Iced, filled with jam or covered in sprinkles, SOPHIE BROWNSON takes a look at the lure of the doughnut.
HOMER SIMPSON loves them, they are a staple of the US breakfast, and the cliche is that American cops can't get enough of them.
And with the rise of doughnut outlets in the UK, they've never been more popular as a sweet treat.
So what better subject for this week's food and drink pages?
Everyone has their favourite. The two most common types are the ring doughnut and the filled doughnut—which is injected with fruit preserves, cream, custard, or other sweet fillings.
And a small spherical piece of dough cut from the interior of a ring doughnut may be cooked as a doughnut hole. Other shapes include rings, balls, and flattened spheres, as well as ear shapes, twists and other forms. Doughnut varieties are also divided into cake and risen type doughnuts.
So how are they made?
Ring doughnuts are formed by joining the ends of a long, skinny piece of dough into a ring or by using a doughnut cutter, which simultaneously cuts the outside and inside shape, leaving a doughnut-shaped piece of dough and a doughnut hole from dough removed from the centre.
A disc-shaped doughnut can also be stretched and pinched into a round until the centre breaks to form a hole.
Doughnuts can be made from a yeast-based dough for raised doughnuts or from a special type of cake batter.
Cake doughnuts are fried for about 90 seconds at approximately 190 °C to 198 °C, turning once. Yeast-raised doughnuts absorb more oil because they take longer to fry, about 150 seconds, at 182 °C to 190 °C. Cake doughnuts typically weigh between 24 g and 28 g, whereas yeast-raised doughnuts average 38 g and are generally larger when finished.
One theory suggests doughnuts were invented in North America by Dutch settlers. In the 19th century, doughnuts were sometimes referred to as one kind of oliekoek (a Dutch word literally meaning "oil cake"), a "sweetened cake fried in fat."
The ring doughnut is claimed to have been invented by Hanson Gregory, an American, in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was only 16 years old.
The tale goes that Gregory was dissatisfied with the greasiness of doughnuts twisted into various shapes and with the raw centre of regular doughnuts. He claimed to have punched a hole in the dough with the ship's tin pepper box, and later taught the technique to his mother.
In the 19th Century, British cooks were noticing the US treat. And it wasn't long before they became popular here.
In some parts of Scotland, ring doughnuts are referred to as doughring. Glazed, twisted rope-shaped doughnuts are known as yum-yums. It is also possible to buy fudge doughnuts in certain regions of Scotland. Fillings include jam, custard, cream, sweet mincemeat, chocolate and apple. Common ring toppings are sprinkle-iced and chocolate.
And in Northern Ireland, ring doughnuts are known as 'gravy rings', gravy being an archaic term for hot cooking oil.
Organisers of the upcoming National Doguhnut Week in May are hoping to use the sugary snack as a fundraiser for charity.;
Running from May 10 to 17, and founded by independent baker Christopher Freeman in 1991, the week has so far raised a total of £755,000 for children's charities with the sale of over 14 million doughnuts.
The Children's Trust became the chosen charity for the week in 2005 and has received £250,000 from the event.
With even more excuse to tuck in, the week also offers the opportunity to support your local participating baker or coffee shop and raise money for charity at the same time.
Phil Tufnell, Vice President of The Children’s Trust said: “I'm delighted to be supporting National Doughnut Week again.
“I urge craft bakers and coffee shops across the UK to take part this year and help raise money for The Children's Trust, a very special charity that is celebrating its 30th anniversary.
“I hope, too, that the general public will get behind this enjoyable fundraising week, and treat their family, friends and work colleagues to a delicious doughnut treat."
We asked Gwent people their favourite doughnuts.
Award-winning wedding photographer Nick Murray said that his favourite was Krispy Kreme Caramel Crunch, while artist Nathan Wyburn favoured raspberry glazed.
Meanwhile Jon Powell of Newport’s The Kiosk said his favourites were: “Choc donut, with choc filling and chic icing, or hot sugared ones at the seaside.”
Gareth Finch of Newport based Convey Law favoured the Chocolate Dreamcake from Krispy Kreme.
Alun Davies said: “I like doughnuts. All doughnuts. But especially jam doughnuts.”
Popular topping include caramel, nuts, fruit and chocolate which can be easily adapted to the basic doughnut recipe.
There are plenty of ways to help support the week either by treating family, friends or work colleagues to a delicious doughnut, or holding a ‘doughnut party’ for friends and family.
For further inspirational fundraising ideas, visit The Children’s Trust or National Doughnut Week website: www.thechildrenstrust.org.uk/doughnuts or www.nationaldoughnutweek.org.uk
Crispy and Creamy Ring Doughnut Recipe
By The Children’s Trust
2 (7g) sachets dried active baking yeast
60ml warm water (45 C)
355ml (12 fl oz) lukewarm milk
100g (4 oz) caster sugar
1 teaspoon salt
70g (3 oz) butter
625g (1 1/3 lb) plain flour
1L (1 3/4 pints) vegetable oil for frying
75g (3 oz) butter
200g (7 oz) icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
60ml hot water or as needed
Prep: 10minutes Cook: 30minutes Ready in: 40minutes
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water, and let stand for five minutes, or until foamy.
In a large bowl, mix together the yeast mixture, milk, sugar, salt, eggs, 75g butter and 1/2 of the flour. Mix for a few minutes at low speed, or stirring with a wooden spoon. Beat in remaining flour a little at a time, until the dough no longer sticks to the bowl. Knead for about five minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough into a greased bowl, and cover. Set in a warm place to rise until double. Dough is ready if you touch it, and the indention remains.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and gently roll out to 1cm (1/2 in) thickness. Cut with a floured round cutter. Let doughnuts sit out to rise again until double. Cover loosely with a cloth.
Melt remaining butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in icing sugar and vanilla until smooth. Remove from heat, and stir in hot water one tablespoon at a time until the icing is somewhat thin, but not watery. Set aside.
Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large heavy pan to 175 C. Slide doughnuts into the hot oil using a wide spatula. Turn doughnuts over as they rise to the surface. Fry doughnuts on each side until golden brown. Remove from hot oil and drain on a wire rack. Dip doughnuts into the glaze while still hot, and set onto wire racks to drain off excess. Keep a baking tray under racks for easier clean up.
By Bruno Pinho of The Village Bakery, Caerleon
300g strong white flour (Either self raising or plain depending on use of yeast)
30g fast active yeast (only to be used with plain flour)
1 pinch of salt
10g milk powder
Sieve the flour into a bowl and add in the fat, mixing until it forms breadcrumbs.
Then mix in a small amount of the water with the yeast to dissolve it, and add the salt to the rest of the water and add it to the mix.
Next add the sugar and beat in the egg.
Once all the ingredients have been added to the mix, knead the dough until it is really smooth and it becomes elastic.
Then cover the dough with cling film or a wet warm cloth until it has doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 65 g pieces and make in to a little ball before letting it double in size again.
Then either using a deep fryer at 70oc or 180oc, or a frying pan, fry the dough balls for eight to ten minutes.
Then let the dough cool down and stick scissors into one side of the doughnut and make a little cut and pour in the jam.