Doughnuts defined

What is a doughnut?

A doughnut is a sweet deep-fried piece of dough or batter that is either yeast leavened (yeast-raised doughnuts) or chemically leavened (cake doughnuts).

A stack of sugar cinnamon donuts. Image copyright RVO 2010.

Is there a difference between a doughnut and a donut?

The word doughnut was first recorded in print in 1809 by American author Washington Irving; in his book ‘A History of New York’ he described them as “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks.”[1]

By 1900, the shortened form ‘donut’ appeared in ‘Peck’s Bad Boy and his Pa’ by George Peck, [2] and during the 1939 World’s Fair, a series of ‘National Donut Week’articles in The New York Times used both spellings.

Doughnuts, or donuts, are interchangeable spellings and refer to the one same thing: a sweet treat capable of evoking many happy memories of childhood and the old times. Nostalgia and doughnuts, seem to go hand in hand, so is fun and doughnuts.

Traditionally a fried ring sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, doughnuts are now available in many different shapes, sizes, fillings and toppings. Doughnuts are best enjoyed when warm and freshly cooked.

 Doughnut shapes

A donut filled with raspberry jam. Image copyright RVO 2010.

The two most common types are the ring donut and the ball donut, a flattened sphere injected with jam, cream, custard, or another sweet filling. A small spherical piece of dough, originally made from the middle of a ring doughnut, may be cooked as a doughnut hole.

Ring doughnuts are formed either by joining the ends of a long, skinny piece of dough into a ring or by using a doughnut cutter, which simultaneously cuts the outside and inside shape, leaving a doughnut-shaped piece of dough and a doughnut hole from dough removed from the centre. Alternatively, a doughnut depositor can be used to place a circle of liquid dough directly into the fryer.

Donuts with different toppings. Image copyright RVO 2010.

Doughnuts can be made from a yeast-based dough for raised doughnuts or a special type of cake batter. After being fried, ring doughnuts can be glazed, iced or sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon.

By changing plungers or dies, specialised doughnut shapes are possible, such as old-fashioned, star, French cruller, krinkle, ball, stick or Long Johns, crescent or dunkerette.

Donuts in all shapes and forms. Source:



1. “Doughnut”. Unabridged.: Random House, Inc. <;.

2. Peck, George W. (George Wilbur) Peck’s bad boy and his pa W. B. Conkey Co, Chicago, 1893.


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