What sort of doughnut would sum up a holiday for you? A Berliner in Berlin? An Italian bombolini? (If so, recipes below...) Decorated destination doughnuts are one of the baking challenges faced by contestants in the new series of Spring Baking Championships (Wednesdays, 7.30 pm on Food Network from February 14 - catch the doughnut episode on February 21).
To get in the mood, here's a global tour of doughnut delights.
Before we take off: 8 Aussie favourites
Inspired by the sugary delights at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria markets, these jam doughnuts are made with cake flower, which carries a lower gluten content and delivers a finer crumb.
Serve these chocolate balls warm for maximum molten effect.
Don’t like the idea of deep-frying your doughnuts? These biscuit treats are an excellent cheat. Pipe yours into ‘O’ shapes, ice in your favourite colour, then sprinkle with hundreds and thousands for rainbow fun.
Somewhat reminiscent of Greece’s loukoumades, these bouncy ricotta balls are glazed with orange blossom and honey. Serve with white chocolate sauce for maximum sweetness.
Muffin-style batter gets a doughnut-y treatment with these cute-as-a-button treats. Sprinkled with pecans and a drizzle of lemon glaze, these nutty bites won’t last long.
A soft, pillowy doughnut piped with sweet jam, custard or cream, berliners are thought to have been created in Germany. Variations of this sweet treat can be found under different nom de plums across the globe: be it jelly doughnuts in the U.S. or jam buns back home. This particularly pleasant recipe is filled with a rhubarb and vanilla jam.
Walnuts and mejdool dates team up for this cup-of-tea companion. Glazed with apple juice icing, these cakey doughnuts come with a sweet, fruity kick.
Like the look of these chocolate sprinkles? Why not make your own from scratch! If you’re not a fan of cocoa, you can use natural colourants, such as beetroot or carrot juice or food dyes. Here, the sprinkles are the ‘cherry on the top’ of Dutch cocoa-glazed doughnuts.
First stop: India
A sweet favourite during Diwali, the Festival of Lights, gulab jamun are India’s answer to the doughnut. Light, fluffy and soaked in sugar syrup until they double in size, these dumpling are often paired with citrus or rose petal flavours. In his recipe from Tonka, chef Adam D’Sylva pairs ricotta-based dumplings and a cardamom, cinnamon and saffron syrup.
Entering savoury territory, vadai are crisp, spiced doughnuts made from urad dhal (split small black beans). This recipe incorporates turmeric, ginger, cumin and chillies, and calls for a side of coconut chutney for a cooling touch.
Over to the Middle East
Known as lgeimat, these Emirati dumplings are coated with a saffron- and cardamom-infused syrup. Unlike other doughnuts, this recipe includes Greek yoghurt in the batter.
You can find Shane Delia’s Turkish delight-filled doughnuts on the menu at his Melbourne restaurant Maha, but the origin of this recipe harks back to the family home. Feeling experimental, Shane took an old Lebanese doughnut recipe from my mother-in-law Guitta, then decided to stick a slice of Turkish delight in the middle. Drizzled with rosewater honey and toasted pine nuts, it’s a fabulous sweet fusion.
Beach break in Africa
Dusted in a granulated ‘sanding sugar’, reminiscent of their beachy birthplace, these drop doughnuts are commonly found along coasts of Ghana. You can use any sugar you like, but don’t forget to add condensed milk into the batter for a sweet, creamy twist.
24 hours in Japan
For a unique doughnut hit in Japan, bypass Tokyo and head to the island of Okinawa. In this former U.S. Navy base, you’ll find Okinawan black sugar doughnuts. These cakey balls are made with island’s famed black sugar, and hence carry a rich, mollasses-like sweetness you won’t find elsewhere.
Next stop: Europe
They might look more like poffertjes than a regular doughnut but these Danish apple bites, known as aebleskivers, are a wonderfully doughy treat. Containing fried apple and dusted with icing sugar, the doughnuts are best served with raspberry jam.
Keen for a different kind of doughnut? This Croatian specialty, fritule, is made potatoes (desiree or sebago) and laced with nutmeg, dark rum, vanilla, plus lemon and orange zest. Interestingly, these sugar-coated delights are more commonly served as a welcoming snack – with dried figs and grape brandy – rather than dessert.
Traditionally eaten as a New Year's treat, these Dutch doughnuts known as oliebollen are bejewelled with currants, raisins and bites of granny smith apple.
Next on the itinerary: Mediterranean meandering
These Italian bombolini are made from a sweet yeast dough of honey, instead of sugar. Filled with vanilla bean custard and dusted with icing sugar, they’re as visually appealing as they are tasty.
There are few things more delightful than a warm cinnamon doughnut, but this vegan-friendly recipe goes one better by filling the insides with Spanish quince paste. If you’re less fruity, more cocoa crazy, try this chocolate pâté (vegan, too) for dipping wonderment.
This Portuguese specialty, known as bola de Berlim, ticks all the right boxes. Fluffy dough, sugar crusting and a luscious filling of crème pâtissière. The secret to this formidable custard is the generous amount of egg yolks, yielding a rich, pleasing result.
Across to the Americas
The Mexican buñuelo is a descendent of Spanish churros and comes in many forms: a flat disc of dough, a classic ring-shaped doughnut or a simple ball. Usually scented with anise and soaked in brown sugar syrup, this twist on the recipe and adds pecans and coffee anglaise to wonderful effect.
You may think of churros as a Spanish specialty, but these cinnamon-coated sticks are adored in Brazil, too. Serve with the sweet, thick caramel called dulce de leche – or doce de leite in Brazil – for a doughnut dipping dream.
And finishing in the United States
Named after the Hebrew word for sponge, sufganiyot, these Jewish doughnuts are fluffy and light. Spiked with cinnamon and lemon zest, the doughy balls are traditionally filled with raspberry jam and commonly served at Hanukkah.
For those who like edible experimentation, here’s the Hanukkah jelly doughnut, sufganiyot, done with a twist. Coated in chocolate, like a classic American candy, these baked treats are filled with raspberry jam by way of an injector syringe – available from all good cake shops.
Fans of sweet-salty-meaty combos will adore these maple-glazed doughnuts with ‘bacon chips’ on top. Use thinly sliced, streaky bacon here for extra crunch.
Made with copha (vegetable shortening) and evaporated milk, these American doughnuts, or beignets, are absolute deep-fried joy. Dust generously with icing sugar and enjoy warm.
Doughnuts aren’t generally thought of as a ‘health food’ but these gluten-free goodies carry plenty of wholesome ingredients. Oat and almond flours come together for the batter, while psyllium husk delivers fibre and structure in the absence of gluten. We can’t explain the health benefit of the mocha-glaze, but hey a little indulgence is allowed!
An ode to the coffee-doughnut combo loved by American cops, this recipe sees coffee-flavoured ice-cream sandwiched between two deep-fried doughies.
Laced with nutmeg and cinnamon, these cakey, cider-flavoured doughnuts are perfect for the cooler months. It does take some effort to deep-fry your own doughnuts at home, but result is always worth it!
Coffee jelly, chocolate custard and buttermilk doughnuts come together for this truly decadent dessert. For an extra caffeine hit, dust your balls in a cinnamon and instant coffee sugar.
Want more? Check out SBS Food's doughnut collection here.
Watch Spring Baking Championships Wednesdays 7.30 pm on Food Network from February 14 (catch the doughnut episode on February 21) or catch up via SBS On Demand.