There are reasons that freshly made doughnuts are more popular than ever: the techniques are straightforward, and the rewards are sweet. Tender, maple-glazed twists, delicately flavored with cardamom, make a great breakfast. But there's no wrong time of day for fried cake, whether it comes in the form of frosted chocolate doughnuts or lemon-poppy seed doughnut holes. Our guide to deep-frying (below) makes it simple to turn out treats that are equally delicious as coffee break, dessert, or a weekend brunch with the whole family.
Deep-frying is easily managed if you keep these guidelines in mind.
Make glaze and assemble tools before you begin frying. Never leave the fryer unattended.
Fry doughnuts in neutral-flavored oil such as canola or other vegetable oil. Use enough oil that doughnuts can float freely ― 4 inches deep is optimal. Don't reuse old oil to fry doughnuts, and don't pour it down the drain to discard. Instead, let oil cool completely, pour into a sealable container, and dispose of it in the trash.
Maintain a constant frying temperature of 375 degrees by using a deep-fryer that regulates oil temperature or a heavy, deep 5- to 6-quart pan and a frying thermometer. If the temperature is too low, doughnuts will absorb more oil and taste soggy and oily. If it's too high, they will brown before they cook through.
Remember that oil temperature changes slowly ― it may take several minutes to respond to an adjustment in the temperature of the burner. If the temperature drops below 375 degrees, wait until it climbs back up before adding the next batch of doughnuts. If oil gets too hot, lower heat and wait for temperature to drop.
Fry no more than two or three doughnuts at a time (or three or four holes) to allow enough oil to circulate and maintain the oil temperature.