The classic sweet treat is a staple for supermarket bakeries. Recent topping trends and new laws regarding partially hydrogenated oils, however, means retailers can’t just keep frying up the same old donuts.

The importance of consistency

Delivering delicious, consistent donuts is critical for the bakery department’s bottom line, and there are countless variables to consider to help your team deliver great products. When making donuts, several factors impact the quality and consistency of your product, including water temperature, shortening temperature, labor, product quality, waste, competition and customer loyalty. Precision is key as inconsistencies in any of these areas can greatly impact your business.

Temperature: The accuracy of water temperature and the temperature of the shortening in the fryer are two of the most important factors for consistency. Built-in equipment thermometers can sometimes get bumped or damaged with use, which can result in imprecise readings, so something as simple as using an external thermometer can help ensure a proper frying environment. 

“Donuts absorb quite a bit of the frying shortening, and it’s the first thing you taste when you eat a donut,” says Tim Busta, commercial technical director at Dawn Foods. “Having the right shortening temperature is critical because it also affects how icings and glazes adhere to your finished donut.” 

For water temperature, dough moves more quickly in warmer weather and slower in cooler weather. 

Mixes Are Reliable: Using the right mixes is essential and provides reliability for bakeries with varying levels of skilled labor. When you work with highly tolerant mixes you avoid costly inconsistencies. When variables in the bakery aren’t consistent – like mixing time, proofing time and temperature – a highly tolerant mix allows for quality donuts even under suboptimal conditions. 

Proper Sourcing & Testing of Ingredients Makes a Difference: Each year, the quality of the wheat crop is different, which can impact the consistency of raw materials you’re using to formulate your donuts. Each harvest companies source and test its materials to ensure quality and consistency in its mixes regardless of weather, planting, yield and other variables.  

Adding Up to Great Taste: When you consider water temperature, shortening frying temperature and the quality of mix, consistency in each of these plays an important role in keeping your customers coming back.  

Techniques for PHO-free

When working with palm or soybean-based donut fry shortenings, there are subtle differences you should note, says Mitch Riavez, national accounts manager for Stratas Foods.

When frying in a palm shortening, especially with cake donuts, you’ll have a slightly more open grain or cell structure. Because there is 35% to 38% fat absorption in a cake donut, the taste and mouthfeel can be slightly different when using palm.

Stick with hard fat for any donut frying applications. Don’t make the mistake of frying donuts in liquid shortening. “It’s not actually a very good idea,” Riavez says. “It won’t set up on the outside of the donut very well, and it won’t allow icings, or powdered sugars to adhere as well.”

Classic vs. crazy

The classic yeast donut is a staple for instore bakeries and most donut shops. But recent trends have made cake donuts perhaps more popular than ever.
Donut retailers like Duck Donuts, Hurts Donut Co. and The Dapper Doughnut — all of which specialize in Instagram-worthy treats with wild toppings — have taken the country by storm.
But these hearty toppings, like breakfast cereal, candy and loads of icing, work much better with dense cake donuts instead of light, airy yeast donuts.
If your instore bakery is looking for more opportunity with cake donuts, browse the social media feeds of today’s top donut-hawkers for decoration inspiration. Duck Donuts, for example, is loading donuts with a toffee crunch topping made with Heath bars for the first quarter of 2019.