just for a sample.

              2 Replies
              1. re: yayadave

                Wow thanks for the suggestions! Definitely was yeast, and definitely was fried. I am sure the oil was really hot because it was also a diner and they served french fries etc.
                I thought about trying the apple fritters but most of them are non-yeast, but the ones here at Tim Hortons are definitely yeast and I did find a recipe on cdkitchen that uses yeast and the pic looks nice and crunchy. Looks hard though, but I'm going to give it a try.
                Thank you again.

                1. re: 16crab

                  We used to have a doughnut in L.A. when I was growing up that was called, I think, a French doughnut. The outside was crusty and crunchy and the inside was light, but not airy like a raised doughnut. It was cake-like. The top was cut before it was cooked and so the outside top had peaks and valleys (tiny ones).

                  I haven't been near a doughnut store in so long I don't even know if they make these anymore.

              2. I am planning on trying your recipe on sunday - i have never made doughnuts before - but thought it would be a good mother's day surprise...what is the texture on the inside - is it cakey? thanks.

                2 Replies
                1. re: howchow

                  No, not like a cake, the texture is more coarse. Not as soft and tender as a dunkin donuts donut, more coarse but not dry at all. And the proper oil temperature is what will give you the nice crispy, crunchy outisde. Also, way back when I last made these fresh nutmeg hadn't arrived on the scene, so if you're going to use fresh, I'd at least double the quantity in the recipe. Whatever you do don't leave it out!

                  Let us know how they turned out for you, and good luck.

                  1. re: janniecooks

                    so, we had doughnuts for breakfast! the dough was wet, so i had some trouble getting the doughnuts intact into the oil - I had about 5 perfect rings - the rest looked more like beignets and a few of the larger ones were unfortunately not cooked through - but the ones that were tasted awesome! after they cooled rolled 1/2 in powdered sugar and the others in cinnamon sugar. thanks.

                2. Go to this website and let me know if these are the donuts you want to make. If so, I know exactly what you mean and I am looking for a recipe too.


                  3 Replies
                  1. re: djander

                    Yes! This is what I erroneously called "French doughnuts" in a post above. They were called "buttermilk doughnuts" and had those ridges. They were made with or without frosting.


                    1. re: oakjoan

                      I know those as buttermilk, and my favorite too. Love that glaze or when they use dark chocolate too...yum.

                    2. re: djander

                      Oh gosh, those bring back memories( not the actual doughnut), but Stan's. He makes/made an awsome pb choc. donut. I used to go there when Westwood was the place to hang out( before 3rd street promenade was popular)

                    3. (chuckles) All that to come up with "old fashioned" donuts! I love maple old fashioned but now that I live in North Carolina (San Francisco Bay Area native) I'm not finding a donut shop that is worth the time. I don't much care for DD as they're always stale/over manufactured tasting.. and I only get KK when the light is on, which the one in Raleigh NEVER is... It's all so very sad. But now I'm completely off track...

                      I love old fashion'ds too! (but never would have guessed that is what you were trying to describe the whole time. Kudos to the one who finally figured it out!)

                      1. Back when this was first posted, I wandered down memory lane. We used to make a raised potato doughnut of my grandma's. I don't know it origin, but the recipe is in a LaSalle County ( Illinois ) Home Bureau Silver Anniversary Edition cook book. No date, but it looks like its printed about 1943.
                        Its not the recipe you are looking for, but I've been wanting to make these for a long time. Guess I'll have to train extra hard this winter for the 10 miler run scheduled in March.

                        I remember the deep fat fryer filled with crisco, melting, and then these soft airy doughuts fried to perfection. Dipped in granulated sugar.

                        milk 1 c
                        fat 1/2 c
                        sugar 1/2 c
                        salt 1/2 t
                        quick yeast 1 cake
                        lukewarm water 1/4 c
                        egg, beaten, 1
                        mashed potato 1/2 c
                        flour, sifted 6 c

                        Scald milk, add fat sugar and salt. When cool, add yeast softened in water and 1 t sugar. Add beaten egg and potatoes, moistened with 1/2 potato water. Beat in flour until mixture is stiff. Place dough in greased bowl. Let rise until triple in bulk. Keep in warm place. Roll 1/2 inch thick, cut, let stand 1 hour. Fry in hot fat. Roll in powdered or granulated sugar. Turn doughnuts soon after they are dropped in fat, turn again when brown and this will keep them from cracking. This dough may be stored in ice box like ice box rolls.

