Homemade doughnuts are amazingly tender and delicious.  The dough itself isn’t terribly sweet, so the coating of sugar doesn’t make them cloying at all.  A mix of cinnamon and sugar or your favorite frosting would be just as delicious.


These are traditionally a cold weather food, but since its near April in Chicago and still 20 degrees, why not?

These are traditionally a cold weather food, but since its near April in Chicago and still 20 degrees, why not?



These small doughnuts were made for a client, but we shot them separately to get a different perspective.  We just had to come in close and tight on them to show off the cinnamon and sugar.  They were still hot enough that putting them in set, we were a little worried they would crumble apart.  To really show off the texture and to give a clear idea of how much coating is on these doughnuts, we used just a few point source lights.  One from high and to the back right, to skim across the face of the 2 forward facing heroes.  The other was low and to the back left to skim and give an edge light to some others.  In addition to that, we had a soft light overhead to control contrast.  We spilled a little bit the topping onto the surface, and put some empty glass ware behind to give some extra interest.

All and all, this was a very simple shot made delicious by the food itself.  Sometimes, the photographer and food stylist have to work some magic, but simple is sometimes better.

You can make some home made doughnuts similar to the ones above with this recipe.


  • 1 tablespoon of dry active yeast
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for coating doughnuts
  • 3 1/4 cups flour, plus more for rolling and shaping
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp. softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Vegetable oil, canola oil, or lard for frying



  1. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup of warm water. Let sit about 5 minutes until the yeast foams a bit (so you know it’s active).
  2. Beat in 2 cups of the flour, sugar, egg, butter, and salt. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cup flour 1/4 cup at a time until the dough starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and let sit in a warm place until the dough doubles in bulk, about 2 hours. Alternatively, you can chill the dough overnight.
  3. Punch down the dough and turn it onto a floured surface. Roll dough to about 1/2-inch thick and use a large round biscuit cutter (a drinking glass works too) to cut circles and a smaller round cutter to cut out the holes. Obviously, if you are lucky enough to be in possession of a doughnut cutter, go ahead and use that!
  4. Cover doughnuts (and holes) and let rise until puffy looking, about 2 hours. Alternatively, you can put the cut doughnuts on floured baking sheets, cover, and chill the cut dough overnight.
  5. Heat an inch or two of oil or lard in a large heavy pot to 350 – 375 degrees. Set a cooling rack over a baking sheet and put them near the pot. Put about a cup of sugar in a medium bowl and have that handy as well.
  6. Add 3 or 4 doughnuts (or 8 to 10 doughnut holes) to the oil. They should sizzle immediately as you add them to the fat. Cook doughnuts until light brown on one side. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to flip the doughnuts, cook until the second side is light brown. Transfer cooked doughnuts to cooling rack and let cool/drain for a few minutes. Dip doughnuts into sugar to coat. Repeat with remaining doughnuts. Serve warm if at all possible.

Makes about 18 homemade doughnuts and doughnut holes.