Why do donuts have holes?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Donuts have holes for a few reasons. The main reason is to ensure that the dough is cooked evenly throughout. When you fry a solid ball of dough, the outside gets cooked faster than the inside. This can result in a crispy or burnt exterior while the inside remains doughy and undercooked.

By punching a hole in the middle of the dough, it allows the heat to penetrate the center more effectively. The hot oil surrounds the entire surface area of the dough, including the inside of the hole, allowing it to cook more evenly. This ensures that the doughnut is fully cooked all the way through, resulting in a delicious and consistent texture.

I remember one time when I attempted to make doughnuts without punching a hole in the middle. The outside of the dough cooked quickly and turned golden brown while the inside remained raw. It was disappointing to bite into a seemingly delicious doughnut only to find a doughy and undercooked center.

Additionally, the hole in the middle of the doughnut helps with the overall texture and shape of the pastry. Without the hole, the doughnut would be a dense and heavy ball of dough. The hole creates a lighter and fluffier texture, making it easier to eat and enjoy.

Another reason for the hole in the doughnut is related to its history. The origin of the doughnut can be traced back to Dutch settlers in the United States. They would make a sweet dough, similar to what we know as doughnuts today, and fry it in hot oil. However, the dough was often thick and dense, resulting in an undercooked center. To combat this, they started using a round metal object, such as a tin can, to punch a hole in the middle of the dough. This helped the dough cook more evenly and created the iconic shape we associate with doughnuts today.

In addition to the practical reasons for the hole, the shape of a doughnut with a hole also allows for better distribution of toppings or fillings. Whether it’s a glaze, frosting, or a creamy filling, having a hole in the middle allows for easier and more even distribution. This makes the doughnut more enjoyable to eat, as each bite contains a balanced combination of flavors.

To summarize, doughnuts have holes to ensure even cooking throughout the dough, resulting in a perfectly cooked pastry. The hole also contributes to the overall texture and shape of the doughnut, making it lighter and more enjoyable to eat. The historical origins of the doughnut also played a role in the development of the hole, as it helped solve the issue of undercooked centers. So next time you bite into a delicious doughnut, remember the importance of that little hole in the middle.