                        And a recipe just below it is called Waffle Doughnuts. I wonder if it _might_ be closer to the recipe you are looking for, though it calls to use a waffle iron.

                        shortening 1 1/2T
                        granulated sugar 1/4 c
                        syrup 1/4 c
                        egg 1
                        sifted flour 2 c
                        baking powder 3 t
                        salt 1/2 t
                        nutmeg 1/2 t
                        milk 3/4 c
                        melted butter and sugar

                        cream shortening, add sugar and syrup. Beat well. Add egg, beat again. Add dry ingredients, sifted together, alternately with milk. Add more milk if needed to make a thick pouring batter. Bake in a hot waffle iron. Brush with melted butter immediately, dust with sugar. These are best served warm, but may be reheated in slow oven. makes 4 waffles.

                        I'm making a guess that your old fashioned ones are piped into hot fat, like an elephant ear, vs formed ahead of time. This waffle doughnut caught my eye...interesting in name. In comparing with Joy of Cooking buttermilk waffles--which has more milk, more fat, and less leavening. and less sugar per the 2 c of flour.

                        Maybe time to experiment with the waffle doughnuts, and get out the deep fryer. It is starting to get colder in MN.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: type2runner

                          That waffle doughut wasn't yeasted, but I tried it for lunch today. Definately not waffle batter, very thick. Not sweet. Kinda cake-ey.'

                          Good taste and fun to experiment.

                        2. I have been searching for the same recipe for years after having a donut shop in Salinas, CA. that served these crispy donuts that had large air holes inside, not heavy or dense. The glaze was not the white gooey glazes but more like clear and lightly sweet to keep the donut crispy. Did you ever find the recipe?
                          Please share if you did!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: bakersan

                            Unfortunately I've not found anything. I've made a few variations of the standard yeast doughnut and while they were good straight out of the fryer, they didn't come close to the one I was looking for. Just too dense really. I also tried one with mashed potatoes. I have been wondering if frying in shortening or lard might be the trick, as surely the doughnut shop of my youth (I was born in 1972) would not have been concerned with trans fats and the like. Really I need one that's much lighter. I imagine if you baked the dough as bread it would be quite light and fluffy. If you find one in the search, please share as well!

                            1. re: 16crab

                              I'm in search of the same recipe-Britts why do you have to be soooo good! Please share if you find it.

                              1. re: 16crab

                                5 lbs of flour later...I have been experimenting with flours, yeasts, oil temperatures, etc. and here's a recipe you can try and see what you think...it's a work in progress so I haven't created the right glaze yet.
                                Sandi’s Sort-of-Crispy Doughnuts
                                • 1-1/3 C Bread Flour
                                • 1/3 C Cake Flour
                                • 1/3 High Gluten Flour
                                • 3 t Instant Yeast (1 pkg of Red Star rapid rise)
                                • 5 T sugar
                                • 2½ t salt
                                • 1 egg, room temp.
                                • ½ C bottled water, room temp.
                                • 5 T unsalted Butter, room temperature

                                1. Mix all ingredients A, and B together in mixer bowl.
                                2. Mix eggs with water in small bowl until well blended.
                                3. Add to dry ingredients and beat using k-beater (regular Kitchenaid paddle) at #2 speed for 5 minutes.
                                4. Using the paddle attachment knead for 5 to 8 minutes on #2 speed, adding sprinkles of flour if the dough is too sticky (It should not look like bread dough though)
                                5. Add in butter and beat additional 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
                                6. Leave the dough aside on floured surface and let the dough rise for another 30-60 minutes till double in size.
                                7. Roll the dough properly into ¾” thickness.
                                8. Let the dough rise for 10 minutes
                                9. Dip cutters in flour and cut out in doughnut shapes or holes.
                                10. Transfer cut-out doughnuts to a tray sprinkled with flour,
                                11. Leave aside for another 30 min. or more to allow the dough to proof further.
                                12. Heat the oil to 325º - 350º
                                13. Fry the donut dough until very light golden brown. Keep oil temperature constant. It just takes a 2± minutes per side.
                                14. Place fried doughnuts on rack to drain.
                                15. Return oil to 325º - 350º and refry the doughnuts. Do quickly to not burn the doughnuts.
                                16. Dust with powdered sugar or dip in glaze (that I haven’t created yet)

                            2. This thread may be long dead, but this sounds like a bear claw to me.