The origin of this sweet pastry is widely debated. One of its claims dates back to as early as 1800, from the wife of an English physician, Baroness Elizabeth Dimsdale. The Baroness’s book was recently unearthed by the Hertfordshire Record Society, and one of the recipes found in this book is for a food by the name of “dow nuts”. The Baroness is said to have compiled a book of 80 domestic tips and 700 recipes – the recipe of “dow nuts” being one of the 700. This might have laid to rest all the previous claims, which have disputed its origin to be from the Dutch or the Americans.
The Dutch were known to be making “olykoeks” or “oil cakes” back in the 19th century, and it is believed that they had taken the snack to America when they immigrated to the country.
On the other hand, an American – Hanson Gregory, is said to have invented the doughnut in 1847, while on a lime trading ship.
The name of this pastry is yet another interesting topic. The modern name “donut” that we use now, is a simplified variant of “doughnut”. The word “doughnut”, is first reported to have been used by an American author, Washington Irving. In his book A History of New York, published in 1809, Irving narrates a scene of one of the “fashionable parties”, attended by the “higher classes”. The “tea-table” of such a party would always include “an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts”. The spelling “donut” appeared about a 100 years later, but its use was popularised only when Dunkin Donuts was founded in 1950.
Plainly speaking, this food is dough deep-fried in oil. Its history suggests that it is to be fried in fat, particularly, in hog’s fat.
There are two basic types of doughnut: the raised/yeast doughnut or the cake doughnut. The use of yeast or baking powder will decide which doughnut type that is made. One of the varieties of the cake doughnut is the Old-Fashioned Doughnut.
The most common topping of the doughnut is glazed with sugar icing. Over the years, the doughnut has evolved to include different toppings. One of the ways is to stuff the doughnut with fillings, such as cream cheese. However, the fried dough could also be served plain.
Milk, yeast or baking powder, eggs, flour, and butter. Salt and sugar are also added for flavourings.