Recipe for home made doughnuts for Lent (or any time)

These doughnuts are made before lent in the Mennonite communities in Canada. They are light and flavourful and irresistable. This recipe makes enough for a party so if you are not planning a party, best cut it in half.

Home made doughnuts

Jane Mason
Doughnuts are one of the many ways people around the world celebrate Lent.  In the Mennonite community in Canada, they are called Fastnachts – literally "Fast Nights" where "Fast" means "to fast" as opposed to the opposite of slow!  So, these are eaten on the night before lenten fast – in other words, on Shrove Tuesday.  
These doughnuts are fun to make and may well be the most delicious doughnuts you have ever tried.  A far cry from cardboard flavoured mass produced ones.  The flavour comes from good ingredients and a very long fermentation time.  Start these doughnuts in the morning of the day you want to eat them or even the night before.  They sit around minding their own business for most of the time.
Prep Time 1 day 4 hours
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 30


  • Deep fat fryer or deep saucepan/wok for deep fat frying
  • Piping bag for injecting jam or custard (optional)
  • bowls, spoons, scraper, scale



  • 225 g finely mashed potatoes completely cooled down
  • 225 g water in which the potatoes were boiled completely cooled down
  • 125 g plain white wheat flour
  • 3 g instant yeast OR 6 g dry yeast OR 12 g fresh yeast


  • 225 g sugar
  • 200 g milk heated up to boiling point and cooled right down
  • 175 g butter melted and cooled right down
  • 3 eggs slightly beaten
  • 6 g salt
  • 825 g plain, white flour

To fry

  • 3-5 litres high smoke point oil for deep fat frying or clarified butter

To accompany – optional

  • maple syrup or cinnamon sugar
  • jam or custard


  • Several hours or the night before you want to eat the doughnuts, mix the ingredients together for the pre dough. Cover and let rest on the counter.
  • Three hours before you want doughnuts, prepare your dough. To do this, add all of the dough ingredients EXCEPT THE FLOUR to the pre dough. Mix it well with a big spoon and the gradually add in the flour, stirring all the time so there are no lumps. The result is the consistency of a thick batter. You can do this in a mixer if you have one that is big enough.
  • Cover and let this rest for 2 hours.
  • Scrape about half the dough out onto a well floured counter and scatter some flour on the top of the dough (there is a lot of dough, so just do half at a time).  Don't worry that the dough is quite loose.
  • Using a scraper, fold the left and then the right sides of the dough into the middle and then fold the top and the bottom of the dough into the middle, working as quickly as you can. Don't go for perfection, just go for four folds.
  • Flip the dough over and scatter some flour on the top. Using a rolling pin, or just your hands, gently roll or pat the dough until it is about 2.5 cm/1 inch thick. Depending on how absorbent your flour is, your dough may be loose enough to just flatten on its own without rolling, or it may require a spot of rolling.
  • Once you have rolled the dough, use a scraper to cut the dough into squares somewhere between 3-5 cm square. This may look small but they do rise and they do puff up in the oil. You can use a scone/biscuit cutter if you want to get perfectly round doughnuts. A scraper is faster, easier and there is no waste. Just saying….
    After cutting, separate the pieces of dough and, using scissors, make a diagonal snip across each doughnut. This snip enables the inside of the dough to cook quickly when you fry then. It rises out so don't worry about it. Lightly flour the tops and cover them with a dry tea towel to rest for one hour.
  • Repeat with the other half of the dough.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan or deep fat fryer to maximum 375 F or 190 C.  If you don't have a thermometer, test the temperature by dropping in a few bread crumbs. They should sizzle furiously immediately on hitting the oil You can also look to see if they drop to the bottom and begin to rise smoothly to the top. If they stay at the bottom, or rise unwillingly to the top, the oil is not hot enough. Do not let the oil smoke – that is a sign it is far too hot. Do not under any circumstances drop water in the oil. If you have never deep-fat-fried before please research a bit on the safety of deep fat frying.
  • Place a few doughnuts at a time into the oil.  Don’t crowd them.  If your oil is hot enough, they should take about 1.5 minutes a side to fry. You will see around the edge of the doughnut where it's floating in the oil that they begin to get brown and, when they do, they are ready to turn. When you turn them, they should be a dark, golden brown. If they are not, quickly flip them back over to cook a little longer on the first side. If you want, you can use a probe thermometer to test the inside temperature of a doughnut (take it out of the oil first). It should read over 90 degrees C.
  • Place the doughnuts on paper towel to drain them. Here in Canada, we roll them in plain or cinnamon sugar, or serve them on a plate with maple syrup. If you would like to make filled doughnuts, fill a wide-gauge syringe or a piping bag with jam or custard and jab it into the side of the doughnut to fill them.  It's fun to see them expand!
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Like this recipe?  I came from The Book of Buns, published in November 2013 and available on Amazon.  

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