Fancy Doughnuts in a Plain World: “Amish Crack”

When Allison came home after spending a day in Northern Indiana doing research for an article she is writing about the Amish community and the RV industry, she told me she had sampled the best doughnut of her life. She said the locals call them “Amish Crack” because they are so delicious and addictive. I’m not a baker; most of my cooking involves dishes that are tasty – but fast! (Visit the Yates Yummies blog) Roy always laughs and says everything I make takes 15 minutes tops, so I’m not geared to the patient process of waiting for dough to rise. Plus I lack a basic understanding of the chemistry aspect of baking. However, after Allison found a post on Finding Harmony Blog that documented the author’s attempts at duplicating Rise’n Roll Bakery’s Cinnamon Caramel Doughnut, I had a desire to join in on the search for a recipe. What a wild ride! After several attempts I managed to cover every surface of my kitchen with a thin layer of flour and/or confectioners sugar and had some spectacular failures (think rock hard or envision a tire deflating).   I’ve documented what I learned below, along with the recipe I finally settled on. If anyone out there tries it, I would love to hear feedback! Likewise, if there is a better recipe for these delicious morsels, please share! To print out the recipe, scroll down to the bottom of this post and click on the “button”.

Just a quick aside – above and below are photos I took in 2015 while visiting Amish Acres in Nappanee , an attraction/museum dedicated to preserving historic buildings of the early Amish settlers in Indiana.

We spent three days in Nappanee while our motor home was being serviced at the Newmar Corporation. We were able to take a factory tour and experienced a bit of cognitive dissonance watching hustling Amish workers string yards and yards of electrical wires onto the RVs being built.

We also traveled to Shipshewana (above left, and right) and LaGrange (above lower photo right). Except for the slow moving vehicle sign in the back, seeing the horse and buggies is like going back in time.

The Amish try to keep their old ways while living in the modern world…

But let’s talk about the legendary doughnuts.

The Dough:

In the comments on the Finding Harmony Blog post, several people stated that they felt like potato was the secret ingredient needed to make the fluffy doughnuts. First I tried yeast-less potato dough, then potato dough with yeast. I also gleaned ideas from this recipe for Amish Doughnuts.

Here is what I learned:

  1. Resist the temptation to use a food processor to mix potato dough. The less handling the better or else the doughnuts will be dense, not fluffy. I realized that if I let the potato “melt” into the yeast water and then added it to the flour mixture, I could combine all the dough ingredients together with a fork.
  2. Grease the parchment paper that cut-out doughnuts are laid to rise on, or else they stick like crazy.
  3. Too long a second rise time made the doughnuts puff up so much the hole closed and when I tried to move them off the paper, they deflated. I fried a couple anyway and now I know why doughnuts need a hole; the middle stays raw when the outside is done.

The Caramel Glaze:

The Finding Harmony Blog post included two possible caramel glaze recipes; one used brown sugar and the other white sugar from the cook book Homemade Doughnuts: Techniques and Recipes for Making Sublime Doughnuts in Your Home Kitchen by Kamal Grant (Quarry Books, 2014). The white sugar recipe was tricky since it involved heating the sugar to caramelize it, but the flavor was truly superior.

Here is what I learned:

  1. The white sugar turns to burnt sugar very quickly once it starts to change color. Err on the side of caution and pull it off the heat sooner than later. It is tricky.
  2. When caramelizing the sugar it will turn into a hard ball when other ingredients are added to it. After searching for information on how to correct it, I found a What’s Cooking America post that advised adding a drop of lemon juice to prevent the problem.
  3. However, while the drop of lemon juice improved the situation, it didn’t entirely prevent all of the water/sugar mixture from hardening up on my stirring spoon and in the bottom of the pan. I found that heating the cream up in the microwave for 20 seconds so that it was warm, but not curdled, helped a lot.

So here’s the recipe that resulted from all my experimentation:

Amish Crack Doughnuts – Yields About 2 Dozen Doughnuts


For Dough:

1 (around 10 oz.) potato

4 cups water

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups self-rising flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

3 eggs

1/2 cup shortening (such as 1/2 of a Crisco Baking Stick)

2 packages yeast

Large bottle of vegetable oil (about 24 oz.)

Extra self-rising flour for rolling out dough

Ingredients for Caramel Glaze:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 drop lemon juice

3/4 cup of butter

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Ingredients for Cinnamon Powdered Sugar

2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Directions for Doughnuts:

Add the Peel and cube potato. Place in sauce pan with 4 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain the potatoes and reserve the cooking water.

