The original doughnut recipe used by Louisa Macculloch (1785-1863) would have called for at least 14 cups of flour with the ingredients listed below, resulting in dozens and dozens of donuts. The adapted recipe for today’s kitchen will yield about two dozen donuts and will require an afternoon of your time.

The word doughnut is found for the first time in Washington Irving’s 1809, The History of New York. Doughnuts or donuts are believed to have been introduced to America with Dutch settlers who made oil cakes, eaten from Christmas to Twelfth Night. The true origin seems to be from the Middle East, reaching northern Europe in the 1400s.

Whether you purchase your donuts from an American donut company like the nearly 75-year old Dunkin Donuts (Quincy, MA founded 1948) or the 83-year-old Krispy Kreme chain (Winston-Salem, NC founded 1937), or even from a neighborhood bakery—donuts are one of America’s comfort foods.

Original Recipe: Doughnuts

1 quart of milk, warmed

Stir in as much flour as possible with a spoon. Add the yeast and let it stand till light.

Then add ¼ pound of butter, 1 teaspoonful of salecatric acid, 4 eggs, half a nutmeg and sugar enough to sweeten, add more flour and let it rise again, then work it up and let it rise a third time.

Adapted Recipe: Doughnuts

1 ¼ cup whole milk, warmed to 120 degrees F

1 tablespoon of instant yeast

¼ cup and 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 stick butter, melted and cooled

¼ teaspoon of nutmeg

4 ¼ cup sifted flour

Approximately 1 quart Oil for frying (Crisco or Canola)

Warm milk to 100 degrees and stir in instant yeast and one tablespoon of sugar. Let set and should show signs of frothing.  In mixer with dough hook (if available) combine butter, eggs, sugar. Add yeast mixture and combine. Add dry ingredients (flour and nutmeg) a little at a time. Once combined, on floured board knead dough for two minutes. Put dough back in bowl, cover with plastic wrap or towel and leave in warm place for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes, punch down the dough, and leave again for 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, punch down the dough for a third time, leave and let rise for a final 60 minutes. Heat oil to 375 degrees on stove. On lightly floured surface use rolling pin and cut into doughnut shapes. Cook in oil two or three doughnuts at a time, turning about one minute on each side. Let rest on paper towel. Yields 2 dozen doughnuts.


Learn more about the history of donuts from the Smithsonian



8 freshly baked donuts dusted with confectioner's sugar set on a white ceramic plate.

Topic: Munchie Monday
Age / Level: 1, Primary, Elementary, Life Long Learner

Doughnuts Photo Gallery

Donut dough shaped into three donuts set atop parchment paper.