Cake dough sticks to the bowl. It sticks to your hands. It can be exasperating. The truth is that cake donuts should have a sticky dough—it’s a cake dough, not a bread dough, after all. So what can you do? Inexperienced cooks tend to roll or pat the dough out on a well-floured surface, then dust it with more flour. This does make the dough easier to handle. Unfortunately, it also tips the balance of ingredients into the realm of a bread dough, yielding a dense, chewy donut. Professional donut makers understand this; that’s why they use a machine, an extruder, that forces dough through a hole-centered die, dropping delicate rings, unfettered by excess flour, straight into the oil. The result is a tender, moist confection. Since most extruders won’t fit in a home kitchen, we came up with a few manual methods for working with the sticky dough. First, lightly oil or wet your hands. Roll about a quarter cup dough into a ball, pat it into a disk, and poke a hole in it with your thumb. Then slide it carefully into the frying oil. Another good method: Using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough onto a plastic-wrapped cookie sheet, then chill. The dough won’t stick to the plastic wrap, and chilling firms it, removing tackiness. Or dispense the dough from an oiled antique-style donut press (pictured) or an Indian medu vada maker. These tools—essentially handheld manual extruders—can be found online.

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