Happy National Doughnut Day! I’m convinced that fried dough is a universal language, so if you haven’t already gone down to your local doughnut shop to get your hands on this quintessential American classic, check out these sweet, tantalizing and artery-clogging recipes from around the world. We recommend you go and try all of them, but you might want to check with your doctor first.
1. Struffoli, Italy
This succulent pyramid of goodness is a popular dish at my house around Christmas and Easter (and I always get in trouble for sneaking pieces before dinner). Struffoli hales from Naples, Italy and is often piled into a pyramid-like structure. Unlike the traditional doughnut, they’re small and pack a crunchy punch that reveals a soft, airy inside. They’re often coated in honey and sprinkled with cinnamon, orange rinds or sprinkles.
2. Tulumba, Turkey
The Tulumba originated in Turkey but is a popular dish in Egypt, Croatia, Greece, Bosnia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania. It’s made by squeezing unleavened dough through a bag to create the ridges which are then fried until golden brown. Then, it’s coated in a sweet syrup and served cold. In some cultures, it’s popular to serve with ground pistachios.
3. Jalebi, India
It’s believed that this amazing edible lattice work originates from Ancient India. Today it is popular throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East and goes by many different names. In India, this sweet treat is served at Independence Day and Republic Day. First, they drop the raw batter into hot oil in a specific pattern to make a beautiful circular design. The result is a chewy delight which they then coat in crystallized sugar and a sweet syrup which sometimes contains rosewater or lime juice.
4. Koeksisters, South Africa
This South African classic gets its name from the Dutch word koekje which means “cookie.” The first step in making a koeksister is flavoring the dough with cardamom, ginger, aniseed and cinnamon. The second step is braiding or twisting the dough, then it’s into the fryer. Finally, they’re dipped in a sugar syrup that tastes like honey and sprinkled with coconut shavings. There are two versions to this doughnut: the Cape Malay version (from which the name comes from) has the texture of a cake and is shaped like a dumping. The Afrikaner version is crisp and has a lot more sticky syrup. Traditionally, koeksisters were baked and sold to support local charities.
5. Beignes de Noël, Canada
While the good ol’ US of A may be the fattest country around, the Canadians must be a close second. Canada not only has the most doughnut stores per capita but is also consumes the most doughnuts per year. Impressive, eh? Beignes de Noel are a traditional Canadian doughnut and are especially popular in Quebec. They’re typically served as a Christmas dessert, glazed with sugar icing and served warm.
6. Lalmohan, Nepal
Also known as gulab jamun, this fried dough dumpling is very popular on the Indian subcontinent. In Nepal, lalmohan is a dessert for every occasion, especially weddings and birthdays. The batter consists of curdled milk and a pinch of flour kneaded into a dough. It’s then fried at a low temperature and soaked in a sugar syrup flavored with green cardamom, rosewater and saffron.
7. Faschingskrapfen, Germany
While the name is more than a mouthful, these fist-sized doughnuts are also called Berliners or “pancakes.” They are usually filled with a fruit jam; the most traditional ones are strawberry and plum. In Austria, another variation has apricot filling. Much like their American cousins, these doughnuts can come with either icing or powdered sugar on top. It’s customary to serve doughnuts at New Year’s Eve and have eggnog icing varieties during Christmas. But be warned: sometimes people like to play practical jokes by filling the doughnuts with mustard or onions!
8. Rosquillas, Spain
This doughnut recipe dates back to the Roman Empire and eventually spread to Europe and the Mediterranean. Typically, these treats are served on Easter but there are several varieties to choose from. “Rosquillas Tontas” are very simple and lack in any sort of flavoring except for anise (what a a shame). “Rosquillas Listas” can be made in various different colors and are coated with icing. “Rosquillas de Santa Clara” are baked with an egg white finish then coated with meringue. “Francesas” are covered in chopped almonds. “The Blind Doughnut” (my favorite) don’t have a hole in the middle, which is where they get their name from. Try them all!
9. Kuih Keria, Malaysia
Have you ever had a sweet potato doughnut? Me neither. This Malaysian classic is “healthier” than all the others, has a unique flavor and a super cool orange color. They’re simply fried and coated in a sugar icing, which sounds easy enough to make at home.
10. Oliebol, Belgium
I’m beginning to think that I should move to Belgium. If their chocolate and waffles aren’t enough to convince you, check out their doughnuts! Traditionally eaten on New Year’s Eve and at fairs, these little pieces of golden brown deliciousness literally translate to “oil balls.” In Flanders and Brussels, they’re called smoutebollen (“lard balls”) because they’re fried in animal fat instead of vegetable oil. In any case, the genuises in Belgium integrate currants, grapes, raisins, or candied citrus peel into the dough before frying it. The most popular variation substitutes the previously mentioned dried fruit for apple slices.
If your heart hasn’t stopped just from reading this article, go down to your local bakery to get yourself a doughnut! Or, search any of the international doughnuts above to find an easy recipe if they’re not available at a specialty/ethnic bakery. We hope that you enjoy National Doughnut Day!
Tell us: what’s the best doughnut you’ve ever had?