Why It Works
- Gentle kneading provides the doughnuts with a smooth skin, so they hold their shape and absorb less oil.
- Forming doughnut holes by hand creates the irregular shape of a real Donette, while also minimizing scraps (which can become tough through kneading and rerolling).
- Brushing excess flour from the dough keeps the coconut oil clean, allowing it to be reused up to 3 times.
- Bite-size doughnuts fry quickly, absorbing less oil.
- Refined coconut oil completely eliminates that greasy, fried-food smell.
Like the ones made by Hostess, my Donettes are fluffy bites of yellow cake swaddled in a messy coat of powdered sugar, and small enough to eat by the handful. They're a little tangy, like the original, but from thick Greek yogurt rather than some mystery additive, with a vibrant color and custardy richness from a couple of egg yolks. But the real secret is refined coconut oil, which is odorless at high heat (so your kitchen won't smell like a grease trap). It's also the tastiest fry oil around, because it's solid rather than liquid at room temperature, giving the doughnuts an almost-buttery richness.
- 3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar (1/2 cup; 100g)
- 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (3g) baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon (2g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
- 1 ounce unsalted butter (2 tablespoons; 30g), melted
- 1/4 ounce vanilla extract (1 1/2 teaspoons; 7ml)
- 3 large egg yolks, preferably free-range for color
- 4 ounces plain, unsweetened nonfat Greek yogurt (1/2 cup; 110g), room temperature
- 6 1/2 ounces low-protein, all-purpose flour (shy 1 1/4 cup; 185g), such as Gold Medal, plus more for dusting
- Refined coconut oil, enough to reach a 2” depth; about 32 ounces (1L) in an 8” pot
- 4 ounces powdered sugar (1 cup; 115g)
Making and Shaping the Dough: Combine granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, then stir in melted butter, vanilla, egg yolks, and Greek yogurt. When well combined, sift in flour and stir to form a soft dough, no more than 30 seconds. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until easy to handle. Dusting with as much flour as needed, roll to 3/8 inch thick. Brush off excess flour with a damp pastry brush and cut into 1 3/4–inch rounds. Arrange upside down on a paper towel–lined baking sheet, then brush away excess flour. Gather scraps, briefly knead, and repeat as before.
Forming the Hole: With a damp fingertip, press an indentation into the center of each doughnut, then flip the doughnuts and repeat. Take one doughnut in both hands and use a finger to gently pull open a hole in the center. (The paper-thin centers will give way at the slightest touch.) Smooth the ragged edges if you like and repeat with the remaining doughnuts.
Preparing the Oil: Melt refined coconut oil in a microwave, then pour into a roughly 8- to 10-inch stainless steel pot to a depth of at least 2 inches. (This gives cake doughnuts room to sink, allowing them to fry more quickly and absorb less oil.) Clip on digital thermometer and warm to 365°F over medium heat. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with 3 layers of paper towels and have the powdered sugar ready in a fine-mesh sieve.
Frying the Doughnuts: When oil reaches 365°F, practice maintaining that temperature for a few minutes before beginning to fry. Once you're comfortable with the controls, slip a test doughnut into the hot oil and fry until pale gold, turning frequently with tongs to ensure even color, about 60 seconds. Transfer to a paper towel–lined baking sheet, then sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Taste to see how you like the results, adding or subtracting a few seconds if needed to perfect subsequent batches. Fry remaining doughnuts, up to 6 or 7 at a time, and enjoy warm with powdered sugar. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 36 hours at room temperature (these are best dunked in milk or coffee).
Update: Avoid Greek yogurt thickened with gum, gelatin, or pectin. Look for brands that contain only milk and active cultures; this recipe was tested with both Fage and Chobani. Small jars of refined coconut oil can be fairly pricey in supermarkets, but expect to pay less than $15 for a 54-ounce container when shopping at warehouse clubs, like Sam's or Costco.