Secrets of Making Donuts (The Chemistry of Donuts)

The chemistry of donuts involves complex reactions between proteins and carbohydrates that come together to create a unique type of delicious round pastry loved by everyone. But first, let’s explore the history of donuts.

History of Donuts:

The history of donuts is fascinating and spans several centuries. It is believed that the concept originated in ancient civilizations where the ancient Greeks made a similar sweet called “olykoeks,” which is dough fried in oil and then dipped in honey. It is said that the modern donuts we know today were brought to America by Dutch settlers, who called them “olykoeks,” meaning oil cakes. In the 19th century, olykoeks underwent various changes, and a young sailor named Hanson Gregory made a hole in the center of the olykoeks to create a ring shape. This innovation allowed the donuts to cook more evenly and faster. He also added ingredients such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon peel, and the term “donut” began to emerge.

Secrets of Making Donuts:



Butter plays an important role in making donuts because it contains fats and compounds that contribute to a rich and distinctive flavor. It also helps give the dough a tender and fluffy texture due to the fats that blend to form a thin layer around the flour granules. Additionally, it interacts with water, keeping the donuts moist after frying.


Eggs act as a binding agent for the ingredients as they contain fats and water, which are key components that provide moisture and softness to the dough. They also help in leavening the dough and giving it a fluffy texture due to the proteins that connect and form a structural network that retains gases. Eggs also add a rich and distinctive flavor and an attractive color to the donuts when fried.


Milk is a basic ingredient in making donuts, preferably full-fat milk, as it contains natural sugars that help activate the yeast. It also adds moisture and a rich flavor to the donuts.


Yeast plays a crucial role in the success of the donut dough as it is responsible for leavening the dough and giving it shape and texture. It is essential to ensure its effectiveness before use.


Sugar plays a significant role in feeding the yeast and increasing its activity. It also absorbs and retains moisture in the donuts, adds a sweet taste, and enhances the added flavors. Sugar gives the donuts a beautiful golden color when fried and creates a crispy outer layer.


Kneading is one of the most critical steps in making donuts. During this stage, all the essential ingredients are combined to form the dough. It is necessary to knead the dough well for at least ten minutes to achieve a smooth and successful dough from the first attempt.


Fermentation is one of the most important stages determining the success of the donut dough and occurs in two phases. In the first phase, after kneading the dough well, transfer it to a greased bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it sit in a warm place away from drafts until it doubles in size, about one to one and a half hours, depending on the room temperature. In the second phase, after shaping the donuts, let them rise again until they double in size for at least half an hour to ensure successful donuts after frying.


50% of the success of donuts depends on the frying technique and heating the oil. Heat the oil to a temperature slightly below medium, about 160 degrees Celsius, and then gently start frying the donut pieces, avoiding frying a large quantity at once to prevent the oil from cooling down and being absorbed by the donuts, making them sponge-like. Use high-quality vegetable oil with a high smoke point, such as canola oil.

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