We’re making donuts from scratch today–the yeasted, deep-fried, rectangular kind. Normally, I pair a gas station maple bar with cheap coffee, good conversation, and road trips but, these days I’ve been staying in. And so, to get my fix, I decided to make them.
Do you have any road trip rituals? I don’t know what I look forward to more, the destination or the drive itself. I suppose if I had the best of both worlds, I’d take a batch of these homemade maple long johns on my next road trip.
I’m confident these little beauties will become your donut of choice. They’ve definitely become mine. Here’s why I think you’ll love them:
- Made with pantry staples so when the donut craving strikes, you likely have everything on hand.
- Not overly sweet, flavorful and light: This yeasted dough has great flavor thanks to (an inactive) rise where the dough becomes soft and puffy for airy donuts. Plus, the icing gets a dose of real maple syrup, which cuts down on powdered sugar and gives enough maple flavor on its own. If you like a stronger maple presence, you should opt for the recommended maple extract.
- Easy to store, so you don’t over-eat: It may come as a surprise, but you can actually freeze these donuts! To reheat, simply microwave (instructions below). As for over-eating. I totally blazed through my bag in a week, but hypothetically, it’s possible to pace yourself.
PS: These nutella stuffed beignets
PPS: You can spike your maple glaze with coffee extract, too. I really like this one from Javy (affiliate link gets you 20% off)
Ready for the play-by-play? Let’s go:
Gather the dough ingredients. You can mix everything by hand or in a stand mixer.
Make the yeast happy.
In a small pot, heat the milk until warm but not hot, about skin temperature. Transfer the warmed milk to a large bowl and add the yeast and granulated sugar. Stir gently and wait a few minutes. Meanwhile, place a stick of butter back in the warm pot (off the heat) and allow it to melt fully.
Yeast Tip: Since the fat in milk slows down the yeast activity you are trying to encourage, it’s important to give them a head start with a little sugar and warmth. Between 5 and 20 minutes, you’ll see some tiny bubbles forming. This is a sign that your yeast is no longer dormant and will help your dough rise. In the unlikely event, your yeast shows no sign of change, you can assume the yeast is dead and must be replaced.
Mix to form a soft dough.
After the yeast is activated, you can add the melted, cooled butter, eggs, and salt. Stir until incorporated. Next, add the flour, stirring between each cup to gradually form a sticky, yet firm dough. You may need to grab hold of the bowl firmly as you turn it with a wooden spoon toward the end. Do not knead the dough, simply gather into a ball and cover with a towel or cling wrap.
Let the dough mixture rise in a warm place until doubled in size (see before and after photos above and below–1 hour of rise time ought to do the trick).
Once doubled in size, you can easily handle the dough. I like to transfer it onto a lightly floured cutting board for this next part.
You can flatten the dough easily with your palms or use a rolling pin. Just be sure to spread the dough into a rectangle as evenly as possible about an inch or so thickness (see above). Bare in mind, these donuts nearly double in volume as they cook.
Use a pastry dough cutter or pizza wheel and cut into rectangles (see above). I love this long john shape because you don’t need any circular donut cut-outs and there’s no wasted dough.
Once the dough is cut, start warming the oil. This gives the donuts time to get a second rise which helps them puff up just a bit more and gives them a more professional look. Medium heat is generally best for deep-frying.
Why Deep-Fry in a Dutch Oven:
As I talk about in Easy Dutch Oven Cooking, a Dutch oven is such an ideal vessel for deep-frying because you need less oil than you would with a deep-fryer (a totally unnecessary piece of equipment) and it maintains a constant temperature, making it a safe choice for home cooks and professionals, alike.
Technique Tip: Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a thermometer to deep-fry successfully. Please watch the video in this post to see exactly how to use a ball of dough as a temperature “tester.” As a chef, this is my #1 tip for frying anything. Start with a tester and adjust accordingly (See detailed recipe instructions below).
Easy Maple Icing with Real Maple Syrup – the Perfect Donut Glaze
It’s important to follow my proportions exactly in order to get your glaze to set properly. You will need real maple syrup (generally speaking, the darker the color, the stronger the maple flavor). Be sure to sift the powdered sugar and whisk everything for a silky smooth texture.
Dip warm donuts and whisk your icing if it looks like it starts to form a crystallized shell — this will happen as the fat cools, so work quickly to avoid.
I like to dip rather than pour the icing. Less messy. Dipped donuts only take a few minutes to dry.
Flavor Tip: You can play with the flavor a bit in small increments. For example, I added a bit of coffee concentrate (only 1/4 teaspoon) to my icing. I really liked both flavors and couldn’t pick a favorite (neither could my husband).
How to Freeze and Reheat Donuts
- After enjoying a few fresh donuts–Is there anything more heavenly than a warm donut?–I bagged them and put them in the freezer. Just be sure to do this step after the icing has set completely.
- Reheat Instructions: You can defrost straight from frozen in 10 second intervals, until warmed through, in the microwave on high or using the defrost setting.
I think these donuts reheat really well, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
I hope you and yours love this recipe as much as we do. Be sure to leave any helpful feedback in the comments below for others to benefit.
Long John Donuts with Real Maple Glaze
- dutch oven
For the Dough:
- 1 ¼ cups whole milk
- 2 ¼ teaspoons (one packet) active dry yeast
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1-stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour plus more for rolling out the dough
- 1 ½ quarts Canola oil for frying
For the Glaze:
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- 1 cup sifted confectioners sugar
- ¼ teaspoon maple extract optional, but recommended*
- 1 pinch sea salt to taste
- Prepare the yeast mixture. In a small pot, heat the milk until warm but not hot, about skin temperature. Transfer milk to a large bowl and add the yeast and granulated sugar. Stir gently and set aside. Place a stick of butter in the warm pot (off the heat) and allow to melt fully.
- Make the dough and allow to rise. Between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on the age of the yeast, you will see tiny bubbles or even clumps — a sign that your yeast is now ready. Add the melted, cooled butter, eggs, and salt. Stir until incorporated. Add the flour, stirring between each cup to gradually form a sticky, yet firm dough. You may need to grab hold of the bowl firmly as you turn it with a wooden spoon toward the end. Do not knead the dough, simply gather into a ball and cover with a towel or cling wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Flatten and cut dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and using your palms flatten into a smooth rectangle about ½-inch thick. Use a dough cutter (a pizza wheel works, too) to cut into one-and-a-half-inch rows by four-inch columns. Meanwhile, slowly bring the oil to temperature in a Dutch oven over medium heat (or medium-high heat depending on the strength of your burner).
- Set up a fry station and test the oil. Break off a piece of dough and roll into a ball. Gently drop into the hot oil and watch for bubbles to form around the dough; it will float and turn golden brown when ready. To fry long johns, add up to 3 at a time, using a spider to flip to the other side when golden brown. Strain with the spider and transfer to a paper towel or holding rack until cool enough to handle.
- Dip in glaze. In a medium bowl, combine the melted butter, maple syrup, confectioners sugar, maple extract (if using), and a pinch of salt. Stir until smooth. Dip the warm, fried donuts into the icing mixture and set on a serving tray. Allow the icing to form a crystallized smooth layer. Best enjoyed fresh. See notes for storage.
Photography by Megan Johnson.