These Homemade Italian Donuts make the perfect treat. Mashed potatoes make them soft and tender. They can be made either fried or baked. Perfect for breakfast or snack!
I must admit Donuts are one of the best sweet treats that I love even if it is only once in a while. And I have to admit these Homemade Italian donuts are so good. A soft and tender crumb are made absolutely perfect when fried. If you prefer they are also very good when they are baked. It's up to you.
How to make them
In a small bowl add the lukewarm milk and sprinkle the yeast on top, let sit for 5 minutes then stir to combine.
In the stand up mixer, whisk together the flour, sugar and zest (if using). Then add the yeast mixture and start to knead on low speed, add the egg, melted butter and vanilla, continue mixing, add the mashed potatoes and salt.
Knead for approximately 5-6 minutes then move the dough to a flat surface and knead to form a soft compact dough ball.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl and let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled.
Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface, pat to form a small rectangle, fold the top of the dough into the middle and the bottom up over the middle, like an envelope, turn the dough and repeat.
Roll out the dough to 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) and cut with either a donut cutter or a medium round cookie cutter and using a medium pastry tip cut out a hole in the middle. Place the cut out donuts on the prepared cookie sheet.
Cover and let rise until doubled. The donuts can either be fried in hot oil or baked in a pre-heated oven. If fried, roll the still warm donuts in granulated sugar, if baked then sprinkle the cooled donuts with powdered sugar before serving.
What is the best oil for frying?
The best oils for frying are peanut oil and canola oil because of their high smoke points, which means the temperature when the oil begins to break down and, begins to smoke. Although sunflower and corn oil work well too.
How to Fry
Choose the correct oil, Peanut oil is considered the best because it has a delicate flavour. I usually use an oil specifically made for frying. Make sure you use enough oil, food should be able to move freely and not stick to the bottom. A good rule is fill the pot to half full or at least 2 – 3 inches of oil.
Be sure to heat your oil before frying, I always use a thermometer. You could also try by throwing in the pan a crouton or a piece of carrot. If it starts to sizzle and forms a lot of bubbles around it, then the oil is ready to start frying.
Although I don’t like this method, because it is hard to tell if your oil gets too hot, then the food fries too quickly, when the oil is not hot enough then the food does not cook on the inside. Make sure the oil does not exceed 330-350F (170-175C).
Always fry a couple of donuts at a time, because too many together can lower the temperature of the oil. Which can leave the food less crispy and greasier. Place fried food on a paper towel lined plate to remove excess oil.
Is the yeast active?
The yeast you are using could be old or dead, to tell if the yeast is still active, in a small bowl add a 1/2 cup of water, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of yeast and a pinch of sugar over the top, stir it up, then let it stand for about 5 minutes.
If the yeast is still active, it will dissolve completely into the water and the liquid will start bubbling.
Make sure your water isn’t too hot or too cold. Too hot and you will kill the yeast, too cold and it will take a long time for the dough to rise. The perfect temperature is 100-110F.
Why add mashed potatoes?
Adding some mashed potatoes to dough helps to give you a soft and tender crumb. It also makes the dough easier to shape and handle.
What are the most popular donuts?
Apparently the most popular donuts in the USA are glazed donuts. You can make a simple glaze at home using powdered sugar, milk and vanilla.
Where are Graffe from in Italy?
These Italian Graffe originated in Naples and were always prepared during the Carnival period along with Castagnole and Frappe. Nowadays they can be found all year round and are very popular eaten with a cappuccino or espresso in a coffee bar all over Italy.
How to store them
This is the type of fried food that should be eaten immediately the day that they are made, the longer they sit out the drier they will become. Although if you bake them they can be stored in an airtight container or bag at room temperature. They will keep for up to 2-3 days.
So if you would like to try making a delicious donut recipe I hope you try these Italian Donuts and let me know how you liked them. Enjoy!
Homemade Italian Donuts/Graffe
- ¼ cup + ¾ tablespoon milk lukewarm (I used whole) (72 grams)
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 cups all purpose flour (260 grams)
- ½ zest orange or lemon (if desired)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 2½ tablespoons butter (melted cooled)
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon mashed potatoes (approximately 1 medium) (140 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- vegetable oil for frying
- In a small bowl add the lukewarm milk and sprinkle the yeast on top, let sit for 5 minutes then stir to combine.
- In the stand up mixer whisk together the flour, sugar and zest (if using). Then add the yeast mixture and start to knead on low speed, add the egg, melted butter and vanilla, continue mixing and add the mashed potatoes and salt.
- Knead on speed 2 for approximately 4 minutes then lower the speed to 1 and continue kneadding for 3 minutes. Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface and knead to form a soft compact dough ball.Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl turning to lightly cover in oil, cover with plastic wrap (even a clean shower cap or dish towel) the bowl and let rise in a warm draft free area until doubled approximately 2 hours.
- Move the dough to a lightly floured flat surface, pat to form a small rectangle, fold the top of the dough into the middle and the bottom up over the middle, like an envelope, turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat.
- Then roll out the dough to 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) thick and cut with either a donut cutter or a medium round cookie cutter and using a medium pastry tip cut out a hole in the middle. Place the cut out donuts on a prepared cookie sheet, cover and let rise in a warm draft free area for approximately 1 hour or until doubled.
- When the donuts have risen, heat the oil (in a large fryer or deep pot filled with 2-3 inches of oil), make sure the temperature remains between 335 - 345F (170-175C), (too high and they cook on the outside but not in the middle / too low and they remain soggy). Once the oil is at the correct temperature, fry 1-2 donuts at a time, until they are golden brown, turning a few times as they cook. Approximately 2-3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels, when cool enough to touch, but still quite warm, roll in granulated or turbinado sugar. Serve immediately. Enjoy.
- If you are baking the donuts, then pre-heat oven to 350F (180C), leave the donuts on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for approximately 25 minutes. Move the baked donuts to a wire rack and when cool sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.