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Submitted by on Oct 3, 2021

A doughnut, also known as a donut, is a leavened fried dough. It is a popular sweet snack in many countries, and it can be made at home or purchased from bakeries, supermarkets, food stalls, and franchised specialty vendors. The traditional spelling is ‘doughnut,’ while the simplified version is ‘donut.’ In the English language, the two terms are frequently used interchangeably.

“Pa said he guessed he hadn’t got much appetite, and he would just drink a cup of coffee and eat a donut,” says a character in George W. Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa, published in 1900. The alternative spelling “donut” was invented when the New York”based Display Doughnut Machine Corporation abbreviated the word to make it more pronounceable by the foreigners they hoped would buy their automated doughnut making equipment, according to John T. Edge (Donuts, an American passion 2006). Bailey Millard jokingly complains about the decline of spelling in a Los Angeles Times article dated August 10, 1929, saying that he “can’t swallow the ‘wel-dun donut’ nor the ever so ‘gud bred’.”

A series of “National Donut Week” articles in The New York Times covering the 1939 World’s Fair demonstrate the interchangeability of the two spellings. Beginning on October 9, two articles mention the donut spelling. The oldest surviving company to use the donut variation is Dunkin’ Donuts, which was founded in 1948 under the name Open Kettle (Quincy, Massachusetts). Other chains, such as the defunct Mayflower Doughnut Corporation (1931), did not use that spelling. While “doughnut” is used internationally, the spelling “donut” is American, according to the Oxford Dictionaries. The spelling “donut” was uncommon until the 1950s, when it became much more common; this growth in popularity may have been influenced by the spread of Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Ring doughnuts are made in one of two ways: by joining the ends of a long, skinny piece of dough into a ring, or by cutting the outside and inside shape with a doughnut cutter, leaving a doughnut-shaped piece of dough and a doughnut hole (the dough removed from the center). This smaller piece of dough can be cooked and served as a “doughnut hole,” or it can be returned to the doughnut batter and used to make more doughnuts. A doughnut in the shape of a disk can also be stretched and pinched into a torus until the center breaks and a hole forms. A doughnut depositor, on the other hand, can be used to drop a circle of liquid dough (batter) directly into the fryer.

Ring doughnuts come in two varieties: those made with a yeast-based dough for raised doughnuts and those made with a special type of cake batter. Yeast-raised doughnuts have around 25% oil by weight, whereas cake doughnuts have roughly 20% oil by weight, although extra fat is added to the batter before frying. Cake doughnuts are fried for about 90 seconds at 190 to 198 degrees Celsius (374 to 388 degrees Fahrenheit), turning once. Because yeast-raised doughnuts take longer to fry, around 150 seconds at 182 to 190 °C (360 to 374 °F), they absorb more oil. Cake doughnuts usually weigh between 24 and 28 g (0.85 and 0.99 oz), but yeast-raised doughnuts weigh around 38 g (1.3 oz) and are bigger and taller when completed (owing to rising).

The expression “fire-cakes and dough-nuts” was first used in an 1808 short tale about a spread of “fire-cakes and dough-nuts.” The mention to “doughnuts” in Washington Irving’s History of New York in 1809 is most widely recognized as the earliest recorded record of the word. “Balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks,” Irving wrote. These fried dough “nuts” are now known as doughnut holes (see holes section). The term nut is used in this context to mean “little spherical cake or cookie,” as in ginger nut. Doughnut is the conventional spelling, which still reigns supreme in the United States, despite the fact that donut is frequently used. Doughnut and its abbreviated version, donut, are now widely used in American English.

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