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Yeast Risen Donuts - Problems with rising

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hello Everyone,

I have been making donuts at home and we have been getting some rave reviews except for one thing everyone is telling us that they need to be lighter. Right now they are a cross between a cake donut and yeast donut.

I am trying to figure out how to make the donuts lighter. I am using 2 pkgs of active dry yeast and I am activating it with 1/4 water between 105 and 115 degrees plus I am adding 2 tsp of sugar.

I then mix all of my ingrediants and then let it proof for about 2 hours.

I then cut the donuts and then let them proof for about another hour.

They are huge when done proofing but they are still kind of cakey.

I am trying to perfect my recipie now since I am moving to St Croix USVI next summer and opening a donut and hot dog stand.

I have the glazes down packed. Someone also suggested getting a mix from places like Dawn food products. The problem with that is the shipping.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 19
What type flour are you using? Also proably help if you posted the recipe.

Rgds Rook
post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for not helping

Well I am determined to make this work. As the donuts are now I have people offering to pay for them. I have also sent some samples to St Croix and had good reviews.

I have had many nah sayers but I will make this succeed.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 

Here is the recipie I am using - I am using all purpose flour

2 package envelopes active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water 105 to 115 degrees
1 1/2 cups Warm Milk lukewarm
1/2 cup White sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Eggs
1/3 cup Shortening
5 cups All purpose flour
1 quart Vegetable oil for Frying
1 teaspoon Vanilla

1. Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and let stand for 5 minutes, or until foamy.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

NOTE: While you are preparing the dough. Turn your oven to 200 degrees for 1 minute, then turn off the oven. Then open the door.

Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Making sure that the oven is off. Set in oven to rise until double. Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains.

3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured doughnut cutter. Let doughnuts sit out to rise again until double. Cover loosely with a cloth.

4. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy skillet to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil, to drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a cookie sheet or tray under racks for easier clean up.
post #5 of 19
Like your attitude. Good Luck..

Oh I had you post that recipe because who ever knows more about this than I do will ask about it. I work in a bakery but unfortunately all our donuts come in frozen all we have to do is proof them and fry them.
post #6 of 19

Try using non self-rising cake flour.

Instead of:
5 cups All purpose flour

5 1/2 cups + 2 Tablespoons non self-rising cake flour (sifted)

It also sounds like you are over mixing quite a bit developing too much gluten which causes a tough dough. Here is how I would amend your recipe above:

2. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, shortening, and 2 cups of the flour. Stir on low or with wooden spoon just until combined. Beat in remaining flour 1/3 at a time, stir just to combine. Do not over mix. The dough should be very soft and just dry enough to roll.

I see absolutely no need for this step, it is unnecessary and causing the end product to be tough:
Knead for about 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.

While yeast does prefer a warm environment, I'd be cautious about it being too warm. Some of the best artisanal bakeries raise their doughs in a cool temps, allowing for a slow rise which really allows the flavors to develop from the yeast. While this might not be as much a factor with doughnuts, it could be interesting to experiment making identical doughs and allowing one to rise warm, and one to rise cool. Then seeing what and if there is a difference in flavor and/or texture. The recipe also says to grease the bowl, not the dough. I'm not sure how wet the dough is without trying it myself. But it's always best to make sure the top of the dough is oiled so the exterior doesn't seal and inhibit the still growing yeast beneath.

If you try this, let us know how it turns out.
post #7 of 19
Now you see you got an answer and a pretty darn good one has well.

Rgds Rook
post #8 of 19
Please let us know how the tips work out for you.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice now more questions....

Ok You guys are great. I am going to make more dough tomorrow night. To date I have made about 200 dozen donuts...I would say that half were worth eating and the rest were either nice hockey pucks or looked like something that kids play with in school.

I have tried cake flour and the donuts turned out really cake like. So now I am wondering if I am using the wrong kind of yeast. What is the difference between bakers yeast and active dry yeast?

Ok Cake Rookie now you say that you use frozen donuts? Do they taste pretty good...are they light and fluffy. Because that is what we are aiming for light and fluffy.

We also know that what really makes the donut taste good is the glaze. We are doing all tropical flavor glazes, key lime, passion fruit, guava and a couple of others.

