The delectable fried dough cakes more commonly known as doughnuts are universally loved for so many reasons.
They’re delicious and easy to eat with one hand while holding your preferred coffee in the other. They’re also versatile, working perfectly as breakfast, a snack, or dessert. And since the (*sniff*) cancellation of all large gatherings in the U.S. — including our beloved state fairs — doughnuts are a comfort food that reminds us of the fun, happier times we miss.
But don’t despair. While the state fairs and food truck gatherings won’t be happening in summer 2020, that doesn’t mean your favorite sugary snack and all its finger-licking delight can’t still be a part of the season.
Here’s everything you need to know about making, topping off, and even upgrading your favorite carnival bites at home.
Here’s a rundown of the types of doughnuts traditionally found at state fairs (because resisting the sugary fried smell of fresh doughnuts is virtually impossible):
- Mini doughnuts: Covered in a heavy sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, these are classic and scrumptious in their simplicity.
- Filled doughnuts: Some doughnuts have their interiors amply filled with deliciousness such as fruit jelly, custard (a la Boston Cream doughnuts), vanilla cream, or whipped cream.
- International doughnuts: Filled doughnuts are faves around the globe. Italy’s zeppole is filled with custard, ricotta, and jelly, while Poland’s pączki and Germany’s Berliner stick to custard. Then, Spain blessed us with the sugary stick goodness that is a churro, and France gave us those braided-looking doughnuts called crullers.
- Kool-Aid doughnut drops: If you’re a county fair frequenter, you’ve likely indulged in these deep-fried, cherry-flavored doughnut bombs dusted in powdered sugar.
Sometimes, the moment calls for a simple yummy glazed doughnut with rainbow sprinkles. But when life gives you a blank doughnut slate and invites you to get visionary, why not indulge creatively?
The sky’s the limit when it comes to doughnut-glaze-topping combos, but here’s some wildly delectable inspo that might give you cavities just from thinking about it:
- Vanilla frosting and crushed Oreo or chocolate chip cookies sprinkled on top of a doughnut: It’s like three desserts at once.
- Can’t decide between salty and sweet? Satisfy both with dulce de leche and crushed pretzels or maple syrup drizzle and bacon bits.
- It’s OK to spread Biscoff cookie butter all over your doughnut if you top it off with the healthy fats of crushed walnuts and granola. It’s called balance.
- Up your breakfast game with a slather of Marshmallow Fluff and some nostalgic cereal from your childhood — Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charms, Cap’n Crunch, or Froot Loops.
- If you’re down to go totally overboard, make a doughnut ice cream sundae (because social distancing is hard and you deserve it): Add a scoop of your favorite ice cream flavor to the doughnut hole and pile on the whipped cream, chocolate drizzle, and sprinkles. Finish with a cherry on top and grab a spoon.
- Marshmallow Fluff, chocolate ganache, crushed graham crackers, and a roasted marshmallow in the hole — we’ll have s’more doughnuts, please and thank you.
Fact: Doughnuts by themselves are fantastic. But why stop there when you can construct an all-out meal betwixt two halves of a pastry?
A doughnut sandwich is pretty much what it sounds like: Swap out the boring bread for a sliced glazed doughnut with the middle full of whatever sweet or savory concoction your heart desires.
Your taste buds and arteries will duke it out over what “good for you” means in the context of these recipes, but you’ll definitely get points for doing what’s “good to you.”
- Doughnuts make every breakfast a sweet one, so add some savoriness and make it a complete breakfast sandwich with eggs, bacon, hot sauce, cheese, and breakfast sausage.
- Grilled cheese doughnut sandwiches: They’re a thing you should have in your life. Try one with American cheese with some ham. You’re welcome.
- The Monte Cristo doughnut sandwich, which consists of deli turkey and ham, Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, and sometimes red jelly, is a New Orleans staple (District is known for its rendition).
- The doughnut chicken sandwich is actually a menu item at KFC that uses two full doughnuts as the sides of the sammie. If you’re seeking comfort food, it’s easy to DIY by frying up chicken fillets at home.
- The Luther Burger is essentially a cheeseburger with the bun replaced by griddled doughnut halves. Legend has it the concoction was named for the late singer Luther Vandross, who loved it.
- A fresh lobster roll is quintessential summer fare. You can make it even sweeter by creating a doughnut lobster roll.
If you’re among the many who have earned their expert baker badge while cooped up at home, now’s as good a time as any to try your hand at DIY doughnuts. Obtain peak sugar coma in one, two, three:
1. Time to make the doughnuts. This seven-step recipe is straightforward and produces tasty results. Many of the main ingredients are likely already in your kitchen (whole milk, sugar, flour, butter, salt, eggs, vanilla extract, canola oil, and dry yeast). No sweat if you don’t own a doughnut cutter (who does?) — biscuit cutters will do the trick. Use a 3-inch cutter for the actual doughnut and a 1-inch cutter for the hole.
2. Choose a sticky glaze. Your doughnut glaze has two purposes: One, it’s yummy, and two, it serves as edible glue to make your topping adhere. You can make a simple glaze by whisking milk, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract until smooth. Dip your doughnuts in after you fry ’em up and bake ’em. But really, anything sticky and sugary makes for a good glaze, like:
- Marshmallow Fluff
- peanut butter
- dulce de leche
- maple syrup
3. Go wild with toppings! What constitutes a doughnut topping? Let’s rephrase: What doesn’t constitute a doughnut topping? Once you glaze up your doughnuts, you can add whatever sweet or savory embellishments you’re craving. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- breakfast cereal
- sliced fruit
- crushed cookies
- fudge drizzle
- bacon bits
- ice cream
Fellow doughnut enthusiasts who are somewhat sad about our limited social activity but no less sweet-toothed, take solace in knowing that this heavenly pastry has no limits.
The doughnut possibilities are just as plentiful as your creativity and appetite will allow. So, stay creative and stay hungry. We’ll get through this, and we’ll get through it with doughnuts!
Brooke Sager is a freelance writer who shares her musings on wine, wellness, beauty, relationships, and all-things lifestyle.