Donuts are made from dough - our 'D' word of the week. However, donuts are not something that I make at home, nor do I indulge in on an regular basis.
We lived in Singapore when my son was 10 years old. There were bakeries on every corner, our favorite being Polar. These bakeries all had donuts (and my personal favorite - curry puffs!) Singapore donuts are restricted to yeast dough - so very light and airy - and always, always baked. When we moved back to the USA, we went to an American donut shop and purchased some donuts. My son intensely disliked these fried, heavy cake donuts.
He missed the yeast.
Yeast will 'proof' in liquid that is approximately 110 degrees Fahrenheit (F). Typically, the liquid is warm water. I use warm tap water. How do I know the proper temperature of the tap water? I run it over my finger. Logically, if the body is 98.6 degrees F then if the water feels warm, not hot, to my finger, it is about the correct temperature. If it is a smudge above 110, don't worry! Heat loss in the transference from the tap to the proof bowl will happen. Water that is too hot will kill the yeast, and in water that is too cold, nothing will happen; the yeast will sit inert. The finger in the tap method has never failed me.
Most yeast dough recipes will have the proof liquid stirred into a portion of the flour, along with the remaining ingredients. These remaining ingredients can be salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs, butter, herbs - depending on the recipe. At this point, you can stir the dough with a wooden spoon. Stir very, very well until everything is incorporated. After all the initial ingredients are mixed - you will dump out the very soft dough onto a clean work surface. Now the real work begins - adding the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, kneading and turning and kneading and turning until you have a smooth, pliable dough. You will not always need to add all the flour called for in the recipe. This is where practice and repetition will teach you how dough should feel.
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