Defining a doughnut might not be a ubiquitous universal experience in that there are many varieties of them in the world. But devouring one surely is- as a decadent dive into deliciousness so mindblowing that has earned this typically desserty dominance fans of its own all over. And while this very namesake food shaping up as a fried dough in essence is typically American in character, and encountered also quintessentially in such versions that encompasses a hole into a round, doughnuts need not necessarily be circular nor do they have to be always sweet. This might seem like quite striking a detour from the apparent but the universality entailing these somewhat bigger than bite sized balls as we know them is way more humongous than the gargantuan appetite we have for them.
Along the exploration of varied cuisines of different cultures in many countries, doughnuts reveal themselves in identities far more distinct. Here’s taking a look at the many assertions of shape and size that doughnuts tend to be across different regions of the world-
No prizes for guessing from where this very evident reiteration of the doughnut makes its emergence. A German delight, that though encompasses a wide many identities in other utterings of it, the berliner is a doughnut all right, delicious and all but without the hole. Puffy rounds of dough of course typically filled with jam or marmalade but that which also popularly makes way for decadences like chocolate and cream or even mocha and champagne or advocaat, berliners were originally celebratory treats reserved for occasions like New Year’s or the Carnival. Festive indeed therefore in spirit, the essence of which is delivered in its scrumptiousness as well, the berliner indeed is more than fit enough to be called a doughnut.
By far the most ‘distinguished’ dessert as far as its premise of treading is concerned would have to be the Romanian papanasi. Dwelling very much in the delightful desserty dominion but oozing also of the immensely stringy mess that cheeses are exalted in is the papanasi that indeed makes for a donut just waiting to be devoured the moment it is out of the oil, perfectly hot and crusty and indeed cheesy.
Soft and crunchy, plump with cheese and radiant with jams, this delivers a version of decadence that is not exactly characteristic of the donut identity even along its infinite trail of irresistible interpretations. And given that papanasi can be popularly boiled as well, they sure are more deliberate in their striking standoutness. But with the cheesy allure at hand and the donut dimension on which they rest, most distinctly as well, it is no wonder that they happen to be the most popular of Romanian desserts. And given the drooling premise along which they roll, these definitely would be the most extravagant option on the donut rack as well. After all, who on earth can ever refuse donuts and chide cheese for all they are worth?
Of American origin but quite remarkable in its distinctive essence is the Spudnut hailing specifically from Canada as a doughnut with potato as its base. Either mashed potatoes or potato starch makes up the dough of the Spudnut that which emerges therefore as a lighter and fluffier version of the original flour based doughnut. Not withstanding its ‘veggie’ reputation though, potato doughnuts are also sweet enough in their offering to make for excellent options to enjoy alongside your coffee.
While crullers are variants of the doughnut not exclusive to France, it still is the French version of it that strikes most like being a donut in the shape of it. Ring shaped indeed unlike the braided, somewhat elongated crullers of the States, the French cruller is an interesting rendition of the classic doughnut in visage. Light and airy in its stemming of choux pastry, French crullers might be as basic as any other sugar glazed doughnut but the ‘detailing’ in their look makes them indeed an exotic version of the much loved global treat.
As desirable as doughnuts can ever be but perhaps even better, what with the coconutty charm of the coasts worked into it, the African delight called the Vitumbua is a true dive into decadence. With a slight crusty exterior and a fluffy interior that almost melts in the mouth, these are popular as a street food all over the region even when they are delicacies as profuse in traditionality. It though isn’t the coconut alone that makes these roundrels of deliciousness different an assertion of their essence of the donut. With a rice flour based dough flavored with the fragrant whiffs of cardamom and of course encompassing the prominent coconut flavor, vitumbuas shape up as irresistible delicacies in taste as well as in utter fluffiness.
Another mannerism in which these east African doughnut manifest themselves to emerge as even more distinct an identity is their nature in contrary to the deep fried assertion from which donuts spring. Healthy therefore a treat, in addition to being vegan and gluten free as well, these donuts from Tanzania surely are even more gratifying in its deliverance on the donut craze.
An Asian take on the donut and therefore a variant of it made with glutinous rice flour, the Chapssal doughnut hails from the nation of Korea. A sweet red bean paste is what makes the filling of these mildly sweet treats dusted otherwise with a mix of sugar and cinnamon powder. Crunchy outside and chewy inside is what characterise the texture of the chapssal doughnut that make for a popular street food throughout the country.
Sweet, light and airy, Fánk are traditional donuts from Hungary that are a treat to relish on their own. Served most authentically with such accompaniments like powdered sugar and fruit jam, specifically thick Hungarian jams, these hole less delights are more famous as Farsangi Fánk or ribbon donuts and is quite a wonder even in its very ingredients. A dough lightly seasoned with rum and lemon zest is what endows upon this celebratory Hungarian delicacy a taste and texture that indeed makes for among the most scrumptious donuts ever.
The Israeli gobbling up of sufganiyah every Hanukkah might be a popular festive tradition but these donuts it in fact are the Jews all over the world who partake of these balls of deliciousness. A jam filled dessert that is sprinkled with powdered sugar, the eating of sufganiyah makes for an important ritual in line with the custom of eating fried foods during Hanukkah. Significant indeed therefore in its essence that transcends the mere dominion of it as a donut much loved by one and all is this Israeli favorite that has though evolved to encompass also savory tastes within its humble fluff.
It might sound somewhat surprising but seems like doughnuts are more related to Hanukkah than with any other festival. The case in point this time being the Moroccan Sfenj typically characteristic of the Jewish festival as a traditional food. Light and spongy a case of the classic dessert that is eaten either plain or sprinkled with sugar or even soaked in honey, sfenj makes also for a daily staple in the Maghreb region. But the Moroccan heritage is one deeply embedded within the chewy yet crispy interior of what characterise the sfenj- a name derived indeed from the Arabic word safanj meaning sponge, finding cultural and popular expression throughout the region that however isn’t exactly the one from which it originated.
Hailing from the Asian nation of Japan as doughnuts filled with red bean paste are the an-doughnuts that reveal as small, hole less wonders resident in somewhat moistness and a gentle sweetness. A classic offering from among the many unique varieties that make up the donut dominion gladly dived into by the Japanese, the an-doughnut is as basic a donut that can be but indeed is a bite sized wonder standout in its own distinct identity.
Translating literally as Carnival Donuts, Faschingskrapfen are Austrian treats that aren’t very different from the Berliner. Jam or custard filled donuts, known also as little carnival cakes, these are soft and fluffy desserts that though are popular enough to be eaten round the year even when their very identity rests upon a celebratory indeed premise.
One of the most striking variation of the donut, at least in what it finds expression as being an ox tongue pastry or even a horse ear pastry, Chinese doughnuts are lightly sweet beings that make therefore as conducive for consumption as a breakfast goodie. The animal reference of these chewy and crusty and soft donuts though is due to the elliptical shape of them much like than of an ox tongue. Besides these almost round doughnuts though, China also partakes of doughnut in slightly offbeat a taste as well as form of them. Stick shaped, lightly savory offerings called the Youtiao are what makes up the other end of the exploration of donuts in the Chinese spectrum.
Continuing with the celebratory association that donuts have come to beckon indeed by virtue of their deliciousness characteristic of especial treats are similar such chartings of them in the country of Norway. Small cake donuts that generally are devoid of any filling or glazing, smultrings though tend to be exotic still in the array of flavours they deliver. Often spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, lemon or orange zest, as well as various liqueurs, these Norwegian staples though are definitely donutty enough in their ring shaped formation out of a dense dough that is what makes them so delightfully crispy and fluffy. Christmastime favorites but everyday servings of sweetness as well, smultringers can be as basic and as exceptional as you deem them to be, whether they are fresh out of the deep pan or have been commendably resisted in their temptation to let cool enough.
Of Chinese origin no doubt but hailing specifically from the province of Wuhan are the mianwos that shape up as more likely doughnuts, at least in what they look like. Despite this residing in similarity, the mianwo is a whole world different doughnut than what we gobble up as treats dripping with sinfuls of sweetness. Usually made from soy milk, rice milk, flour, sesame, and chopped Chinese scallion, mianwos therefore are the most savory versions of the doughnut there can be. Even then, sweet mianwos are also not very uncommon but in still different an assertion, made typically with veggies like the sweet potato.
