Did you know the doughnut maker was invented by a refugee?

Back in 1920, Russian refugee Adolph Levitt had a business selling doughnuts at his bakery in New York City. With high demand and pressures to get them out faster, Levitt invented the first doughnut machine that same year. He used the machine to make millions selling wholesale deliveries to bakers around the US. By 1934, doughnuts were billed as “the food hit of the Century in Progress,” and even handed out by the Red Cross in World War II. 

The Great British Bake Off is returning to our screens, so we thought this was the perfect occassion to celebrate Adolph Levitt's invention with a recipe to make some doughnuts yourself - fear not, you don't need a machine to make these!  

Jam doughnut recipe

Sugary donut
Learn how to make doughnuts, inspired by Adolph Levitt!


For the doughnut dough

250g plain flour
65g butter
5g salt
2 tsp dried yeast
30g caster sugar and 110g for coating
2 eggs
Zest of half a lemon
75 ml warm water

For the filling

125 ml cream
60 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
60g strawberry jam


  1. Place flour, salt, dried yeast, caster sugar, eggs, lemon zest and warm water into a mixer with the dough hook attached. Work on a low speed until it is well-combined (around 4 minutes)
  2. With the mixer still running, add the butter gradually until there is no visible pieces (5-8 minutes)
  3. Cover with plastic sheeting and put in a warm place until the dough has risen to twice the size
  4. Whilst you're waiting, make the filling. Place the cream, milk and vanilla into a small saucepan, and place over a medium heat.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, caster sugar, and cornflour. When the milk begins to bubble around the edges, remove it from the heat, and slowly whisk it into the egg mixture.
  6. Pour the mixture back into the pan, and place over a medium heat, whisking constantly until it starts boiling (around 3 minutes)
  7. Once the mixture is the consistency of soft butter, scrape it out into a bowl, cover and set aside to cool completely.
  8. When the dough has risen put it onto a well-floured surface, pat the dough into a rectangle just over 1cm thick, and cut out 9 donuts using a 5cm round cutter.
  9. Place the dougnuts on a lined baking sheet, cover with plastic again, and set aside to rise for another 45 minutes, or until puffy.
  10. When the donuts are finished their second rise, place about 2 inches of oil into a high-sided pan. Check the oil is at the right temperature by placing a small piece of dough into it, if it rises to the surface and bubbles it's ready
  11. Fry the donuts a few at a time (don't crowd the pan) for about 1 minute each side or until they are golden brown and cooked through.
  12. Drain the donuts on paper towels, and when they are all fried, toss them in caster sugar.
  13. To fill the donuts, ripple the cooled pastry cream with the blackberry jam, and then place the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a nozzle. Press the piping bag into the side of each donut, and squeeze until you can feel the weight of the donut increase slightly.

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Let us know that you're cooking by sharing your photo with us on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtags #GBBO and #StandWithRefugees.

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