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National Doughnut week

10Th - 17th May 2014 is National Doughnut Week (UK)

Sponsored by The Children's Trust, a registered Charity


Most of us associate doughnuts (sometimes shortened to donuts) with the USA, but fried dough has been eaten many European countries for hundreds of years, and possibly for as long as bread has been made : certainly well before the "new world" was colonised. So, it's a European invention?  Well, perhaps not. Here comes the spanner in the works.


Whilst it's true that the Puritans took a doughnut recipe with them to the US which they discovered during their stay in Holland, they did arrive to find that the Native American Indians were also preparing and cooking a form of doughnut.  Unfortunately,  how long they'd been preparing them is very difficult to say. So let's get back to what we definitely know. Doughnuts in Europe.


In Holland, Germany and France ,  fried "cakes" enjoy a long history and have, over the years, been particularly associated with Christmas and/or Lent. In Holland (Ollie-bollen) they were traditionally shaped into decorative knots and rolled in sugar;  in France (beignets) they were round or square shaped and also liberally sprinkled with icing or powdered sugar and in Germany  (fastnachtkuches or Berliners)  they were often filled with jam, as they are in the UK.


On the other hand, the ring doughnut as we know it,  is generally credited as being a US invention, despite the fact that many holed European fried confectioneries already existed.  Although John Blondell got the patent for the first ring doughnut cutter in 1872, it is thought to have been the idea of one Mason Gregory who was a sea captain. The story goes that he didn't like the stodgy dough in the centre of the usual round doughnuts: most  likely he was just impatient for them to cook through properly,  so he punched a hole in the centre with a tin pepper box.  The story is is further elaborated saying he would then place the doughnut onto the ships wheel to keep it safe.


By the way, the 1st Friday in June is National Doughnut day in the US and was established in 1938 by the Chicago Salvation Army to raise funds during the Great Depression.


Many other countries also have their own versions of doughnuts. Local equivalents include Sufganiyah from Israel,  zooloobiya from Iran and further afield Sata andagi from Japan,  Donat Kentang from Indonesia and koeksuster from South Africa.


In support of The Children's Trust's objectives, we are not going to feature a recipe for home made doughnuts on this page because the aim is to encourage you to buy them from participating bakeries. However, why not buy lots more doughnuts than you can eat in one day,  then try the recipe below - an adapted version of Bread Pudding using stale (1-2 day old) doughnuts.  It's all for a good cause!


Doughnut Pudding    Veg  HT  CD  DP   CBF British   55mins plus soaking and cooling


Serves   4       Hot   Cold  Vegetarian  Dried Fruit  Alcohol  Cakes  baked Fayre  Desserts Britain  Europe



225g/8oz  Jam or Plain Ring Doughnuts or Yum Yums (bought from a participating bakery - see here for a list)

125g/5oz Raisins

100g/4oz Soft Brown Sugar

1/4 teasp Mixed Spice

600ml/1pt. Milk

100g/4oz Butter

4 Eggs, beaten

1 tbsp Brandy or Sherry  (optional)



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1. Break the doughnuts into smallish pieces and place in a large mixing bowl together with the  raisins, half of the sugar and the mixed spice. Mix well then add the milk and leave to soak for 30 minutes.


2. Preheat the oven to 190C, 375F, Gas mark 5 and lightly grease a square baking tin.


3. Place the butter in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted.


4. Stir the beaten eggs, melted butter and brandy or sherry into the bread mixture, mix well, then pour into the greased baking tin. Bake for 45 minutes until browned and set.


5. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining sugar and allow to cool.  Once cold, cut into squares.


This can also be served hot as a dessert with whipped cream.



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