Donuts or Doughuts?

Doughnuts are on my brain lately as I’ve been trying to make my perfect doughnut. Or is it donut? Either way, doughnuts are sweet, deep-fried, and delicious. There are two main schools of donuts: yeast and cake. Today I wandered on the cake side.

Donuts have been around for a while, and like all good things, many people want to lay claim to their origins. The predecessor of the doughnut was most likely olykoek, a Dutch treat that can be translated as “oil cake.” As delicious as these oily cakes may have been, they don’t look much like the doughnuts we see today at Dunkin’s and Tim Hortons. Rumor has it that the holey doughnut we know and love is courtesy of Hansen Gregory, an American sea captain who was the first to punch a hole into his olykoek.

History aside, some people don’t even consider cake doughnuts a doughnut. Traditionally olykoek are yeast based, so where did cake doughnuts come from? According to joepastry.com, cake doughnuts were created out of necessity and nostalgia. Apparently, during WWI, Salvation Army volunteers created a taste of home for world weary soldiers. Because yeast doughnuts need time to rise, and also because the volunteers had chemical leaveners on hand, the cake doughnut was created. When the troops went home however, they didn’t forget their wartime doughnuts and thus, cake doughnuts were popularized.

My cake doughnuts aren’t so rough and tumble as the original cake doughnut, but I did decide to go with a classic cake doughnut recipe. I fried them in Crisco as opposed to vegetable oil and was plesantly surprised. Soft and fluffy on the inside while delicately crunchy on the outside.

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