By Stephanie Fraiman

Chef Chad Pagano loves doughnuts. Their basic recipe is a canvas for creativity, with no limit to the toppings, glazes and flavor profiles that can work their magic on the sweetened dough. Across the world, chefs of all cultures add their own twist to the beloved pastry, and—at least in America—that’s an idea worth celebrating.

Rec Donuts-029

In honor of National Doughnut Day, we asked Chad to share his expert tips, so you can craft the perfect batch.

  1. Don’t over-mix.
    “A lot of amateur bakers tend to overmix doughnuts. The best cake doughnuts have a little bumpiness and irregularity to them—that’s OK. Don’t over-mix cake or yeast doughnuts; that makes the doughnuts too chewy and tough—the last thing we want.”
  2. Temperature is key.
    “This is especially important when making yeast doughnuts. You want to mix the yeast with the water or milk at 100 degrees. Keep the rest of your ingredients at room temperature. When combined, you’ll get the perfect temperature for rising dough—78-82 degrees.”
  3. Resist the urge to add more flour.
    “If your dough is too sticky, wrap it in plastic and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour to rest.”
  4. Invest in a digital thermometer.
    “People don’t realize that they need a certain temperature when frying. I fry doughnuts in shortening—the thicker viscosity prevents the fat from penetrating the doughnut—at a nice high temperature, 375 F, and that temperature needs to be maintained. If you’re using other oils (like canola) bring it down to 360 F.”
  5. Don’t over-fry.
    “A good doughnut is dropped in the oil and sinks to the bottom. As the gasses expand in the doughnut, the dough rises. Fry it about one minute on each side, and don’t flip it too many times.”
  6. Have patience.
    “Don’t glaze doughnuts while they are hot. You want to make sure the doughnut is room temperature, so the glaze doesn’t melt off, which just looks sloppy. You want the doughnut cooled off a bit, then dip it into a nice hot glaze and shake it a little so the glaze sits on the doughnut.”

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Yield: Approximately 15 doughnuts, plus holes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unfiltered apple cider
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • ½ cup well-shaken buttermilk
  • ¾ stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups sugar, divided

Instructions:

  1. Boil cider until reduced to about 1/3 cup, then cool completely.
  2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
  3. Whisk reduced cider, buttermilk, butter, eggs, and 1 cup sugar in a small bowl.  Stir into dry ingredients until a dough forms (it will be very sticky).
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat out with floured hands into a 13-inch round.  Cut out doughnuts and fry at 370F degrees until done.  When slightly cooled, dredge in cinnamon sugar (made with remaining cup sugar and cinnamon).

For more of Chef Chad’s signature doughnut recipes, visit TODAY.com.

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