Key Blends

Food Ingredients

A cake donut is unique in that its is unlike that of most baked products. Cake donuts are deep fat fried, without a container or pan to control the shape of the product. The frying fat is not only the heat transfer medium but also becomes a major ingredient. A fried cake donut will typically contain 20-25% moisture and 20-25% fat of which 80-85% is absorbed fry fat.

A vertical cross section of a cake donut indicates it is made up of three zones:

(1) The crust or outer surface is usually a crisp, medium brown area. This area of the cake donut has been exposed directly to the hot fry fat, resulting in a loss of most of the moisture and it absorbed a relatively high amount of frying shortening. Moisture will eventually migrate to this area and the crispness will be lost over time.

(2) The next zone, which makes up the bulk of the cake donut, is called the baked zone. This area is very cake-like, has absorbed little fat, but has been exposed to sufficient heat for a normal leavening and the gelatinization of the starch to have taken place.

(3) The core of a cake donut, is a semi-firm, dense area which was exposed to insufficient heat with the result that incomplete leavening occurred, This unleavened dense region has a high moisture content, nearly that of the original batter. A small amount of Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate will reduce the core. Over time some of this excess moisture migrates to the surface of the cake donut, destroying the crisp nature of the crust and accelerating the breakdown of the donut coating sugar.

Temperature Control

The temperature of ingredients should be as close to 80F as Possible. The cold mix will not perform up to standards.  Cold batters will encourage cracking of the crust which is desired in Old fashion Donuts, but not blooming cake donuts.

The temperature of the water is the variable that enables the baker to reach a desired final dough temperature. The friction of Mixing is heat generated by the mixing action and must be taken into consideration when figuring final dough temperature.  The temperature of the mix and the bakery will also have an effect on the finished donut batter temperature.

It is not desirable to use water temperatures above 92F, because of the danger of leavening reaction during mixing. When such a water temperature is required, the situation can be corrected by storing the mix in a warmer environment.

Conversely, using water below 45F can cause problems as the solubility of certain ingredients is reduced, and the flour wetting for development may not take place.

Water Temperature Calculation

Water Temperature: 3 times the desired batter temperature minus the sum of room temperature, mix temperature, and friction input.

Example: Room Temperature = 85°F

Mix Temperature = 70°F

Desired Batter Temperature = 72°F

Friction Input Factor = 3

Water Temperature = 3 X 72 - ( 85 + 70 - 3) = 64°F

Mixing of Cake Donuts

Critical control points in mixing and scaling include:

• The weight of the mix, the water and the sugar and any other ingredients. Never assume the bags are correctly weighed. Always double check,  bags are often off by 1-2 lbs per bag.

• Water Temperature will control the temperature of the mix.

• Order of addition, water, and oil should be added to mixing bowl first, the Flour should be second, the concentrate third and sugar should be last. This will prevent the formation of dry pockets and  the formation of lumps with old batter on sides and bottom of the bowl.

• The degree of mixing, standard mixing times are only guidelines since the mixing time is dependent upon the configuration and RPM of the actual mixer and/or bowl used. Once optimum mixing conditions are established for each mixer, they should be posted at the mixer station. Typical mixing times are one minute at low RPM to incorporate the ingredients followed by 2-3 minutes at high speed to properly develop the batter.

• Initiation of mixing, mixing should be started immediately after the addition of the mix to the bowl. Allowing mix to stand in contact with the water can result in water-leavening reactions and lumps.

• Mixer and bowl conditions, minimum clearances between the paddle and bowl are necessary to minimize formations of dry pockets or lumps. Many mixers will have scrapers on the paddles. Dented bowls or dropping paddles can damage the scrapers or change the clearances. The ratio of mix size to bowl size is an important factor. In order to obtain the same degree of development when making a reduced or increased batch size, the mixing time will have to be adjusted.

The two key factors of cake donut mixing are gluten development and aeration of the dough.  It is very difficult to judge the development of a cake donut as compared to yeast doughs.  However, the effects of under mixing and over mixing can be seen in the finished cake donut.

Under mixing causes: 

  1. Low Volume
  2. No Star Formation
  3. Excess cracks on crust
  4. Poor star formation
  5. Balling
  6. Doughy core
  7. Excessive spread
  8. High fat absorption
  9. Breakage in sugar machines
  10. Over mixing causes
  11. Low volume
  12. Crust cracking
  13. Skin like crust
  14. Peeling of crust from center
  15. Exaggerated star formation
  16. Uneven bloom
  17. Hard cores
  18. Balling
  19. Low-fat absorption
  20. Excessive dough toughness
  21. Poor keeping qualities

Cake Donut Batter Floor Time

This is a critical point since this allows the balance of the hydration to take place and the dough to stiffen.  Normal floor times range from 10 to 20 minutes depending on the type of mix.  This floor time is critical for consistent uniformity during the cutting of the donuts.  Floor time will cause the dough to stiffen and the fat absorption will decrease slightly.  Proper floor time will produce donuts that are more uniform and will have more consistent weights.  However, since the dough will be stiffer, more water is required and this could affect the stability of donut sugar coatings.  Old fashion donuts  with a cracked crust should have minimal floor time.