While the potato is cooking combine the all-purpose flour, self-rising flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

When it has cooled down to a warm but not hot temperature, place two cups of the potato cooking water in a medium sized bowl and pour the yeast over the top of it. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes until it looks smooth but foamy. Give it a stir.

Use a ricer or push the cooked potato through the holes of a colander. Don’t worry if the potato just ends up being mashed. Add the riced or mashed potato to the yeast water and give it a stir. The potato will sort of dissolve and disintegrate into the water.

Melt the shortening and allow to cool slightly. Whisk the eggs together.  Add the melted shortening, whisked eggs, and yeast/potato water to the flour mixture and store with a fork until it is combined. Don’t knead.

Grease the inside of a very large bowl with shortening or butter. Place the dough in the middle and cover with a tea towel. Allow to rise until double. This can take a couple hours, depending on how warm the room temperature is.

After the rising period, punch the dough down and place on a self-rising flour covered surface or pastry cloth. Knead just a couple times, then roll out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Using either a doughnut cutter or a glass turned upside down that is about 3 1/2 inches in diameter, cut out doughnuts. (If using a glass, cut holes out of the middle with an empty spice bottle or something similar.) Place the doughnuts on a baking sheet that has been covered with well greased foil or parchment paper. Cover with tea towels and let rest/rise for 1/2 hour.

Pour the vegetable oil in a large sauce pan. Heat to between 360 and 375 degrees. If working without a candy/cooking thermometer, the oil will be ready when it shimmers and a doughnut hole is surrounded by simmering bubbles when dropped in.

Fry 3 to 4 doughnuts at a time, about 2 minutes on each side. They will be lightly browned. Place cooked doughnuts on cooling racks which are on top of paper towels.

While the doughnuts are still warm, dip them into the Caramel Glaze (recipe below). Finish them off by placing the Cinnamon Confectioner’s Sugar (recipe below) in a fine mesh strainer and giving each doughnut a dusting.

Directions for Caramel Glaze

Cut the butter up into small cubes and set aside. Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan. Stir to combine then place over medium heat and allow to simmer/boil without stirring for around 7 to 10 minutes until the mixture browns but doesn’t pass to the burning point. Do not walk away from the stove! It takes a while to get it going, but once it gets to a golden brown color, it quickly goes to burning. Once it is golden brown, remove the pan from the heat. Heat the cream in the microwave for 20 seconds so that it is warm, but doesn’t boil or curdle. Whisk the warm cream, a little at a time, into the sugar syrup. Add the butter, a little at a time, while continuing to whisk. Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, salt, and vanilla until the mixture is smooth.

Direction for Cinnamon Confectioner’s Sugar

Place the confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir until blended together.



20 thoughts on “Fancy Doughnuts in a Plain World: “Amish Crack”

  1. Oh my goodness. You have done it–inspired me to try again with your marvelous and very well-explained directions! I’m excited–plus I get to visit Shipshewana in a couple weeks and we’ll hit Rise ‘n Roll near Middlebury and be inspired again. Thanks for your efforts and sharing. These look amazing. I’ll let you know–but it will likely be at least weeks if not months until I get the time to try these again. They are an effort as you well describe. Best to you!

      1. Hi there! I honestly don’t know what the results would be… If you did bake them, I would lightly spray them with cooking oil first because I feel that would result in achieving a similar color and outside texture. Please, if you ever do bake them – let me know how it went. Thanks!

  2. Again – for those of you that have never experienced one of these – OMG – let me tell you –
    you CANNOT eat just one.
    They now have a store in the South Bend area near Notre Dame.
    I look forward to trying this recipe to see how it works!!

  3. Hi Julie! Took up the challenge today with spectacular results thanks to your wonderful, clear directions and tips. The most challenging part was the caramel glaze. I used the lemon juice tip, but the sugar still got hard on the end of the whisk so I put the pan back on the lowest heat and whisked constantly while my daughter helped incorporate the butter and other ingredients. Success! The whole process took about five and a half hours from start to finish, including rising time. My son will be thrilled since Rise n Roll doesn’t come to our summer market anymore. Thank you sooo much!

