Doughnuts shrinking when cut - Help!


Doughnutter

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Hi all,

I am trying to make doughnuts and over recent weeks, I have tried many different recipes but they always seem to massively shrink when cut, and roll out quite wrinkly (?) and from this, I have deduced that it must be a problem with my methods/techniques as opposed to the recipe(s). I have a feeling I might be knocking back too much but I do not know for sure as my baking knowledge is very minimal. To give you more info, the recipe I have been using is as follows:


650g plain flour
120ml water
180ml milk
75g unsalted butter
60g caster sugar
2 eggs
7.5g active dry yeast

Melt butter into milk while heating gently until bubbles rise around the edge
Add milk/butter to dry ingredients
Combine ingredients
Mix in mixer with dough hook for 6-8 minutes or until comes away from the sides of the bowl
Shape into rough ball and set to rise for 60-90 mins
Knock back
Roll out and cut (THIS IS WHERE THE PROBLEM IS!)
Leave to rise for another 45-60 mins until doubled in size
Fry 1 min each side at 180C


To give some more context, I have tried many different recipes (some with much more milk, some with no milk, some with more butter so more like a brioche) and many different ways of rising the dough (two lots of proving with knocking back in between, rise in the fridge overnight) and this always happens! I have also tried varying the flour:liquid ratio right up to the point where the dough is so wet that it is barely workable and the same still happens. To help, I have attached an image also. Please help, I just want to make great doughnuts!!!!!!!!!!

ADDITIONAL: I always allow the dough to double in size while rising. It is seemingly rising fine
 

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Norcalbaker59

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Welcome to the forum. I think it’s a combination of several factors (recipe, fermentation, and handling) causing an imbalance of extensibility (ability to stretch) and elasticity, (ability to return to original shape). Too much elasticity results in a dough that “shrinks” back instead of holding its shape.


Low hydration: lower hydration creates more dough strength, which creates more elasticity. This recipe is at 46%. Increase the hydration to between 50% - 55%.


Kneading and long fermentation: both promotes dough strength. So if you are going for a long fermentation period, you must reduce the kneading. Knead to dough characteristics, not the clock. If you are going for cold fermentation, knead until the dough comes together in a smooth mass. It will be sticky, but that’s a fine. You just want to be beyond the shaggy stage.


In general, for doughnuts, knead less than you would a bread dough as the goal is both a tender crust and crumb. So even if you do a short first rise, you just knead until the dough is smooth and stretches. It should also have pulled away from the sides of the mixing bowl.


“Knocking back”: the terms “knocking back” or “punch down” are really bad terms as it implies heavy handed decompression. This should never be done regardless of the type of dough and fermentation used.


I recommend you always place dough in an oiled bowl. Do not knock back or punch the dough down after the first rise. When ready to roll, gently turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. That will release quite a bit of the trapped gas as the dough stretched out of the bowl. Then gently press the dough with your fingertips while shaping into a rectangle. Then roll. The action of rolling will complete the release of gas.


If you refrigerate overnight, you can go straight from the mixing bowl to the refrigerator. You don’t need to do anything else until you are ready to roll it.


Nothing: doing nothing is a very important part of working with yeast dough. Let it go through its fermentation process without handling it. Then do as little handling when rolling and cutting.


Temperature: if you refrigerate the dough, let it sit at room temperature for about 20 min before turning out of the bowl.


Rolling: be careful not tear the skin when rolling. Do not apply downward pressure and outward force with your body weight over the rolling pin. Rather, let the weight of the rolling pin do the work. This takes a some getting used to as you learn what to feel for in the dough as you roll.


With every pass of the rolling pin turn the dough 1/4 of a turn. Then ensures uniform thickness and prevents sticking. If the dough is stuck to the counter, you will pull and tear the skin. That exposes the sticky interior; then more flour is needed. Excess flour makes the dough tougher and drier.


Observation: with each pass of the rolling pin watch the dough. If it springs back even slightly, stop rolling, cover the dough with cling wrap and let it relax for 10-15 minutes. Rolling dough that exhibits signs of too much elasticity only exacerbates the problem.


Cutting: before cutting rest the dough to let the gluten in the dough relax.


Excess flour: be sure to brush off all the excess flour after cutting. Flour on the surface affects how the donut fries.


Parchment: in the spirit of handling the dough as little as possible, place cutout doughnuts on greased parchment squares. To fry flip the doughnut paper and all into the oil with the paper side up. Within a few seconds the paper will detach and remove it with tongs.
 

Becky

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Welcome to the forum @Doughnutter :) (great username by the way!)

I can't add anything to the advice above, but let us know how you get on with your next batch.
 

Doughnutter

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Update!

Did a batch today and made the following adjustments:

Made the dough wetter (55% as suggested)
Kneaded what I felt was a 'minimal' amount - until the dough just began to come away from the sides of the mixer
I accidentally left the dough to rise slightly too much (approx 2.5-3x the size) as I had to leave the house. D'o(ug)h.
Very little knocking back - following the above instructions to turn out onto the side and press down with fingertips
Rolled out very carefully using just the weight of the roller


I cut out the dough and the first one did stretch back but much less than before, so I left the dough to rest for a while on the side. This solved the issue! I went to cut them out and they were not stretching back at all, perfectly round.

As stated above, there were still some issues that might have caused the initial stretching (such as I accidentally proved too long and could possibly knead the dough even less) but overall, the problem is solved and I am very very grateful! Thank you to @Norcalbaker59 and I will most certainly re-visit this forum in the future.
 

Norcalbaker59

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Update!

Did a batch today and made the following adjustments:

Made the dough wetter (55% as suggested)
Kneaded what I felt was a 'minimal' amount - until the dough just began to come away from the sides of the mixer
I accidentally left the dough to rise slightly too much (approx 2.5-3x the size) as I had to leave the house. D'o(ug)h.
Very little knocking back - following the above instructions to turn out onto the side and press down with fingertips
Rolled out very carefully using just the weight of the roller


I cut out the dough and the first one did stretch back but much less than before, so I left the dough to rest for a while on the side. This solved the issue! I went to cut them out and they were not stretching back at all, perfectly round.

As stated above, there were still some issues that might have caused the initial stretching (such as I accidentally proved too long and could possibly knead the dough even less) but overall, the problem is solved and I am very very grateful! Thank you to @Norcalbaker59 and I will most certainly re-visit this forum in the future.
I’m so happy to hear your doughnut issues were resolved. Looking forward to hearing about your future baking adventures.
 
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Becky

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That's great news, good work! :D Thanks for reporting back so quickly too!
 
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