We are trying to figure out what the most cost effective way will be for us to make the donuts.

Once again, thanks for all your help. I will let you know what happens.

Also one place I read is that after the 2nd proofing you can freeze the dough. Is this a good idea?


post #10 of 19

If using cake flour results in too "cakey", then stick with your existing recipe and simply add the flour in thirds being sure to mix only until combined.

If you change nothing else about the recipe, sift your flour, mix only enough to incorporate, and they should be more light.
post #11 of 19
Good Morning. I have a solution for you. However, I doubt if you will do like I suggest to you. Anyway here goes. Whenever you employ milk in together with yeast & flour most often the result is a very poor baked product. You see, in milk there is a enzyme that I cannot remember it's name right know. It has to do with a "WHEY PROTEIN". It most often either kills the action of the yeast or destoys it's power somewhat. Also I might add that it has a negitive effect on the gluten develoment of the flour. Whenever employing more than 3/4 cup of milk you should consider heating the milk to 180 to 190 degrees & holding for about 30seconds. Before using same cool & then use it. Pasteuriztion is done at approx 160 to 170 degrees so this enzyme is not totally destoyed. If you employ my knowledge... Let us know how you fared.
Hopefully you will offer to buy me a glass of cheap red wine someday. Good luck & have a nice day.
post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

I have been scalding the milk - but maybe making it to hot

Excellent Idea and I have been employing your idea all along. I have been scalding the milk but I think that maybe I am getting it to hot. So I will try this tonight and let you know how they turn out.

So I am going to sift the flour a little, and I am going to scald the mild to a little higher temp.

Exactly how long should I keep the milk at the 180 - 190 range?


post #13 of 19
Scalding the milk certainly won't hurt. Make sure to cool it before adding to the mix.

Milk gives bread a more tender crust than water.

Too much of anything can be detrimental to yeast. "Some hard waters (200 ppm and higher) are objectionable because they can elevate the pH of the dough, causing a retarding effect on yeast and enzyme activity."
post #14 of 19
You have the same problem I had before I did the volume to weight conversion. Since I did the conversion, everything has been "lighter". I found that I could make a cup of all-purpose flour weigh anything from 3 to 12 ounces in weight. I used a standard of converting each 1 cup to 4 ounces in weight of flour. Some recipes have needed a touch of flour added, but not many.

You'll see I got a few suggestions for volume to weight conversion in the thread with the same name. I opted for the lowest of the conversion suggestions to start with.
post #15 of 19
Hello ahain. I am pleased & surprised that there are others that are aware of this bakers secret. Just hold this temp. about 30 to 45 seconds. Remember to cool the milk before useing it. What I do is I boil it the night before & then place it in the refridge overnite. Good luck & I know you will succeed in your endeaver.
post #16 of 19
Another trick you might try to yield a lighter doughnut is to use less flour -1 3/4 cups liquid to 5 cups flour seems like a lot. The problem you have then is a very soft and sticky dough. This can be dealt with by chilling your dough for 30-45 minutes before rolling out and cutting them.
I use this trick with my Christmas stollen recipe and it works really well in avoiding that heavy, dense texture.
I make a doughnut kind of similar to yours and chilling the dough works pretty well with them though the recipe I use contains quite a few more egg yolks.
Good luck.

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #17 of 19

Hi I am also in the proses of perfecting a recipe 

the closest to perfection I have come is with a gordon Ramsay recipy 

if you search for yeast risen donuts Gordon ramsay you will find the recipe online

use the fresh yeast option (you can get it from any supermarket backery counter)

What the recipe doesn't tell you to do is prove the donuts for about an hour and a half for the second rise 

This is because the recipe is for mini donuts but you do need the long rise to give you the lift in the oil

let me know how you get on !


post #18 of 19

Hi St Croix.  I make donuts for a living, maybe I can help.


1st,  You mention that you've made almost 200 dozen to date, I assume your in a residential kitchen.  Teaching yourself and having half that are usable is an accomplishment in itself.


