What Makes A Donut Old Fashioned?

The old-fashioned donut, known for its odd shape yet well-loved flavors, is a confusing concept. There are many kinds of donuts, and it can be hard to know what makes each one unique and specific to their kind. Whether you love a classic Krispy Kreme donut with a sweet glaze or a Federal Donuts one with toppings and icing galore, you aren't able to call yourself a donut fanatic unless you know the differences between these staple everyday donuts.

It turns out there are two different ways a donut can be made, creating a unique experience depending on the cooking process. Then you get subsets of those two kinds of donuts, creating a whole donut pyramid of delicious sweets (via Myrecipes.) When it comes to classifying donuts, we all know there are different kinds, but knowing what kind of donuts each one is can be a little more tricky. Let's consider the old-fashioned donut — known by many, but not quite understood by all — and find out what makes it what it is?

Yeast versus cake

To understand what an old-fashioned donut is, you must understand the difference between a cake donut and a yeast donut. Using yeast in the mixture allows the dough to rise before cooking, similar to bread. Since the donut rises, it is able to be shaped into that donut shape we are all familiar with before being fried. Yeast donuts don't usually have much flavor in the dough, rather, they mostly rely on toppings to give them the sweet flavors we all know and love, explains Bon Appetit.

A cake donut, on the other hand, is a newer idea in terms of the history of donuts. The batter of a cake donut is made up of flour, eggs, milk, and baking soda or powder. Since it uses baking soda instead of yeast, it creates a chemical reaction that causes it to rise the moment it's in the oil, rather than rising and then cooking (via Eater.) The cake donut is a little denser than a yeast donut, similar to a muffin, and has a little more freedom in terms of flavors instead of just relying on the toppings.

Which type is the old fashioned donut?

What makes an old-fashioned a little bit different from a cake donut is the final shape it gets, with ridges on the outside and some cracks all around. This is due to a thicker batter used for old-fashioned donuts, allowing the dough to actually be shaped, they are also usually given a nice glaze after they are fried, notes The Donut Whole.

So, why are they called old-fashioned donuts if yeast donuts came first? According to one Reddit thread, some sources say it's because original old-fashioned donut recipes called for yeast. Others say it's because their cracked form takes on the shape of the original donut, the Dutch olykoeks or "oily cake." The oily cakes were brought to Manhattan in the 1600s and were made with yeast, eggs, butter, and spices, fried in pork fat and topped with sugar (via Logically.) Why not try out this old-fashioned donut recipe, and determine if a cake donut is for you, or if yeast is more your donut style.