Principles of Good Doughnut Production

Cake doughnuts are unique among all bakery products since they are produced by depositing a fluid batter directly into a very hot, fluid frying medium. The final shape of the doughnut is in no way controlled by any external influence but determined by the formula, precise scaling of ingredients, consistent ingredient quality, frying fat quality, and effective process controls. Adequate control of all these parameters is probably more critical for cake doughnuts than for any other product produced in the bakery.[1]  

Controls are equally important with yeast-raised doughnuts where factors such as yeast quantity, dough temperature, mixing time, floor time and proving time affect final doughnut quality.  

Important factors in making good doughnuts

In the book “Food Oils and Fats: Technology, Utilization and Nutrition by H Lawson”, Lawson listed the following factors in making good doughnuts:

(Please note that the temperatures in this article were different from the book’s recommendations; the temperatures indicated below have been adjusted to suit Australian conditions. Ingredient amount, time and temperature will vary depending on formulation. Consult your ingredients supplier and equipment manufacturer for exact instructions.)  

1. Good prepared mixes   

Select a mix from a reputable manufacturer and select one of good quality.[2] 

2. Correct water levels   

It is important to observe the correct quantity of water added to the mix to get the proper dough consistency. If the dough has too much water, the doughnuts appear distorted, produce large holes, and absorb more oil. If the dough is too stiff, it results in thick crust, rough, broken surface on one side and excessive absorption of oil in cracks.[2] 

3. Proper dough handling and mixing   

Mixing times depend on the richness of the dough, type of flour, and temperature of the dough. An undermixed dough will result in excessive absorption, coarse texture and irregular shape. An overmixed dough will produce doughnuts with large holes, tight grain and texture, excessive absorption, and a knobby irregular surface.[2] 

4. Proper makeup before frying   

Cake doughnuts   

After adding the right amount of water and correct mixing, the batter (recommended dough temperature 24 °C) should be given a rest period (floor time) of 10-15 min before cutting out into fryer.[3]  The rest period allows the batter to continue to hydrate and the leavening to continue aerating the batter.[1]  

Yeast-raised doughnuts   

Dissolve the yeast in the water, combine all dry ingredients together (including the shortening), gradually add water while mixing at medium speed.[2] 

It is important to observe the optimum dough temperature (28 °C). Give the dough 10 mins floor time.[3] 

Knock back dough and portion and cut dough into approximately 2 kg pieces. Shape into round balls until soft and a smooth surface is achieved, to eliminate air pockets and develop a uniform tension in the dough. Cover with a dry cloth for intermediate proofing (ambient conditions, 15-20 mins). This particular step varies with the type of mix used, for example, when using “no-time” (fermentation eliminated) yeast-raised donut mix. Refer to your supplier for directions.     

       Rolling/sheeting and cutting yeast-raised doughnuts  

Dough is rolled out by hand or fed into a series of sheeters to reduce thickness. The doughnuts can be extruded by air pressure or by a vacuum-extrusion system and then deposited onto automatic proofer trays (eliminating manual handling, common for automated donut production systems), cut out by cutters over the sheet of dough, or cut out by hand.[2] 

      Proofing yeast-raised doughnuts   

The doughnuts should be proofed a little on the “young” side. Twenty minutes is usually sufficient proofing time. Overproofed doughnuts are poor in appearance, lack full flavour, and show increased fat absorption during frying.[2] 

Proof box should be 35 °C to 37.8 °C, with sufficient humidity to prevent crusting. When touched, a properly proofed donut will hold an indentation without collapsing. If the indentation returns to the surface, the donut is underproofed. If the donut collapses when touched, it is overproofed.[4] 

5. Proper frying   

Cake doughnuts   

Doughnut batter in depositor

Cake doughnut batter is pushed through a handheld or a mechanical depositor, where the doughnut shape is produced by the type of plunger or attachment used. Plunger shapes can be plain, star, french cruller, krinkle, old-fashioned, ball, stick, or if using attachments, crescent or dunkerrete. 

Set the fryer to 190°C with clean frying oil and a frying depth of 5 to 8cm. Fill the depositor with batter and check the drop weight. An average weight is 40g per drop. Transfer batter to machine or hand dropper and drop from 2.5 to 4cm into frying oil at 190°C. Allow donuts to rise to the surface of the oil for 30 – 40 seconds and flip over for another 30 – 40 seconds. [3] 

Frying at lower temperatures does not seal the surface rapidly enough, and excessive absorption results. Temperatures above those levels prevent proper expansion and may produce soggy interiors.[2] 

Yeast-raised doughnuts   

Yeast-raised donuts in fryer

Yeast raised doughnuts should be fried at 180°C [3]. The basic principles of correctly frying yeast-raised doughnuts are similar to the principles applied to cake doughnuts, except that yeast doughnuts are generally fried at at a lower temperature for a somewhat longer time.[2]   

6. Proper care of shortening   

Particles that accumulate in the fryer should be removed otherwise the oil will smoke, and can also result in excessive colour darkening, oxidation and development of free fatty acids.[2] 

7. Proper finishing   

Cake doughnuts   

Transfer the cooked donuts to a draining tray and allow to drain for a minute or two before rolling in cinnamon sugar. Allow to cool further if applying icing or other decoration [3].  

Yeast-raised doughnuts should be glazed hot, immediately out of the fryer. The doughnuts are conveyed through the glaze at about 38°C. Using wire screens, the doughnuts go through the glaze and held on the screens until the glaze drains and sets up.[2]   

Yeast-raised doughnuts going through the glaze

Related Article:

Donuts Flowchart


For more information about donut machines (fryers, donut production systems, Thermoglaze system, accessories) contact RVO Enterprises at 02 9740 5122, send an email to, or enquire through RVO Info Central by sending your comment at the bottom of this article.


1. Whillyard, M., Formulation of Cake Doughnuts (An Update). AIB Research Department Technical Bulletin, 2002. XXIV(9).  

2. Lawson, H., Food Oils and Fats, Technology, Utilization and Nutrition. 1995: Chapman & Hall.   

3. Laucke Flour Mills premix recommendations  

4. How do I produce yeast-raised donuts? (Copyright © 1993 Dawn Food Products, Inc.) 


Recommended further reading:  

Donuts Hints and Tips (Goodman Fielder Food Services)
Recommendations and troubleshooting donut production problems   

Cake Donut Premix (Laucke Flour Mills)
Method of using cake donut premix and troubleshooting problems  

Yeast-raised Donut Premix (Laucke Flour Mills)
Method of using yeast-raised donut premix  

Frequently Asked Questions – Doughnuts (AIB Online)   

Troubleshooting Cake Donuts (Belshaw)
Cake Donut Basics, How do I produce yeast-raised donuts? and Troubleshooting Cake Donuts   

Troubleshooting Guides (Dawn Food Products)
Something not working quite right? Troubleshooting cake donuts, yeast-raised donuts, donut glaze, donut icing presented in table form (problems/possible causes) by Dawn Food Products.   

Technical Bulletins at American Institute of Baking website
(requires subscription to technical bulletins online to access full text of documents)   

Stay abreast of all aspects of baking and allied industries with bulletins published by AIB’s Research Department staff and guest contributors. Technical bulletins on doughnuts include cake doughnuts formulation, processing, frying fat, coating sugar, and technology of yeast-raised doughnuts.


One Response to Principles of Good Doughnut Production

  1. Pingback: What is the difference between a cake donut and a yeast-raised donut? « RVO Info Central

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s