    1. I am so, so glad you enjoyed the recipe! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment! Thanks for the tip on the caramel glaze – yep – it is so frustrating! The last time I made it, I had that same “hard ball stage” happen on the end of my whisk. I never got it all melted in, but used the glaze as it was. It was still really delicious – but I wish I knew how to prevent that from happening. Anyone out there know???

  4. I made these yesterday. I never make comments but I had to this time because these are great! Thanks for the recipe. The first time I tried to make the glaze I overcooked the sugar and water. The second time I slightly undercooked it (on purpose) and the glaze turned out great! After incorporating all the ingredients I returned the glaze to a boil to thicken it up a little.

    1. Brianna, I am so glad the doughnuts turned out great for you! Thank you for the tip on the glaze – I think your method of under-cooking the sugar and water, adding the other ingredients, and then returning the glaze to the heat to thicken it up a bit sounds like a good plan. I am always on the watch for tips on how to make things better. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

  5. Julie,

    Last week I left a comment on Melody’s post regarding your recipe. I have not had the Risenroll donuts but the way it is described, your recipe turned out just like it. Although you said not to knead the dough, Risenroll production on YouTube shows the dough is kneaded and docked before being cut into hexagon shaped doughnuts. I followed your recipe the first try. The dough was very sticky. The donuts came out great, my husband said don’t change anything. The second try, I used baked potatos, measured 10oz then pushed through a ricer. Used 2 cups of warm water in the recipe (instead of 2 cups potato water) I did not have self rising flour so I used 300 gr soft winter wheat flour (generous 2 cups) plus 1 T baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt. 460 gr all purpose flour (4 C all purpose flour). Instead of a fork, I used the Danish dough whisk. I let it rise in the fridge overnight. Why I put too much information on this comment? I used this recipe to make donuts for a PA Dutch family plus the husband’s sister and their parents this past Monday. I shop at the Father’s grocery store the last three years. BTW, I am not Amish. The father had two donuts (I didn’t say Amish crack donuts.) he said that they were the best he had ever had. They spoke in Dutch then the father tranlated into English what they were eating “extraordinary” I told the mom I will send your recipe except that the potatoes were baked, not boiled. She said she has a very good recipe as well and she would gladly share. The recipe use potato flour (not potato starch) for the sake of convenience.

    I had a wonderful time having lunch with these lovely people.


    1. Gigi, Thank you so much for your comment. I just love the story of your wonderful lunch. I really appreciate all the details you provided – it will certainly help me and everyone else in the continuing quest to master making these doughnuts! It does sound like your modifications may be the ticket since the father said they were the best he had ever had and that they were extraordinary!

      1. Hi Julie,

        My American sister and I finally had a chance to take a day trip to Indiannapolis in early June. Mary, her secon cousin Tommy in Indy and I met up at the Rise’n roll in Greenwood, about 15 miles from the airport. Tommy liked the donuts but he had never heard of Rise’n Rolls Bakery. I was being very obnoxious when I took the first bite. So we spent $1,000 to taste this? I am not a donut fan especially cake donut. The texture an appearance look more like a cake donut. I texted a photo to my husband. He said “looks like cake donut”, Kevin Grevey, my big brother tried it the next day, he said it tasted like Enntenman (No offense) Kevin is from Hamilton, Ohio. However, quite a few of my neighbors were crazy about them. So we are the outliers of Rise’n Rolls Donut. But we love your recipe.

        I found this in an article of Southbend Tribune:” that they switched from roll and cut dough to dough depositor. AND THEY SELL CAKE DONUTS!

        “Orvin stayed with the business and worked at becoming a food scientist as the business grew. When Rise’n Roll switched to using a machine that extruded the doughnuts rather than cutting them, their flavor and consistency changed and he worked to satisfy both production needs and taste buds.”

        “In the near future, look for more cake doughnuts and paczkis. When Crawford learned that Rise’n Roll was throwing away 50 to 70 pounds of crunch dust each week, he started working on a cake doughnut that could carry such goodness to one’s mouth instead. At the torch relay for Indiana’s bicentennial, the 12 dozen of those doughnuts were gone before the 12 dozen cinnamon caramel. Production got delayed a bit, but they’ll be available soon.”

        So even though the folk at Rise’n rolls on Facebook denied that they don’t make cake donuts, this confirms our belief that what we tried was cake donuts.

      2. Kim – thank you for this great comment! So sorry it has taken me so long to respond to it! Somehow it got buried in the basement of WordPress!

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