Sweet bits of deep-fried dough, doughnuts make a great complement to coffee, tea and other warm beverages. Making these delicacies at home isn't difficult as long as you have a deep fryer or a heavy-bottomed pan. Traditional recipes call for canola oil, vegetable oil or shortening for the frying, though it is possible to use other types of oil, including peanut oil, safflower oil and olive oil.
Doughnuts are not the healthiest of foods, with their high sugar and fat contents. It might be tempting to use olive oil for frying to reap some of the health benefits of this delicious ingredient. Olive oil, a monounsaturated fat, doesn't contain harmful LDL cholesterol. In fact, olive oil can increase your HDL levels. These higher HDL levels can protect your body from cholesterol deposits and can reduce your cholesterol level.
There are three basic types of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil has a low acidity level. It comes from the first cold pressing of the olives and is not refined. Virgin olive oil is similarly unrefined, though it contains a slightly higher acidity level. The taste is stronger than that of extra virgin olive oil. Pure olive oil is made by mixing virgin olive oil with refined olive oil. This type of olive oil is typically the least expensive of the three, an important consideration if you're using large amounts of oil for frying.
Not all three types of olive oil are suitable for deep frying because they have different smoke points. Once an oil reaches its smoke point, it will burst into flames, a potentially dangerous situation. The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil is 250 degrees Fahrenheit, considerably lower than the 350 F you need to fry your doughnuts. Pure olive oil, on the other hand, has a smoke point of 410 degrees and can handle the high temperatures needed for deep frying.
While you can safely deep fry doughnuts in pure olive oil, you have to be prepared for the change in taste. This type of oil has a stronger, more pronounced flavor than the oils traditionally used for deep frying. Try pairing this oil with citrus-flavored doughnuts for a pleasing combination.
- Top Pot Hand-Forged Doughnuts: Secrets and Recipes for the Home Baker; Mark Klebeck and Michael Klebeck
- Keys to Good Cooking; Harold McGee
- Fondues and Hot Pots; Susan Fuller Slack
- University of Michigan Health System: Health Benefits of Olive Oil
- Explore Crete: Types of Olive Oil
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images