2nd.  When I make a mix of dough,  (It comes in 50 lb bags from a major distributor in the U.S.)  I mix for 15 minutes or until the dough slaps the bowl.  It's difficult to explain without standing over a mixer beside you, however when a donut dough is mixed, the sound it makes "changes" It starts to slap the bowl.  If you are under mixing your dough that will lead to problems way down the road that are not traceable until you look at your mix times.  Someone mentioned gluten in the dough and my experience has been that some is desirable.  (I didn't know you could get too much)  You achieve gluten in the dough by mix time AND temperature calculations.  Check for gluten by pulling off a small piece of the dough between your fingers.  Maybe half enough to make a doughnut, and start stretching it out like silly putty. You should be able to stretch it thin enough to see light and shadows through it before it rips.  If this doesn't happen, you need to mix longer.  You do have a mechanical mixer of some kind right?  You can't really do this with a wooden spoon and a bowl.


3rd.  Yeast as mentioned in the thread is sensitive to time and temperature.  It will only live for so long.  I assuming you are using Fleischmann's active yeast or similar?  My ratio for dough is 1 ounce of yeast per Quart of water.  I use one pound bags of Saf-Instant but it is roughly the same.  I'd recommend not activating active yeast.  Let the dough and mixing do it for you.  I NEVER get the yeast wet before introducing it to the dough. NEBER EBER! 


Temperature wise,  I calculate for 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is the formula: 3x80=240 (3 comes from 1-Air temp. 2-Dry Mix temp. and 3 will be the liquid temp-the formula gives you).  Take your dry mix temp. an example: 78 degrees. Then your air temp. say 76 degrees and subtract these from 240 you should have 86 now.  Then figure in friction during mixing.  15 minutes mixing equals 30 degrees is a safe estimate to start.  So I would need 56 degree water to achieve an 80 degree mix.


Anyway the point here is that if you are using "warm" milk and room temperature ingredients plus you activated the yeast using warm water, Your mix is too hot and will kill your yeast that means no rising or at best inconsistent rising.  At 80 degrees, My dough sits in the bowl for 40 minutes tops.  And not in a warm spot either.  I put it away from circulating air with a clean apron covering it at room temperature.  Does your dough smell like nasty beer when you go to roll it out?  If so, I would suspect the temperature of your mix.


4th.  Someone mentioned that when you touch your dough and the indentation remains that its ready to roll out.  I prefer to roll it earlier.  First off, take a cookie sheet, dust it with flour (not grease) make a loaf of your dough and set it on the pan and cover. You will have a more manageable loaf when it comes time for rolling it.  Try to place your donuts on whatever you are going to cook them on.  Fryer basket, bottom of a metal colander, We use 23" by 23" screens in a commercial setting but that's not practical for you.  You need something that you can dip in the shortening or oil without touching the doughnut until it's time to flip it.  But it also needs to be able to support the doughnut.  A cookie cooling rack is too widely spaced...  Place the cut doughnut somewhere warm AND Humid.  Humidity makes the doughnut spread and temperature makes it rise.  If you leave a doughnut "out", it will develop a skin and won't rise after that and will just be dense once fried.  I was brainstorming and maybe you have one of those potpourri cookers with the little candle in the bottom and the ceramic bowl on top usually a few bucks at a Wal Mart.  NO POTPOURRI necessary LOL just put some water in top, and light the candle, place in the bottom of your oven and put your donuts over it.  You don't need more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit to proof donuts.  I've worked in shops whose proof box consisted of a coil hotplate and a stainless bowl of water on it, and it works fine.  While proofing, this is when the indentation thing comes in.  Touch a doughnut on its side gently.  When the dent hardly pushes back or doesn't at all they are done proofing.  


*TIP* don't fry donuts straight out of proofing.  They are moist and will make a much bigger mess of your kitchen with oil splatter then if you wait 5 minutes for them to dry a little.  Fry at 375 for 35 to 45 seconds per side until nice and golden browned.  Another tip.  Take a chopstick and flip the doughnut from underneath,You won't make any marks on the cooked side :)


Sorry for the wall of text, however I love making donuts and there is a lot more science to it than most folks know.  Eventually I'm going to make some videos on different aspects of doughnut making, maybe you folks would like to see.

post #19 of 19

Hi DonutFlipper,


Thanks for your response. I have found it very helpful. I am helping my mum start a breakfast snacks business and doughnuts are our flagship - we are still working on the recipes as well.


Have you gotten around to posting videos yet? Please do share :-)


Thanks you,



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