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Feb 6, 2010 09:35 PM

Doughnut frying issues

Okay, so I attempted doughnuts last night, using a properly calibrated thermometer, a cast iron dutch oven and an electric stove. The recipe is one that I have used previously, in a different pan, with a different thermometer, and on a gas stove, and it worked fine then. Last night, however, it was a complete disaster, with the doughnuts burning on the outside and totally raw on the inside. I've only made doughnuts a couple of times previously, and I'm not super knowledgeable about deep-frying in general, especially not on an electric stove. The temperature kept spiking wildly every time I added a doughnut to the oil, which didn't make sense to me, since I thought the oil was supposed to cool when I added the doughnuts.

So, in short, I'm asking for any tips regarding doughnuts (and deep-frying in general) on an electric stove, and any enlightenment as to what could have gone wrong?


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  1. Was it a cake or a yeast donut?

    The oil will cool when you add a new batch of donuts to the oil, so I wonder what else was happening at the same time. How big was the dutch oven and what kind of oil were you using? Had you previously used the oil?

    If they were burnt on the outside and raw on the inside it tells me that your temps were too high. What temperature were you frying at?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Kelli2006

      They were cake doughnuts, in a five quart dutch oven, with canola oil, which I have used previously with success.

      I had the same initial thought with the temperature. It was 365 on the thermometer when the doughnuts went in - what was specified by the recipe. I tried lowering it to 350 and then 340, but got the same results, just a little bit slower (i.e., still burnt on the outside and gummy on the inside).

      1. re: mayfair1929

        I would never go below 350° for cake donuts. A 5 quart pot with canola shouldn't cause a problem for a home baker so your problem likely lies elsewhere. You said that your thermometer was properly calibrated and I have to wonder how you know that to be true? Did you check it with boiling water?

        I am wondering how big were your donuts because overly large products will take abnormally long to cook and would result in a burned exterior while the centers never reach the proper temperature.

        1. re: Kelli2006

          I checked it in boiling water, but not right before I used it for the doughnuts - it was about a day in advance. Do you think that's the issue?

          And to cut the doughnuts out I used a doughnut cutter with a 3 1/2" diameter.

          1. re: mayfair1929

            If you checked it in boiling water the day before I wouldn't suspect that the temperature readings were faulty.

            A 3.5" donut is certainly not over-sized. How big is the hole?

            I'm stumped now.

    2. Looks to me like a temperature control issue; exclusive of any other factor.
      Deep frying things like donuts in a cast iron vessel on an electric stove requires some magic. Electric ranges can't recover as quickly as gas ranges so when your deep fryer is too hot you've got to remove the vessel from the burner, turn the burner down, wait until the oil approaches the desired temperature, put the vessel back on the burner and hope that the level you turned it down to will maintain the temperature you need. If it's turned too low the oil temperature will not recover fast enough. If it's too high you're right back in the same predicament you started with. If you're going to use electric appliances as deep fat fryers you really need, IMO, one that is thermostatically controlled; and that means an appliance separate from your electric range.

      4 Replies
      1. re: todao

        Were you using the same doughnut recipe you used before? I think recipes with milk brown faster.

        1. re: jvanderh

          todao, I spent probably an hour taking the oil off the heat, trying to get it to cool and then attempting to find the right level on the stove for it to stay at a decent temperature. In an ideal world, I would totally get a deep fryer, but honestly, I don't fry things often, and I've got a miniscule kitchen without much in the way of storage. Thanks for the tip, though.

          jvanderh, I've used the recipe twice before with success - once on a gas range, and once in a deep fryer.

          Has anyone had any success deep-frying with cast iron on an electric stove, or have I set myself an impossible task? Is there another type of vessel that would work better?

          1. re: mayfair1929

            I use a regular saucepan, although it seems like cast iron would be better for maintaining a consistent temperature. Did it take ages to cool down when you decreased the temp? I mean, I guess to make a long story short, if you stick one in the oil and it browns too fast, regardless of what temperature the oil is, you've got to cool the oil for the next ones. I just got a thermometer, so am more used to keeping an eye and turning the burner up and down than talking temperature. It does seem to be a little harder to get bread products fried right.

            1. re: mayfair1929

              >Has anyone had any success deep-frying with cast iron on an electric stove, or have I set myself an impossible task? Is there another type of vessel that would work better?

              I have done this successfully multiple times. I like the cast iron better than a regular pot because the heat does not drop as much when I add food. I don't know why your oil temp would spike when you add the food, but I don't think it's the stove/pot combo.

              To prevent the temp from dropping too much, I heat the oil to the right temp on a medium heat (5 or 6 out of 10). Right before I add the food, I turn up the heat to 7 or 8. The increase in heat compensates for the food. Halfway through frying a batch I will start to turn the heat down. Depending on how steady the heat is on my thermometer, I will wait between batches or fry right away.

        2. Was your dough going from the fridge to the oil? Clearly there is a temperature problem and it diesn't seem to be in the oil. My suggestion is to make sure that you are as close to room temperature as possible before frying. The colder the dough, the longer it will take to get to temperature. The longer it takes to get to temperature, the greater the chances the outside will overcook.

          The other suggestion to make sure the donuts themselves aren't too large seems to be a good one as well but I suppose you already know that.

          1. One other thing to consider is the percentage of sugar in the recipe. Most donut recipes contain between 10 and 15% sugar. So, ideally if your mix weighs 8 lbs, 1 lb of that will be sugar. Too much sugar will cause the donut to brown too quickly, and to appear done before the inside is cooked. What recipe are you using and how much sugar is contained in it?

            1. cocktailhour - it sounds like your electric stove is more precise than mine. I had it on either the medium or the medium-high setting throughout the process. At first I thought the setting was too hot while I was heating the oil, but after the first doughnut burnt, I took the pan off the heat and let it cool, and then brought it back to temp on medium.

              Ernie Diamond - the dough was at room temperature, and was at no point stored in the fridge. I used a 3 1/2-inch diameter doughnut cutter, which I've also used previously.

              Emme - this is the link to the recipe, which has a cup of sugar, though I don't know exactly the proportion - I didn't weigh the dough.
              I've used it previously in a deep fryer and on a gas stove, so I was especially mystified.

              Thank you for all of your help on this, everyone!

              1 Reply
              1. re: mayfair1929

                here's a summary for something i found on electric stoves:

                Start heating the oil on HIGH; at about 100 degrees, lower the temperature one "button"; lower it again at about 200 degrees and wait until the temperature just reaches 375 degrees. This technique should allow you to maintain a cooking temperature of 350 to 375 degrees; you will need to occasionally raise or lower the temperature. If you allow the temperature to climb too quickly, it will go above 375 degrees, and be hard to lower, especially on an electric range.