Doughnuts are a rare treat in our house, so when we make them, it’s a family affair. I love the cinnamon and orange scented dough, and just a touch of sweetness from the chocolate hazelnut Nutella – it’s a little bite of delight, for sure.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attatchment, stir together the yeast and milk on low speed for about 3 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange zest and add it to the milk with yeast. Mix until it is just combined. Add the egg and vanilla and mix for a few seconds, then add the butter, mixing thoroughly. Increase the mixer speed to medium speed and let it mix for about 4-6 minutes until it become a ball. The dough will be smooth and tacky.
Take the dough out of the mxing bowl and work it into a ball. Place in a large greased bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise in warm spot until it is nearly triple in size. How long it takes to rise will depend on the environment – I found that it took me about 1 hour, but it may be less or more for you, so plan accordingly! The dough should still be springy when you press it with your finger. If not, give it more time. And if it collapses then you may have proofed too long.
Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently roll the dough with a rolling pin to about 1/2 inch thick. If you find that the dough is hard to work with, pop it in the refrigerator for a bit to firm up a bit. Cut the dough using 2 inch rounds.
Heat oil in a deep fryer or skillet to 350 degrees F. Stir together cinnamon and sugar in a bowl and set aside. Drop in the doughnuts, working in batches. Fry for about 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the doughnuts onto a tray lined with paper towels, then drop them while still hot into cinnamon sugar. Poke a hole into the doughnut and continue until all doughnuts are cooked.
Before serving, pipe in a little bit of Nutella into the doughnuts using a pastry bag and tip. Serve immediately.
Dough adapted from Basic Berliner, Glazed, Filled, Sugared & Dipped, by Stephen Collucci (Clarkson Potter, 2013).
How to Make Mini Doughnuts FAQs/Tips
Can I use all-purpose flour in place of bread flour? The short answer is yes, you can. Bread flour gives the doughnuts more structure and is ideal, but I have also made it with all all-purpose flour. If you find that the dough feels very loose, you may have to use a little more all-purpose flour when you roll it out.
How many times can I re-roll my dough? I would recommend that you only gather scraps and re-roll 1 time. The more you handle the dough, the denser they will become, so ideally, roll and cut just once!
What kind of oil should I use to fry? Doughnuts are best made with an oil that has a neutral flavor and high smoke point (which means it can handle high heat). Typically, peanut oil and grapeseed oil work best. However, I have made this with a very high quality olive oil (such as Cobram Estate) and find that the delicate flavor made my favorite version.
How much oil should I use? If you're using a deep fryer, follow the instructions for your appliance. If you're using a small Dutch oven or deep skillet, err on the side of more than less, meaning, do not shallow fry the doughnuts. They do best when there is ample oil so that the temperature is maintained better and more of the doughnut makes contact with the oil.
My dough feels very loose and is hard to work with. When this happens, pop it into the refrigerator for a quick chill. This will help give the dough some structure.
How do I store and reheat donuts? Ideally, eat them fresh! But if you have leftovers, freeze the fried doughnuts after they have fully cooled in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer to an airtight container. When you're ready to reheat them, pop them in a 300°F oven for about 10 minutes, or until hot and crispy.