History Dish Mondays: Dough Nuts

I just…didn’t get a good photo this time.

Donuts have a long history in America, having said to be brought here by Dutch settlers, who landed in New York in 1614.
This recipe uses a chemical leavener instead of yeast, making the taste and texture like a historic funnel cake.


Dough Nuts
Original Recipe from The Frugal Housewife, Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy. By Lydia Maria Francis Child Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1830.
Modern Recipe adapted from the Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook.
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Fat or oil for deep frying
1. Sift and measure flour; mix in baking powder and cinnamon.
2. Cream butter and sugar.
3. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each egg.
4. Slowly ass dry ingredients in three batches, mixing well at a low speed after each batch.
5. Preheat an electric fryer to 375 degrees.
6. Carefully spoon blobs of dough into the hot oil. Flip when the bottoms turn brown. The dough should fry between 90 seconds- 2 minutes.
7. Remove from oil and pile onto a plate covered with paper towels. While hot, sprinkle with sugar and additional cinnamon.

I used my boyfriend’s deep fryer, and heated the oil to a little above 375, since it cools when you drop the batter in. This was my first time making dough nuts from scratch, and also my first time using a deep fryer. I drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil, no bigger than an inch. They will poof up to three times their size, and if the balls are too big, they get dense and undercooked in the middle.

I sprinkled my hot Dough Nuts with granulated sugar and cinnamon, but I think powdered sugar would have been even better. This recipe makes about two dozen. They were delicious–but quite rich and heavy, so I would recommend either halving this recipe, or inviting over a bunch of friends

I found the taste and texture to be delightful, the outside crispy and the inside cake warm and tender. Not at all dense like most cakes from the time period. Between three people, we probably ate about a dozen.

I think it’s interesting that the recipe specifically calls for cinnamon, which was not commonly used in the first half of the 19th century. Perhaps it was considered a breakfast spice–I found another recipe that recommends it for pancakes, as well. I’d be interested to try a batch flavored with lemon brandy; A teaspoon of lemon extract would probably be a good substitution.

I also found a recipe for Dought Nuts levened with yeast from Directions For Cookery, In Its Various Branches (1830) by Miss Eliza Leslie. She has a few interesting notes on the receipt:

“They should be eaten quite fresh, as next day they will be tough and heavy; therefore it is best to make no more than you want for immediate use. The New York Oley Koeks are dough-nuts with currants and raisin in them.”

I’d like to try to make a traditional Oley Koek for a future HDM.

Rating: A.
A tasty, filling, sweet treat. Would be great for a party. Everyone loves fried food!