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You’ll want to skip the doughnut shop once you see how easy it is to make these Old Fashioned Doughnuts. These easy Old-Fashioned Doughnuts have crisp edges and soft, cake-like insides with a sweet glaze on the outside. Perfectly spiced with a hint of nutmeg and the tang of sour cream, everybody loves an old-fashioned!

This post was created as in partnership with Imperial Sugar. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

An image of glazed cake doughnuts staked on top of each other.  

My husband grew up doing Saturday morning bike rides over the to doughnut shop to get doughnuts with his dad, and it’s a tradition Paul has carried on with our girls. We are a doughnut loving family, even though I think they are better as an afternoon treat rather than as a breakfast food.

There is nothing like a freshly made old-fashioned sour cream doughnut though. Their cracked, craggy tops have the best texture and provide more surface area to be coated by glaze. And they are much easier to make at home than you might think. You don’t even need a deep fryer!

An image of old-fashioned sour cream doughnuts on a cooling rack. 

Cake doughnuts vs. yeast doughnuts

There are two major types of doughnuts – cake doughnuts and yeast doughnuts. Old-fashioned doughnuts are a type of cake doughnut with a more dense crumb and that crispy on the outside, soft on the inside texture. Yeast doughnuts are fluffier, puffier, and generally larger than cake doughnuts. The biggest reason for the difference is that yeast doughnuts are made with a yeast dough, which helps them rise, while cake doughnuts are made with baking powder or baking soda. 

But generally speaking, there are only three base doughnut flavors – chocolate cake, white cake, and yeast. The variety typically comes in how they are topped with glazes, sprinkles, nuts, and other toppings.

Old-fashioned sour cream doughnuts are the exception. They are a type of cake doughnut that is special because rather than getting their flavor just from however they are topped, the dough itself is gently spiced with ground nutmeg and made tangy and moist with the addition of sour cream.

You can eat them plain, or dip them in a simple glaze, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar. Also, why dip just the top when you can coat the top and bottom in glaze by double-dipping?

An image of glazed old-fashioned sour cream donuts.

Is it a doughnut or donut?

Either spelling is actually correct. Donut is just a shortened version of the original “doughnut”. 

Why is it called an old-fashioned doughnut?

No one seems entirely sure why this type of doughnut is called an old-fashioned. Especially when yeast doughnuts actually predate all versions of cake doughnuts and have been around for hundreds of years.

Cake doughnuts were created in the U.S. around 1829 shortly after chemical leaveners were introduced. But their popularity really gained traction during WWI when Salvation Army workers in France served doughnuts with coffee to American servicemen for a taste of home!

Personally, I think these are called old-fashioned doughnuts because the appearance and flavor are less flashy than their sprinkle-topped counterparts. The simple but wonderful flavor gives them a classic, timeless quality that truly is “old-fashioned” in these days of crazy doughnut flavor combinations.

An image of glazed old-fashioned donuts stacked on top of each other.

How to Make Old-Fashioned Doughtnuts

  1. Mix cake flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. 
  2. Beat sugar and butter in a stand mixer. 
  3. Add egg yolks, one at a time, then add vanilla.
  4. Alternately add the dry ingredients with the sour cream, a little at a time. Mix just until combined to create a sticky dough.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour in the fridge.
  6. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/2-inch thick, then cut out into doughnut shapes using a doughnut cutter or a large and small circular cutter. I don’t have a small circle cutter, so I just use the base of a large piping tip and it works great!
  7. Heat a large skillet filled with 1 inch of oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.
  8. Working in batches, brush excess flour off the doughnuts and fry them, a few at a time, in the hot oil for 1-2 minutes on one side. Flip and fry on the other side until golden brown, then transfer to a wire rack.
  9. Whisk together a simple glaze, then dip one or both sides of the doughnuts in the glaze and place back on the wire rack. Let the glaze set for 20 minutes before eating.

A collage of images showing how to make old-fashioned doughnuts. An image of glazed cake doughnuts on a wire cooling rack.

You can save the leftover oil and reuse it to fry more donuts or make homemade french fries or hush puppies.

I made these Old-Fashioned Doughnuts for Imperial Sugar. You can get the FULL RECIPE on their site.

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