Middle Eastern Doughnuts

Début de l'été 2020
food and drink

BY: Joanne Yolles

Inspired by the flavours and ingredients of Middle Eastern cuisine, these doughnuts are topped with kataifi, a shredded phyllo-like dough. Look for boxes of kataifi in the frozen food section of grocery stores such as Fiesta Farms in Toronto, or in specialty stores that carry Middle Eastern or Greek ingredients. Freeze-dried strawberries are available from online retailers such as amazon.ca and at Whole Foods Market. The doughnuts should be made, glazed and decorated the day of serving.

1 recipe Sour Cream Cake Doughnuts, prepared (recipe below)

1 tbsp plus 1 tsp (20 mL) sugar
¼ tsp (1 mL) cardamom
4 oz (115 g) kataifi dough, about ¼ pkg
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter, melted

Finely grated rind of 1 large orange
2 cups (500 mL) icing sugar
2 to 3 tbsp (30 to 45 mL) milk
Chopped unsalted pistachios for garnish
Freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries for garnish (optional)

1 For the toasted kataifi, preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Line an 11 x 17-inch (28 x 43-m) baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2 In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and cardamom and set aside. Place the kataifi dough in a medium bowl and, using your hands, separate and “fluff up” the strands. Pour the melted butter over the dough and toss with your hands to distribute the butter. Add the cardamom sugar and toss to combine.

3 Spread the kataifi in an even layer on the parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. The kataifi can be baked up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

4 For the glaze, add the grated orange rind to the icing sugar. Add 2 tbsp (30 mL) of the milk and whisk until the mixture is smooth and a pourable consistency. If it seems too thick, add more milk a drop at a time. One at a time, submerge the doughnuts about halfway into the glaze. Allow any excess to drip off back into the bowl. The doughnut holes can also be dipped. Before the glaze sets, top with the toasted kataifi, chopped pistachios and freeze-dried strawberries or raspberries, if using.


Will anyone really make doughnuts at home? This was my question. What with the dough, the deep-frying, the time commitment, I was skeptical. However, I’m now convinced that yes, these are worth making. The basic recipe combines elements of both cake and yeast-raised doughnut methods—a hybrid if you will. Admittedly, there is yeast involved, (make sure it’s the quick-rise instant version) but there is no waiting time, no 12-hour overnight rise. The dough comes together quickly, and with a good thermometer and heavy pot at your side, the deep-frying is a breeze. Once you have mastered the base recipe, sample the two flavour options, the first being deliciously picture perfect for a brunch, and the second, an unusual and heavenly combination to celebrate mom or dad. 

1 cup (250 mL) sour cream
½ tsp (2 mL) instant yeast
2¼ cups (560 mL) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2½ tsp (12 mL) baking powder
½ cup (125 mL) sugar
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
2 eggs
2 tbsp (30 mL) unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla
Canola oil for frying

1 In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and yeast and set aside to dissolve the yeast.

2 In a larger bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

3 Add the eggs, melted butter and vanilla to the sour cream and whisk until smooth.

4 Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough comes together with no visible pockets of flour. The dough will be quite soft and sticky. Cover the surface of the dough with plastic wrap and set aside for about 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the oil for frying.

5 Fit a large heavy-bottom pot with a deep-fry thermometer and pour in oil to a depth of 2 inches (5 cm). Begin heating the oil over medium heat until the thermometer registers 350°F (180°C).

6 While the oil is heating up, sift flour generously over the work surface and turn the dough out overtop. Sift more flour onto the dough and, using your hands, gently pat the dough out to about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thickness. Using a floured 3-inch (8-cm) cookie cutter, punch out circles of dough. Brush off any excess flour, then cut out the centres with a floured 1-inch (2.5-cm) cutter. Carefully brush off any excess flour from the underside of each doughnut and set aside. Re-roll the scraps and repeat, using the last bit of dough to cut more of the smaller “doughnut holes” with the 1-inch (2.5-cm) cutter. You should have about 10 doughnuts and 16 holes.

7 Once the oil reaches 350°F (180°C) and using a slotted spoon or flat wire skimmer, gently lower 2 to 3 doughnuts at a time into the oil. When they float to the top, allow them to cook for about 1 minute or until they are a light golden brown on the underside. Flip them over and continue cooking for about a minute more or until uniformly light golden brown. Using the slotted spoon, wire skimmer or tongs, transfer the doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Continue cooking the remaining doughnuts and holes, while maintaining the oil temperature at 350°F (180°C). Dip the doughnuts in glaze (glazes included in the following recipes), decorate and serve the day they are prepared.

Makes approximately 10 doughnuts and 16 doughnut holes

What to Serve