Nice and crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. They come in all flavors, either sprinkled on top or filled inside. That’s how I think of doughnuts, to me, they are the best snack in the world. Doughnuts bring back memories of fun childhood and quiet afternoons munching on their sweet goodness. Really, what is it with donuts that have got people crazy over them? And are all donuts the same the world over?
Donuts can be best described as a kind of bread that is cooked by frying. Yes, that’s right. You cook donuts by frying them in hot oil. Unlike the usual baked fare we see in bakeries, donuts are kneaded, shaped, and then dunked into a fryer. The result is bread that is nice and chewy to the bite. This also explains why donuts have their signature “hole” in the middle. Since the batter is fried, it’s possible that the middle part might not get cooked, so it is better remove before cooking.
There are also tons of variations on the donut. For example, there are bakeshops that offer donuts that are baked instead of fried. There are also donuts that, instead of sweet fillings, they use savory ingredients itself. Regardless of the variations, donuts will remain a favorite snack all over the world. Other countries also have their own versions of donuts that are without doubt delicious as well.
Let’s start with the zeppole, a pastry typical in peninsular Italian cuisine. It follows the same principle of donuts, where the dough is fried and served with custard or jelly filling. It is a light treat that is often eaten as a snack. You can see these at street fairs throughout the whole United States. There are also savory variants available where anchovy is used as filling. This variation is commonly eaten in Malta during the Lenten season.
Next in the list would be sufganiyah or sufganiyot. These are ball-shaped donuts that are deep-fried, injected with jelly and typically served warm. This is popularly eaten during the Hanukkah celebration in Jewish communities. While there are variants that exist (potato based and baked versions), the original sufganiyot is more popular as a Hanukkah treat.
We also have buñuelos, a popular snack from Spanish origins. These are small, ball-shaped fritters popular in Latin American countries, the Philippines and other places. It’s also considered to be an “essential” dish in many Mexican cuisines, where one cannot afford to miss serving it in these meals.
The Greeks also have their own version of the donut, which they call the loukoumades. Like buñuelos, these are also small, ball-shaped pastries that have been deep-fried and then served soaked with sugar syrup, honey or cinnamon. Loukoumades can also be served sprinkled with sesame (these are incredibly delicious).
Shtekeleh, or bicho-bicho, is a kind of pastry that is made from rice flour, shaped into small balls, and then deep-fried until golden brown. These are then coated with brown sugar syrup and served warm. This is a popular snack food in the Philippines and in other regions where rice flour is available. It’s the closest relative of the buñuelos.
There’s also the churro or churros, that the Spanish (and Mexicans) are proud of. These are fried sticks of dough that have a ridged pattern on them because they were squeezed from a star-shaped pastry syringe called the churrera. It’s a popular breakfast food item, where they are served hot and with a cup of hot chocolate as a dip. It’s not a very common pastry item in the United States in the past but, due to the increased interest in Latin American cuisine, can now be seen in some restaurants and bakeries.
Last but not the least are beignets. In the United States, these are pastry that are fried dough that is sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar or frosting. In France, the term beignet is used to describe all fried pastry that is filled with fruit. Beignets are quite popular in New Orleans. Beignets have also been given the title as the official state donuts of Louisiana.
No matter what your favorite type of doughnut, these are best enjoyed in moderation. Eating these on a daily basis can be hazardous to ones waistline and health. But then again, once in a while these can make for a truly delectable treat.