These doughnuts are light and fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside and smothered in finger-licking amounts of cinnamon and sugar. When they’re warm, straight from the oil and sugar dredging, it’s impossible to eat just one. There are a few reasons why these doughnuts are so special: for one, the yeast gives the doughnuts a light texture and more complex flavor, the potato keeps them tender and fluffy, and finally, frying in refined, neutral coconut oil gives them a wonderfully crisp, non-greasy crust. It's the making of a perfect doughnut. Just note-- it's probably a health hazard to make these while pregnant. I ate three without even realizing it (and definitely without caring). Homemade, freshly fried yeast doughnuts are such a rare treat-- enjoy them while they’re hot, fluffy and radiating the smell of rich cinnamon.
A few notes about the recipe...
Don’t skip the grated cinnamon! I’ve never even thought to grate cinnamon sticks, and it’s incredible what a flavor boost you get from doing it. The freshly grated cinnamon adds so much aroma and spice to the mixture, it really takes these doughnuts to the next level (and it makes your kitchen smell like Fall).
If you’re interested in switching up the topping, straight powdered sugar would be phenomenal, while other combinations such as maple sugar, vanilla bean sugar, sugar with a bit of cocoa powder, or tossing in some orange zest to the cinnamon sugar mix would all be fun to experiment with. I’m a sucker for the granulated sugar toppings, but any type of glaze is fair game as well!
I know it’s a pain, but it’s worth it for real doughnuts— baked versions don’t even begin to compare. Whenever possible, I fry outside on our grill which has a small separate burner attached to it. Sometimes it struggles to get to 360°F, but I’d rather wait a few more minutes for it to get hot than deal with splattering oil and the lingering smell of a carnival inside. If you have the option, definitely give it a try.
As Stella notes in her book, the light texture, clean flavor and non-greasy feel of these doughnuts hinge on the use of refined coconut oil for frying. Other oils are not guaranteed to produce the same results.
cinnamon sugar yeast-raised doughnuts
makes sixteen 2 1/2" doughnuts | recipe from Bravetart by Stella Parks
1 medium, 6 oz russet potato
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk (any percentage is fine), warm
4 tbsp (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted and warm
1 large egg, cold
2 3/4 cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1/4 cup (1.5 oz) granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (half as much if iodized)
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 quarts refined coconut oil, for frying
1/4 cup (2 oz) granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste
2 tsp grated cinnamon, or to taste
Cook potato until soft, in whichever manner you prefer (steam, boil, bake, microwave). When cool, peel and rice the potato. Gently scoop into a measuring cup to measure 3/4 cup cooked potato (3 oz) and set aside.
make dough + first rise
Sprinkle yeast over warmed milk with a pinch of sugar, stir and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in butter, egg and prepared potato.
Combine flour, sugar, salt, nutmeg and baking soda in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse until well combined.
Add liquid ingredients and mix until the dough is smooth, about one minute. Alternatively, knead by hand or with a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (on low) for 10-15 minutes.
Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl and let rise in a draft-free area until puffy, but not necessarily doubled in size, about 75 minutes. The dough is ready when it partially springs back after touching it. If it rapidly bounces back, let it rise another 10-15 minutes.
shape dough + second rise
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, lightly grease, and set aside.
Gently deflate the dough, place on a lightly floured surface and cut into 16 pieces. Take one piece, round into a ball and gently flatten it. Using your index finger and thumb, pierce through the center of the dough, then gently stretch into a 3" ring. Place on prepared baking sheet and repeat shaping process with remaining pieces of dough.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap, or a clean dishcloth, and let rise in a draft-free area for about 75 minutes, or until doubled in size. At this point, the shaped doughnuts can be refrigerated overnight, then brought to room temperature before frying.
Fill a large, heavy-bottomed pot 2 inches deep with coconut oil (warmed in the microwave, if needed, to liquefy). Attach a thermometer to the pot and heat oil over medium-high heat to 360°F.
As the oil heats up, line a baking sheet with two layers of paper towels and set aside. Mix the sugar, ground cinnamon and grated cinnamon in a shallow bowl or large plate and set aside.
When the oil reaches 360°F, carefully slip a few doughnuts into the hot oil, making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry for about 2 minutes, flipping once, until the doughnuts are a deep golden brown. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, carefully remove doughnuts and briefly drain on paper towel-lined pan. Dredge in cinnamon sugar mixture, place on a rack to cool, and repeat with remaining doughnuts. Make sure to wait for oil to reheat to 360°F before frying each new batch. Eat immediately!
plain, unsugared doughnuts will keep in an airtight container for 24 hours at room temperature; rewarm in the oven and dredge in cinnamon sugar to serve.
storing the oil: allow the oil to cool enough to safely handle (but not so cool that it solidifies), and pour through a piece of 3-ply cheesecloth into an empty jar. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.