Material Handling: Fried Dough

Category: Pastry & Baking

In this issue, Julie and Jimmy MacMillan explore fried dough in dessert.


Fried dough is, of course, associated with outdoor food stands in carnivals, amusement parks, state fairs, rodeos, and resorts across the country. And modern donuts as an artisan food/art form have taken off and created a serious market segment that has capitalized on the public’s love for fried dough. In this issue, we present three tried and true fried dough recipes to add to your repertoire. For pastry chefs, a delicious yeast-raised donut, beignet or funnel cake can bring outdoor flair to summer dessert menus.

Chocolate Beignets plated and served with macerated berries and frenched vanilla sauce. Photo by Julie MacMillan. Click image above or link below for recipe.

Our staple for donuts, donut ‘holes’ or bunelos (or any of the literally hundreds of variations from around the world) is our yeast-raised donut. This recipe is quick prep in a stand mixer, can be rolled out and proofed directly on the table and into the fryer within 30 minutes. We make thick round donuts and fry the donut holes after or cut square pillows with a chef’s knife and toss them with cinnamon sugar or powdered sugar. They are then served warm with sides of caramel cream and chocolate sauce.

For restaurant lunch service or coffee break displays in the private dining rooms, chocolate beignets are a huge hit. These are the ‘Berliner’ style of fried beignets (vs. frying pâte à choux) and can be tossed or glazed in sugar or filled with custard or jelly.

Chocolate beignets taking a bath in the deep fryer. Photo by Julie MacMillan.

Chocolate beignet dough can be mixed two hours before frying and will hold up through an entire service. We keep batches of the scaled dry mix on hand for easy preparation. Chocolate beignets are piped out of a plastic bag and cut with scissors to form perfect round fried dough balls. Like all fried dough items, they are perfect out of the fryer and diminish every minute they rest until they are eaten. We serve them at the table during lunch with macerated berries and vanilla sauce poured tableside.

Our most popular fried dough to grace dining rooms is the illustrious funnel cake. Probably the fried dessert most reminiscent of state fairs and carnivals, funnel cakes are about as summer Americana as it gets. Diners rarely see them outside of their traditional venue, and so delight when executed properly in the restaurant.

Forming funnel cakes in a ring mold adds refinement and consistency. Photo by Julie MacMillan.

There’s some technique behind our faithful, yet refined, version of a funnel cake which has been developed by many seasons of trial and error. Firstly, to make a successful composed dessert, the funnel cake must be small enough to plate with other components and consistent as well. This is easily achieved by loading the fryer with metal rings of the desired size.

Of even greater importance is the width and texture of the finished fried dough. Too thin, the funnel cake is fine-dining attractive but too crispy. Too thick and a small sized funnel cake looks bulky and lacks proper texture. Perfect funnel cakes can be achieved by extruding the batter (liquefied dough) out of a plastic squeeze bottle with the tip cut slightly wider than factory. Some practice will reveal the proper circular moves and volume of batter needed to achieve your personal version of funnel cake perfection.

Funnel Cake fried à la minute and plated for restaurant dining. Photo by Julie MacMillan. Click image above or link below for recipe.

Funnel cakes must be fried à la minute and plated immediately. Our current menu features a funnel cake served with mandarin orange sauce, navel orange segments and yuzu lime jelly.

So this summer, why not bring fried doughnuts, beignets, and funnel cakes into the dining room? Experimenting with donuts on your plated dessert menus will keep the spirit of summer alive.


Find 'Material Handling: Fried Dough' recipes in the Recipe section or click the links below.


Jimmy & Julie MacMillan of JMPurePastry
Jimmy & Julie MacMillan of JMPurePastry. Photo by Anthony Tahlier.

Any trends or inspirations you’d like to see in the Material Handling spotlight? Email Jimmy and Julie at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

JMPurePastry is a Chicago-based pastry solutions group specializing in high quality, well designed media products for the restaurant, baking and hospitality industry. The duo is also responsible for the multiple Emmy® Award-winning Chicago Restaurant Pastry Competition video series. For more information, visit: