Doughnut frying tips requested.
March 22, 2006 1:26 PM   Subscribe

Deep-frying n00b asks: How do I keep a consistent temperature when making doughnuts?

I've made doughnuts maybe three times. I'm using: a gas stove; a 6-qt stainless steel stockpot with an extra-thick base, possibly aluminum; your standard deep-frying thermometer; canola oil; and a quick, baking-powder-leavened recipe that is not rolled or refrigerated in advance - you drop the dough in by spoonfuls. I'd prefer not to buy any new equipment.

My main issue is keeping the oil at the right temperature. Is it just a matter of practice, or are there specific things I can do to keep things steady?
posted by expialidocious to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
it's hard to do.

also: putting a small peice of carrot into the oil is supposed to stop the oil from "shpritzing".
posted by Izzmeister at 1:32 PM on March 22, 2006

It's more a matter of practice - as you add any donuts to your oil, the oil is going to cool (the same thing happens with vegetables in boiling water). My guess (and I could be way off on this) is that you're working in too large of a batch - you write that you're dropping dough in by spoonfulls, but don't say how many spoonfuls nor how large of a spoon. Try working in smaller batches - there's not a terrible amount of surface area on a 6 qt. pot.
posted by jivadravya at 1:32 PM on March 22, 2006

1) Make sure you have enough oil. The more oil the less it will cool when something is added to it.

2) Cook just a few (or a couple) of donuts at a time.
posted by OmieWise at 1:36 PM on March 22, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. I've been doing 6 at a time, and they're between 1 and 2 tablespoons each. They end up a little larger than a regular doughnut hole - maybe hush puppy sized? I will try doing 2 at a time.

Further questions: how high can I fill up my pot with oil? Would it help to use a low flame when initially heating it?
posted by expialidocious at 1:47 PM on March 22, 2006

Agree with jivadravya. Work with two or three at a time. If you want more in a batch, go with a bigger pot. I hit up my friend the chef for advice, and he said a 10qt pot for home frying is a good place to start.
posted by boo_radley at 1:48 PM on March 22, 2006

Don't fill it too high - I would leave an inch and a half, or possibly more. Also, you'll want to purchase a china-cap or some other type of skimming tool to skim the oil after each batch, to remove the raft that collects on the top from frying (which would contribute to the cooling of the oil).

As far as flame height when heating - I start at about medium-high flame for oil. It depends tho - again on practice.
posted by jivadravya at 1:53 PM on March 22, 2006

how high can I fill up my pot with oil?
posted by expialidocious at 1:47 PM PST on March 22

As low as you can and still use it. You want your center of gravity low and your chance of spilling it even lower. Tipping over a few gallons of 350+ degree oil will ruin your stove, floor, and probably give you the worst burn you have ever had or could possibly ever think of. You know when the oil pops and hits your hand and you're like 'ow, motherfucker!'? Multiply that by infinity jillion and that's kind of what happens if you were to spill it onto your feet.

You probably already know all this, but that's the speech I give myself every time I am preparing to deep-fry something.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:06 PM on March 22, 2006

OK, you said you didn't want to buy new equipment, but a cheap electric deep fryer makes things waaaaay easier. the Fry Daddy is cheap. I have a small one and it's very useful.

The downside is that you can't play with the temperature. The upside is you're less likely to burn stuff.

After each batch you just let it sit for a minute to get the oil back up to temperature. I am way to chicken to put a big pot full of oil onto my stove.
posted by GuyZero at 2:10 PM on March 22, 2006

You might want to get a cast iron dutch oven or fryer, the iron holds more heat and will moderate the temperature change when the dough hits the oil.

The other comments regarding smaller batches are right on.

Please have a fire extinguisher nearby, oil can burn.
posted by Marky at 3:10 PM on March 22, 2006

Cast iron retains heat far, far more effectively than stainless steel. It's also incredibly cheap. I use a Dutch oven cast by Lodge for deep-frying chicken, doughnuts, etc.
posted by cribcage at 3:34 PM on March 22, 2006

And keep a lid handy, so you can cover the pot and smother a fire quickly. Even if you don't get the oil hot enough to combust, a tiny spill down the side on to the burner can lead a flame up to the pot.
posted by 445supermag at 4:20 PM on March 22, 2006

If you can't change your equipment (by getting a heavier pot), then just fry in smaller batches. You can use more oil, but that's a lot more trouble than it's worth IMHO.
posted by rxrfrx at 5:23 AM on March 24, 2006

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