Bake Magazine reached out to Michelle Peitz, Technical Solutions & Marketing – Oils, ADM, to offer troubleshooting tips for producing the most flavorful donuts that perform well every day.

Please outline a list of donut fry oil options available for retail bakeries. What are key advantages for each?

Bakers usually rely on solid fat systems for donut fry oil, like interesterified soy and palm, that are solid at room temperature and have a target melting point around 100-115 degrees. Well-balanced solid fat content provides donuts with the right mouthfeel without becoming too dry or waxy.

The optimal fry oil varies depending on what owners/operators are looking for in their system. In North America, palm oil is the most commonly used donut frying medium. It’s readily available and can target the melting profiles that are important for donut fats. Domestic-sourced fat systems are another option. Interesterified soy is a solution that can work well for case donuts or frozen ready-to-finish products. It provides a clean, fried flavor note and the benefits of rapid re-solidification. Blended oils are also common in retail bakeries.

What are some key formulation challenges with donut fry oil options that ADM has addressed – and answered with viable solutions?

There are several variables that impact the overall success of a donut formulation. Much of the troubleshooting we address with our customers is related to the functionality of the fats and oils as the donut is coming out of the fryer. For example, the rate of lipid crystallization and time to cool can affect how glaze adheres to a donut. Adjustments can correct a sugar topping from liquefying or sliding over time. The type of oil might also affect flavor release. Balanced fat content is also important to achieve the expected richness of a donut that doesn’t build up on the palate.

We provide custom blended oil solutions to achieve exactly what bakery operators are looking for in their finished donuts. We can target very specific functionality, such as extended shelf life, specific melt characteristics, enhanced taste and texture and even nutritional profile. For instance, palm and soy or palm and canola blends have the functionality of shortening and can reduce saturates by up to 20%.

What are important troubleshooting techniques for retail bakeries to know and practice?

As a partner in formulation, we routinely guide bakers to solutions that will optimize their production. For example, retail bakeries can maintain cost and quality by maintaining good fryer oil maintenance practices. Donuts, with their oil absorption, provide balanced oil turnover. This consistent topping off with fresh oil lends itself to achieving a steady state in oil quality and fried flavor while limiting any oil waste.

For a donut itself, moisture in the dough can affect size and shape. It all comes back to time and temperature. Moisture can also be a factor in filled donuts, which are a little more challenging than ring donuts. Bakers must balance the transition between the fried donut and the filling without moisture migration that can cause sogginess or staleness. Checks and balances can help a bakery get it right.

How are current trends in nutrition influencing demand for specific donut fry oils?

We see two main trends influencing the donut category, including the evolution of permissible to purposeful indulgence and an increase in values-based shopping.

Donuts are traditionally a breakfast food, but they are crossing over into more eating occasions. Globally, 65% of consumers say it’s okay to occasionally enjoy indulgent treats as part of a healthy diet1. Donuts may be a Sunday morning splurge or a fun addition to wedding dessert arrays. They can also be a gateway into the active nutrition space. For a more purposeful treat, consumers are seeking donuts that are texturally very different though they might retain the classic shape or flavors. They’re often baked rather than fried, and likely have inclusions like protein, vitamins or botanicals that provide a consumer-perceived health halo. Donuts present a unique opportunity for bakers to experiment with different functional and flavor experiences, ushering in new ways to enjoy donuts.

Another trend is the growing consumer focus on how products are sourced and how they might impact the environment. With 58% of global consumers saying they are more attentive to locality claims due to COVID-192, domestic-sourced fat systems (like soy) are sometimes key to the product narrative. Furthermore, a reported 73% of global consumers have a more positive perception of companies that are transparent about where and how products are made, raised or grown3. We follow strict standards for our palm oil supply chain, upholding sustainable, ethical and responsible sourcing practices that our customers, and consumers, can trust.