When it’s something as scrumptious as fudge paired with the divine decadence of a donut, the resulting treat is one that is a definite winner. Folks in Scotland and England are particularly entitled in that aspect, having access to what is the fudge doughnut not just as a treat but even a staple! Made in chocolate and caramel frosted varieties with a confectionery custard filling, these indeed are delicacies even more exalted in their doughnut distinction to sum up probably the most extravagant of their kind ever.
Perhaps a draw from the Chinese youtiao would be the Portuguese fartura, or maybe even a development upon the Spanish churros, but either way it preserves intact indeed its identity as being a version of the doughnut. Tasting very much like the global delicacy they take after, farturas though are not classic donut shaped dwellings manifesting rather as a crunchy roll emanating very prominently of yeast and with a definite lemon flavor as well.
Old fashioned Donut
The old fashioned donut is a type of cake doughnut originating in America which therefore makes it appear as the classic ring that donuts are most frequently seen as. The accompanying texture of the oldie though is one distinctly setting it out from the rest of the lot. Achieved by frying the dough, or rather the batter in a lower temperature, even when cake doughnuts cook considerably quickly, are these tapered, cragged and cracked specimens of the otherwise smooth dessert that though can be served plain, glazed or sprinkled as per one’s fancy.
Whether you are a donut crazy buff still more at peace with your digging into savouries instead or one sincerely wishing for doughnuts to be as close to salty as possible, the Ukrainian offering of the pampushka will be a discovery you will indeed rejoice in. These sweet yeasted buns though can be sweet as well but in their more than prominent residing along the pungent trails of the garlic glamour, they sure offer an exotic drivethrough into the world of the essentially sweet but in exact indulgence of your fancies. Whether they are baked the traditional way or instead are deep fried for more donutty a feel of them, savory pampushky aren’t generally filled but are only seasoned with garlic sauce. Sweet versions though adhere to the filled essence of mainly fruity incorporations and come topped with sugar as well.
Portuguese again a route embarked on by the donut leads to such iterations of it as the Malasada. Cakey and airy, yeasty and sweet, crisp and soft, malasadas offer a variation of the doughnut very classic in its sugar and cardamom powder dusted exterior but generally sans the hole and also some filling. Seated in a flavor profile that smacks very distinctly of the eggy and lemony essence are these confections from Portugal that though enjoy much popularity in the region of Hawaii where they make up for much of the fare devoured on Shrove Tuesday, very unsurprisingly known also as Malasada Day.
Yet another Portuguese heralding upon the donut realm, sonhos are super light and airy Christmas treats that dwell in a name as fascinating as their fluffy spanning in texture. Literally translating as dreams, these are dreamy indeed doughnuts, small and delicious and perfectly sweet with the heavenly aroma of cinnamon infusing the sugar sprinkles they come forth in all whiteness, much like a fairyland dream of snowy sorts. Also popular in Brazil under this same dreamy assertion where they get even alluring a touch of decadence through infusion of a rich pastry cream, sonhos truly are the ultimate elegance yet in the domain of the world’s many a dunking donuts.
Puffy indeed in their very mention, connoting therefore a vision of the dessert world of which donuts are a fancied flurry are African puff puffs that look exactly as they sound. Spongy and spherical, yeasted and deep fried, somewhat chewy and utterly simple, puff puffs tend to be more Nigerian even within their African identity. Typically sweet as well but more than open to savoury interpretations, the puff puff makes for a doughnut variety that stays true to its appeal of the name.
And now to the granddaddy of them all, from which doughnuts essentially originated to roll in global deliriousness today. Of Dutch origins in exploration of its essence, though not as much in its most popularly conjured up shape of how donuts appear are the Olykoeks or oil cakes that have been in existence since long back but ventured into American territory sometime in the mid 18th century.
As rounds of cake batter deep fry in lard, these were the simplest that doughnuts ever have been and interestingly not one yet taking on their ring form. Instead, they began as fruit or nut stuffed cakes, devised as a means to ensure proper cooking of the centre- the very same result later achieved with the punching of the hole so typical of donuts today. As the basis therefore from which the donut expanded to amass a greater identity along the girth of its diameter, the olykoek has to be the most dramatic of donuts ever despite its sufficient simplicity.