For as long as I can remember, doughnuts have punctuated my life: from early memories of cloyingly sweet pineapple doughnuts at the school tuckshop, hot jam doughnuts from the roadside van that burned the roof of your mouth, through to elegant French beignets, fabulous German berliners and delicious, custard filled Italian bomboloni during recent travels in Europe.

As I’ve grown up, my tastes may have changed, but I still enjoy doughnuts.

However, they have an unhealthy reputation. Deep fried and full of the bad fats, not to mention loads of sugary icing, they have always been a guilty pleasure.

Luckily, they’re easy to make, and with a few tips, your homemade doughnuts will have a healthier edge.

I recommend using rice bran oil in the deep fryer. It is a healthy oil with a high smoke point, contains vitamins, antioxidants, and is trans fat free.

I have included a simple recipe for mini jam doughnuts: the small size will ensure the middle is cooked. Fill these with a beautiful homemade jam.

For the Italian potato doughnuts, you need to use Ranger russet potatoes, which have a low moisture content. The texture is light and not too sweet: definitely my favourite.

As for the Spanish churros, these are quick and simple to make. The chocolate dipping sauce is optional, but delicious. And we all know that dark chocolate is good for us. And the best thing about making your own doughnuts is that they are created with care. These little gems are a taste of nostalgia, and the more delicious for it.

Italian potato doughnuts

Based on an Italian recipe for potato doughnuts, I first tried these at the Dog’s Bar in St. Kilda. Although they were meant for the customers, I think the staff (me included) ate the lot!

½ (half) cup milk

2 tsp dry yeast

500g  baking potatoes, like Ranger Russets, peeled and cut into chunks

2 eggs

3 ½ (three and a half) cups plain flour

2 tbsp sugar

¼ (quarter) cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 orange, zested and juiced

2 lt rice bran oil for deep frying

3 tbsp lemon juice

150g icing sugar

In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat until warm. Add the yeast to the milk and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with water and bring to the boil, cooking until tender. Drain and pass through a food mill or ricer and place in a large bowl. Add the eggs, flour, sugar, 1/4 (quarter) cup oil, juice, and zest of orange and mix well to combine. Add the yeast mixture and knead well, adding more flour if necessary to keep the batter from becoming too sticky. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured bench to approximately 2 cm thickness.

Use an 8cm round cutter to cut the doughnut shapes.  Cut a small hole in the middle of each doughnut with a small cutter, or simply poke through a hole with your thumb. Re roll the doughnut off-cuts to use up the remaining dough. Place the doughnuts on a baking paper lined tray, cover with non-stick baking paper and a clean tea towel and let rise for another 15 minutes.

Heat oil in deep fryer to 190C.

Working in batches, fry the doughnuts until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning over halfway through. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a plate lined with paper towels.

Make the lemon icing by mixing the lemon juice with icing sugar in a shallow bowl to a runny consistency.

Dip the doughnuts in the icing, then serve.

Makes 12-14 doughnuts.

Mini hot jam doughnuts

The classic Australian doughnut, these are delicious eaten warm; just like the doughnut van, only better.

125ml milk

15g unsalted butter

250g strong flour

1 ½ (one and a half) tsp instant yeast

¼ tsp salt

25g caster sugar

1 egg

2 lt rice bran oil for deep frying

granulated sugar for rolling the doughnuts

½ (half) cup raspberry jam

Warm milk and butter together in a saucepan, taking it off the heat when the butter is melting. Put flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a bowl. Beat egg into warmed milk and pour into bowl of dry ingredients. Use a dough hook or your hands, knead the dough until it is smooth and silky, about 10 minutes by hand.

Place in a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, between 1-2 hours.

Punch the dough down and knead again to make a smooth dough. Cut in half and roll into two x 25cm long logs. Cut each log into 12 pieces, roll these into rough balls and place on a baking paper lined tray. Cover loosely and allow to rise for a further 15 minutes.

Heat oil in deep fryer to 190C.

Cook the doughnuts, a few at a time, for 5 minutes, flipping over halfway so they brown evenly.

Remove and drain on paper towel, then roll in sugar to coat. Place jam in a piping bag with a small nozzle (or use a sauce bottle with plastic nozzle) and pipe a small amount of jam into the centre of the doughnuts.

Makes 24.


Churros, or Spanish donuts, are a breakfast favorite in Spain. They are deep

fried strips of dough, served hot and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and then

dunked into a cup of thick sweet chocolate.

The name is said to come from its shape, which resembles the horns of the

churro breed of sheep.

1 cup plain flour

¼ (quarter) tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 tsp caster sugar

1 cup water

1 tbsp olive oil

500ml rice bran oil for shallow frying

¾ (three quarters) cup caster sugar

1 tsp cinnamon powder

Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a bowl.

Bring a cup of water to the boil and add the olive oil. Pour the liquid over

the dry ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Pour the oil into a shallow frypan and heat to 170C.(If you don’t have a thermometer you can test the temperature by frying a small piece of bread – it should turn golden within a minute).

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a large star nozzle.

Pipe  lengths of dough into the hot oil, using a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to cut off each length as you go. Fry in batches for 3 or 4 minutes, turning halfway, until they are golden brown.

Drain of paper towel.

Mix caster sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl. Roll the churros in the cinnamon sugar and serve with hot chocolate.

Makes 12-14.


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