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A potato doughnut is a fried dough bakery product made with potato starch or mashed potatoes instead of the more typical wheat flour. This type of doughnut did not appear commercially in the United States until the middle of the 20th century, but pastries made with both white potatoes and sweet potatoes have existed internationally for centuries.
The typical doughnut is made from flour, eggs, milk, butter, and sugar. A cake doughnut is generally made with baking powder, while a raised doughnut is typically made with yeast. Both varieties are usually deep-fried, though baked doughnuts are also available. The potato doughnut substitutes potato starch for some or all of the wheat flour, though some versions use either white or sweet potatoes, usually mashed or puréed.
Potato doughnuts can be shaped, filled, and frosted like any other type of doughnut. They are reputed to be of a lighter and fluffier texture than the typical wheat flour doughnut, but they have a similar number of calories. Types of doughnuts include the French “beignet,” the German “Bismarck,” and the Dutch “cruller.” The Polish “paczki,” the Canadian “Persian,” and the Mexican “churro” and “sopaipilla” are often classified as doughnuts. Potato starch or pulp can be substituted for the wheat flour in these doughnut varieties as well.
A chain of doughnut shops called “Spudnuts” was opened in the 1940s by Utah brothers Bob and Al Pelton. To name their unknown potato doughnut creation, they combined the term “spud,” a colloquialism referring to potatoes, and “nut” to remind people of its doughnut properties. At one time the Spudnuts chain spread throughout the United States from coast to coast. These shops can still be found in a dozen states, and Spudnuts doughnut mix is available online.
Potato doughnuts made from sweet potatoes are a culinary treat in Malaysia. India and Indonesia also include the potato doughnut in their cuisine. The Malaysian “kuih keria” and the Indonesian “donat kentang” are sweet doughnuts, while the Indian “vada” is typically a more savory fried dough food served with various flavors of sweet and sour chutneys.
The number of calories or kilojoules in a potato doughnut generally depends on the weight, filling, and topping just as it does with a wheat flour doughnut. A simple glazed doughnut is typically around 150 calories (628.02 kJ), while a filled, frosted doughnut is usually 240 (1004.83 kJ) or more. Substituting potato for flour does not increase the nutritional value of the doughnut, since both versions are mainly starch and fat.