A traditional Greek doughnut: large, light, and perfectly sweet
Do you know how excited we are to share this recipe with you? We’re not sure you can fully appreciate our glee; we are so proud that we are finally including this classic Greek dessert (and often breakfast), into our repertoire of Mia Kouppa recipes.
Large, light, and perfectly sprinkled with crunchy sugar, these are the classic Greek doughnut. Confused? Curious? Maybe, and we don’t blame you. It seems that often, when someone refers to Greek doughnuts they are talking about loukoumades, those fried balls of dough that are typically covered in honey. Loukoumades are delicious! But, just like pastitsio is not Greek lasagna (we’re practically begging you to get on board with that) we argue that referring to loukoumades as Greek doughnuts does a disservice to both. Loukoumades are loukoumades, and Greek sugar doughnuts, are these! Having said that, it is true that some people refer to these sugar doughnuts as loukoumades tis paralias (beach loukoumades), but in our family, and on our beach, they were always sugar doughnuts (or donats me zahari) 🙂
Extreme? Maybe. But we feel a special kinship with these sugar doughnuts. While in Greece, this was our typical breakfast. Our aunt would often be the first one up and she would head to the bakery down the road and return with a paper bag full of freshly made sugar doughnuts. With a glass of milk, and when we were older with a cup of Greek coffee, this was how we began our day; especially special because at home breakfast was never dessert! We were allowed one doughnut a day, and on the days when breakfast was fresh eggs instead, we got our doughnut fix on the beach. The beach in Kalamata always had a vendor walking up and down the pebbled shore, offering sugar doughnuts that he displayed on a long wooden stick. Think ice cream truck, Greek-style.
Because they knew how much we loved them, our parents tell us that they spent a few years trying to replicate these classic Greek doughnuts. We’re not sure that it was actually years, but even if it was, it was well worth it. This recipe is almost identical to the doughnuts we had in Greece. All that’s missing is our aunt, and the beach.
We’ve made these doughnuts using a traditional doughnut cutter; you know, the kind with the two circular shapes attached to make the perfect doughnut shape. Although this works just fine, it does not give us the doughnuts we remember. The doughnuts in Greece are large, and lovely. So, we instead do what our parents do and use two circular cutters, one larger than the other, to make the doughnut, and the doughnut hole. We end up with fewer doughnuts that are approximately 4 1/2 inches in diameter. The perfect size we think. If you do make smaller doughnuts, keep in mind that you will likely need to decrease your cooking time.
The use of shortening and butter in this recipe is pretty essential. The combination gives a great flavour and great texture. Remember, our parents rarely use either butter or shortening, so if they say you must for this recipe, you must.
You can purchase the superfine sugar called for in this recipe although it is often hard to find. Instead, do what our parents do and make your own. Instructions on how to do this are in the recipe notes in the recipe box.
These doughnuts are best eaten the day they are made, or the day after. You probably won’t have any left after that, so it doesn’t really matter that they are less great on day 3.
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Sugar doughnuts (Ντόνατς με ζάχαρη)
- Stand mixer with paddle and dough hook attachment; doughnut cutter or two circular cutters; small frying pan; cooling racks; blender if you will be making your own superfine sugar
- 1 cup (250 mL) milk whole or 2% milk fat, at room temperature
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 2 cups (300 grams) all purpose flour might need to use an extra 1/3 cup of flour
- 3 tbsp (45 grams) superfine sugar see note
- 1 tbsp dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp vanilla powder or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbsp (30 grams) butter softened
- 2 tbsp (27 grams) vegetable shortening softened
- vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar for coating your doughnuts
- Combine the milk and the vinegar. Stir and let stand at room temperature for approximately 5 minutes and then stir again. This will make sour milk, which will curdle slightly.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sour milk with 1 tablespoon of the superfine sugar and the dry yeast. Mix well to dissolve the yeast.
- Add 3/4 cup flour to the bowl, mix well to create a smooth paste and then cover with plastic wrap and let the flour mixture rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, to the bowl with the flour mixture add the remaining 2 tablespoons superfine sugar, eggs, butter and vegetable shortening. Mix on low speed using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer until all is well combined. Then, switch to your dough hook attachment and add 1 1/4 cups flour, the salt and vanilla.
- Mix well on low speed until the dough starts to come together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be smooth and somewhat sticky, but you should be able to roll it out at this point if you needed to (which you don't). In order to reach this dough consistency, you may need to add up to an additional 1/3 cup flour. Add any additional flour slowly, 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes have passed, punch down on your dough to remove any gas bubbles which may have formed. Then, cover your bowl once more with plastic wrap and keep the dough in your refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
- When you are ready to make your doughnuts, roll out your chilled dough on a surface which has been lightly floured. Roll the dough to 1/2 inch thickness and use a doughnut cutter to form your doughnuts. We like to use 2 round cutters to make the large doughnuts which are more traditionally and typically Greek.
- Transfer your doughnuts to a parchment lined baking sheet. When you have finished shaping your doughnuts, cover them loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Heat enough vegetable oil to come up 1/2 inch in your frying pan. We like to use a small frying pan so that we can fry one doughnut at a time. When your oil is quite hot, carefully slip one doughnut into the oil. Cook over medium high heat for approximately 60 seconds per side. Using 2 forks makes flipping your doughnuts over quite easy.
- Transfer your cooked doughnuts to a cooling rack. Repeat until all of your doughnuts are fried.
- In a shallow bowl add the granulated sugar. Transfer your doughnuts, one at a time to the dish and shake them gently so that they get coated with the sugar. Flip your doughnut and repeat so that both sides are coated with sugar. Repeat with all of your doughnuts.