Typically, Zach Patton and Clay Dunn eat oatmeal or a protein shake for breakfast. But sometimes the Adams Morgan couple crave something less virtuous. So they whip up some doughnuts. “They’re a special treat,” says Patton, 31, who writes the blog The Bitten Word with Dunn. “I’d rather have a doughnut than a cupcake. They’re comforting.”

The pastries’ homey appeal (plus Homer Simpson’s endorsement) keeps people reaching for the dessert-like breakfast food, even though folks such as the first Llady and your doctor would like for you to step away from the Dunkin’ Donuts bag. But a growing DIY doughnut trend might redeem the calorie bombs, at least a little.

“Make doughnuts at home, and you know exactly what’s in them,” says Anne Haerle, corporate chef at Sur La Table, which sells pans, mixes and other doughnut-making supplies. “You know there are no preservatives. You can control how much of an indulgence you’re going to have.”

And concocting your own bear claws or Bavarian creams is easier than you might think, depending on whether you bake or fry them. Baked doughnuts prove good for beginners, and when the recipe doesn’t call for yeast, the process can be as simple as mixing a dough, pouring it into a pan, and putting it into the oven.

But if you’re expecting your creation to create rings rivaling those at Krispy Kreme, get frying. Dunn and Patton were nonplussed when they baked sweet potato doughnuts. “They were more like a bagel than a doughnut,” says Dunn, 32. “Bread doused in cinnamon and sugar is really good, but it didn’t taste like doughnuts.” They’ve vowed to deep-fry next.

“Fried doughnuts involve more technique,” Haerle says. “You’re using yeast dough, working with it, letting it rise. Then you get that light, crispy, warm deliciousness.”

Still, frying won’t result in burns or a house that smells like McDonald’s. “When people think of frying, they think of spattering, but that only happens when water gets into the hot oil,” says Lara Ferroni, author of “Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home” ($17, Sasquatch). “Monitor the oil temperature — don’t let it smoke.”

Another plus: A homemade doughnut is a blank canvas for your favorite flavors. “As long as you have a great textured doughnut that isn’t greasy, the topping possibilities are endless,” says Tiffany MacIsaac, pastry chef at Birch & Barley (1337 14th St. NW; 202-567-2576), which fries more than 300 doughnuts every Sunday at brunch. “I often glaze them in a mixture of powdered sugar and a fresh juice like lime or passion fruit.”

No matter what tempts you, enjoying a doughnut now and then is perfectly OK. “It’s a basic cravings that’s part of human nature,” Ferroni says.

Recipe File: Baked Cake Donuts
Cake doughnuts are fried, not baked, at your local doughnut shop. But this recipe bakes up just as deliciously, and cleanup is far easier, not to mention a bit less guilt-inducing. This batter also bakes up beautifully in an electric doughnut maker. Prep time: 15 minutes. Ready in 30 minutes.

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon
all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter or vegetable shortening
1/4 cup whole milk, scalded
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
Makes 6 to 12 doughnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a doughnut pan.

Sift flours and baking powder together into a large bowl or bowl of a mixer. Whisk in sugar, nutmeg and salt. Add butter and use your fingers to rub it into the dry ingredients as you would in a pastry crust, until evenly distributed. Add milk, yogurt, vanilla and egg; stir until just combined. Do not over-mix.

Use a spoon to fill each doughnut cup about three-quarters full, making sure center post is clear. Bake until doughnuts are a light golden brown and spring back when touched, six to 10 minutes. Let cool slightly before removing from pan. Glaze as desired.

Note: For the proper doughnut shape when baking cake doughnuts, you need a doughnut pan with a rounded bottom and a post through the middle. Baking them on a flat baking sheet will result in flat-bottomed half-doughnuts. If you don’t have a doughnut pan, you can make the same batter and bake it in a muffin tin for doughnut-flavored muffins. doughnuts: simple and delicious recipes to make at home.


A little bit of graham flour makes these doughnuts a bit nuttier and helps them fry up with a wonderfully crisp, nubby crust. However, feel free to replace the graham flour with all-purpose for a more traditional apple cider doughnut.

Makes 10 to 14 doughnuts
Active time: 15 minutes | Ready in: 40 minutes
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup graham flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter or vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (120 grams) superfine sugar
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup apple cider
1/4 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil for frying

Whisk together the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg yolks and beat until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the vanilla, cider, and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until the mixture comes together to create a soft, slightly sticky dough. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch thick, then cut out the doughnuts using a 2 1/2-inch-diameter cutter. You can reroll any scrap dough.
Heat at least 2 inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot until a deep-fat thermometer registers 360˚F. With a metal spatula, carefully place the doughnuts in the oil. Fry in small batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pot. Cook until a rich golden brown, about 1 minute on each side. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Let cool to the touch before glazing and eating.

You can also bake these doughnuts in a doughnut pan (in a 350˚F oven for 5 to 10 minutes), but you won’t achieve the same rich golden color.

Written by Express contributor Beth Luberecki