These are true homemade Sourdough Donuts, made without any commercial yeast. A slow fermentation gives these donuts a spectacular flavor and texture. They’re like no donuts you’ve ever tasted.
It’s official, you guys – these are my favorite donuts ever! I mean, who doesn’t love a good donut? What’s your favorite donut style; cake or yeast? Some folks like the cake style donuts and, sure, they’re tasty. But, me? I’m partial to the airy/chewy texture of a good yeast donut.
What makes Sourdough Donuts taste so good?
Making donuts with the natural yeast of a sourdough starter takes them into another stratosphere. Seriously, these donuts are GOOD. The starter gives the donuts a special chewy texture and deep flavor.
I’ve been mulling over the idea of a sourdough donut for a while now. Being a huge baking geek, I’m always thinking of the possibilities beyond bread-baking for my Beer-Mash Starter. I just knew that sourdough starter would be a great base for a yeast donut–if I could create a well-balanced recipe.
How I created this Homemade Donut Recipe:
To create this recipe I looked to my Whole Grain Sourdough Waffle recipe and my Rhubarb Fritters. I wanted a donut with a texture somewhere between those two; the open crumb and chewy texture of the waffle, with the sweet, spicy, enriched flavor of the fritter.
Because the starter doesn’t get a boost with commercial yeast, the recipe is a 2 day process. Don’t worry though, the vast majority of time is hands-off.
About working with Sourdough Starter:
A night in the refrigerator is essential for the flavor and texture of the dough. Also, since this is a fairly sticky dough, it’s much easier to roll and cut while it’s still cold from the refrigerator.
If you don’t have a starter you can either make one or you can buy pre-made starter that’s ready to use. If you have a friend who has an active starter, ask them for a little of it.
King Arthur is one of my favorite baking websites and they have whole lot of information about how to make your own starter. Once you have a sourdough starter in your kitchen, as long as you either use it or feed it on a regular basis it can, theoretically, live forever.
So, back to these fabulous donuts. A long kneading time and two-day fermentation allows the dough to retain lots of air without collapsing. You’ll see a great “poof” when you drop the donuts into the fryer.
Even though these donuts are really big, they’re light and airy and not at all heavy or greasy (and, seriously, what sane person is going to complain that a donut is too big?). A roll in cinnamon sugar gives these babies a perfectly crunchy bite.
I bake a lot, really way too much for two people to eat. I don’t need to crave sweets since they’re always around. But I have actually caught myself dreamily remembering the crunchy bite and lightly chewy texture of these Sourdough Donuts.
I can’t wait to make them again. They’re totally worth the time and effort–and calories. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to jump on the elliptical…
Watch the recipe video to see how-to make true Sourdough Donuts.
- 1 cup (8 oz, 235 ml) whole milk, warmed to about 120°F (slightly warmer than body temp)
- 1 large egg (room temp)
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz, 55g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup (235 ml) sourdough starter (see note)
- 3.5 cups (18 oz, 510g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (4oz, 115g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- Cinnamon Sugar for coating
Make the dough (day 1)
- Combine the warm milk, butter and egg with the starter in a mixer bowl. With the mixer running, add sugar, spices, salt and 2.5 cups of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour (amount of flour may vary based on the hydration of your starter, see note). The dough will start out quite sticky. Knead on medium low speed for 15 minutes (speed 2 on my stand mixer) until the dough clings to the hook and clears the sides of the bowl.
- Scrape the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover and set the dough aside at room temperature for 4-5 hours.
- Every hour repeat the following procedure: Uncover the bowl, lift one edge of the dough over into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. Cover the bowl and set aside. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Make the Donuts (day 2)
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator. While the dough is still cold, without kneading, roll to 1/2" thick on a lightly floured surface.
- Use a 4" round cutter to cut donuts. Use a 1.5" cutter to cut center hole. Line the donuts on a well-oiled, parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, leaving space between the donuts for the dough to rise (I used 2 baking sheets). Reroll the scraps of dough and continue cutting donuts until all the dough is used up. Brush the tops of the donuts lightly with oil.
- Cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. The donuts are ready when you poke the dough and the dent slowly fills in. If the dough bounces right back it's not quite ready. This rise should take about 1 1/2 hours. The time will vary based on the temperature of the room.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of oil to 350°F in a large Dutch oven. Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy.
- As you take each donut out of the oil, immediately roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat the entire donut. Set on a cooling rack while you fry the rest of the donuts.
- Best eaten warm or within a couple of hours of frying.
My starter is replenished with equal volume of water and flour (e.g. 1/2 cup water & 1/2 cup flour). That makes my starter 166% hydration. It is the texture of pancake batter. You might need to adjust the amount of flour used in the recipe based on the hydration of your starter.
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