The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flour's Protein Content, Yeast + Baking Soda, and Donuts

BakerNewbie's picture

Flour's Protein Content, Yeast + Baking Soda, and Donuts

I tried making some Portuguese donuts (called malasadas). I used an all purpose flour with 11.5 grams of protein per 100 grams of flour (11.5% protein). The dough seemed to rise properly the first and second time. After I fried the dough, the resulting donut seemed a heavy and dense. 

I want the donuts to be very light and fluffy. What can I do to achieve such results. Ideas that come to mind:

  • Use a lower protein flour, such as cake flour. Cake flour seems to be hard to find where I'm from. Is there anything I can add to all purpose flour to reduce it's protein profile?

Here's my theory: my 100 grams of flour (a cup of well sifted wheat flour is about 110 grams) contains 11.5 grams of protein. If I subtract 20 grams of flour and replace it with 20 grams of cornstarch (cornstarch has 0% protein), the protein content of my flour/starch mixture should be reduced by 20%. Meaning, I'll have a total of 9.2 grams of protein -- cake flour range. Will this work?

  • Use more yeast. If I get more air bubbles in the dough, it might come out lighter. Right?
  • Add baking soda to the recipe. The recipe doesn't call for baking soda, but I'm wondering if I can add it to make the donut lighter and fluffier. If this is an option, how do I determine the amount I need?
  • Is there something in the kneading I can do to get the desired results? Do I need to knead more or less perhaps?
  • Is there anything in the recipe I can change? The recipe (from Food Network):
    • 2 teaspoon dry active yeast
    • 1/4 cup warm water
    • 1 tablespoon sugar plus 1/3 cup sugar
    • 2/3 cup milk
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 4 eggs, well beaten
    • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
    • 4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
    • Vegetable oil, for frying
    • Cinnamon-sugar for coating (about 1/4 cup sugar mixed with cinnamon to taste)
dwcoleman's picture

This website has some good info.  I think that shortening instead of butter would add the lightness that you're looking for.  Try his recipe as well.

G-man's picture

Some things to consider:

Are you using powdered/scalded milk? I've never had an issue with regular milk, but I guess it can influence rise.

Knead more. You mentioned this yourself, so maybe you're on the right track. Looks like a really sticky dough, with the eggs and all, so you'll need to make sure the gluten is well formed.

Let it rise a bit longer or in a warm place such as the oven with the light on. It could very well be they're just not rising long enough.

Butter or lard should be fine. The problem is one of method.

Crider's picture

Also, Fresh Loaf user txfarmer uses intensive kneading to produce very soft loaves. See this article and there's more elaboration in this article.

Also, I wouldn't recommend adding corn starch to your flour. Try locating wheat starch. I found some in a Middle East grocery, of all places -- even though I've never seen a Middle East recipe calling for wheat starch!

jaywillie's picture

I know that Cook's Illustrated has some recipes where they substitute corn starch for flour when they want to lower the protein content, so that direction is valid and worth exploring. What I don't know is how far you can go -- how much you can substitute without affecting something else in the formula. You'll have to experiment and let us know.

MickiColl's picture

somewhere in my recipe box I have a recipe for Malsadas printed from the Honolulu Advertiser back in llthe late 70's or early 80's

if you would like to have it ..

BakerNewbie's picture

Yes please! Is it any good? I've tried some recipes sourced from Hawaii. No luck so far.