Easy yeast donuts

Yeast cakes (also called raised cakes) should be light and airy, with a flexible chew – adding milk, egg yolk and butter keeps the dough soft. Donuts are delicious as is (preferably warm) or chilled and dipped in powdered sugar. Use this master recipe as the basis for Glazed Donuts, Jelly Donuts, Boston Cream Donuts, and Apple Fritters.

What to buy: Bread flour, ideal for yeast bread, is an unbleached, high-gluten blend of mostly durum winter wheat. It is available in many supermarkets.

special equipment: You will need a donut cutter or a soft-sided cookie cutter for this recipe.

Check out our beginner’s guide to baking with yeast for more tips. And for more recipe ideas, check out all of the Chowhound Donut recipes.

  • fruit: About 12 donuts, plus 12 donut holes
  • difficulty: easy
  • the total: 50 minutes, plus 1 hour 15 minutes to get up
  • Energetic: 20 minutes

Ingredients (9)

  • 2 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 sachet (2 1/4 teaspoon) instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup whole milk, warm to 105°F to 115°F
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoons (half stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • vegetable oil for frying


  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, and salt. Add warm milk, vanilla and egg yolks. Mix until smooth. Add the remaining flour and butter and mix until combined. Continue mixing on medium speed until the dough is soft and smooth (it will be a little sticky). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a draft-free location to rise for 1 hour, or refrigerate for up to 12 hours.
  2. Flour 2 baking sheets. Roll out the dough on a surface lightly floured and cut with a floured donut cutter or 3 1/2-inch cookie cutter (for the latter, you’ll also need a 1-1/2-inch cookie cutter to make donut holes). Throw out the scraps of dough or cut them into pieces to fry separately after the cakes are done as snacks.
  3. Place the donuts and the donut holes at least an inch apart on a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place to rise a second time until puffed and nearly double in size, about 15 to 30 minutes. The donut is ready when the dough slowly comes back after touching it with the tip of a finger (if it comes back up once, it needs more time; if it collapses, it’s too resistant and you can re-roll and cut the dough once).
  4. While the donuts are rising, fill a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan with at least 2 inches of oil (the oil should be no more than half the length of the sides of the pan). Heat over medium-high heat until deep frying thermometer registers 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a spoon, lower a few cakes into the oil; Do not crowd the pot. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, flipping a few times, until the buns are light golden brown and cooked through. Remove with a spider or slotted spoon, then drain on a wire rack over a paper towel, and let cool slightly before glazing or tossing in the sugar. Repeat the process with the rest of the donuts and the donut holes. Make sure to maintain a constant temperature while frying.
  5. Serve the cookies as they are (warm is best), dipped in powdered sugar when cool or glazed.

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