Floor time tolerance is an important aspect to consider when selecting a mix in a commercial plant.  

Cake Donut Cutters

Cutter overlap in pressure cut cake donuts regulates size or weight.  The overlap determines the size of the orifice through which the dough flows.  The size of the opening and  the pressure behind it controls the size of the donut.

Cutter Size  

Pressure Cut
Gravity Cut
Fried Donut Weight
Ounces per dozen
1 1/4 1 4 1/2 to 6 oz
1 3/8 1 1/8 6 to 7 1/2
1 1/2 1 1/4 7 1/2 to 11
1 3/4 1 1/2 10 to 16
1 7/8 1 5/8 14 to 19
2 1 3/4 17 to 20
2 3/16 1 7/8 19 to 22

In gravity fed machines, the flow is not identical to all cutters.  Weight is regulated from cutter to cutter to maintain uniformity.  The cutters towards the outer ends have less overlap than the center. 

The shaping of the donuts is controlled slightly by the overlap.  Cracked topped old fashion donuts have little to no overlap.

Frying of Cake Donuts

The fryer must be set at the proper temperature, speed, and fat depth.

The following changes occur during the frying

A.     A sudden release of leavening gas as soon as the dough hits the fat

B.    When enough gas is released, the dough rises to the surface of the fat.  (the time from the drop to the rise is call rise time)

C.    There is a rapid thickening of the dough from the setting of starch, flour and other protein coagulates providing the structure of the donut.

D.    As the donut rises through the fat, a break appears in the surface of the dough, either at the fat level or just above it. (the time from drop to this break appearance is call break time)

E.    There are projections that appear from the break in the dough surface reaching inward toward the center of the hole. When these projections are even (star formation), the donut is said to break evenly.

F.    As the donut reaches the turner, the bottom crust is formed and colored.  The dough is substantially coagulated except for an area of about 60 percent extending over the center of the donut.  This is the wet bloom.

G.    A donut should be turned just when the bubbling gasses from the wet area begin to occur. after turning the wet surface, the dough undergoes the same process except no break and star from.

With varieties other than the blooming cake donut, the progression might vary slightly.

Sugar Adhesion

The amount of sugar adhesion depends on the formulation of the donut sugar, the ratio of sugar to cake donuts in the sugar machine, the frying fat used, the roughness of the crust, the donut surface temperature, the sugar temperature, the contact time of the donut to the sugar, and the purity of the sugar.

To make the product more stable: increase cooling time, reduce water in the donut, increase fry time and temperature (all of these reduces the water in the donut).  In addition increase the amount of sugar adhesion so that there is more sugar (if a little melts away, there is still plenty there).

Discoloration of the sugar is caused by low-fat solids.  The fat melts out and discolors the sugar. This can be a problem in today's palm based fry fats.  Palm oils are a mixture of high melt point fats and low melt point fats.  Palm Stearine is very waxy and it must be blended with palm olein to make a decent fat.  The low melt point oleins can oil out and discolor the sugar.


Cake Donut Trouble Shooting

Problem  Possible cause
 Low Volume cake donuts Too little water
Over mixing
Low batter temperature
Wrong cutter size
 Cake Donuts with High-fat absorption Under mixing
Bad fat (foaming or high FFA)
Low cutter speed
Low dough temperature
Too little water
 Cake Donuts with Low-fat absorption Over mixing
Fat too fresh (low FFA)
Too much water
High dough temperature
Excessive floor time
 Cake Donuts Balling Too little water
Too little cutter overlap
Fry temperature too low
Excessive floor time
Over mixing
 Cake Donuts with Excessive spread Too low fry temperature
Too much cutter overlap
Too much water
Under mixing
Low-fat level in fryer
 Cake Donuts with Uneven bloom Too short cutter stroke
Over mixing
Damaged cutters
 Cake Donuts too tender Under mixing
Fat is broken down
Not enough floor time
 Cake Donuts too tough High dough temperature
Fat too fresh
Too much water
Excessive floor time
Too fast cutter speed
Dry Cake Donuts Too much cooling
Too much frying
High dough temperature
Excessive floor time
Defective packaging
 Sugar white melting off cake donuts Packed too hot
Too much water
Donuts are not cooled enough
 Low sugar white pick up on cake donuts Donuts over cooled
Need IR lights to heat donut skin before tumblers