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Isle of Wight Doughnuts

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by James Rayner, author of ‘Isle of Wight Historic Food’

Based on a recipe of 1845.

Makes 10

300g strong white bread flour

150 – 175ml whole milk

50g unsalted butter, cubed

50g fine brown sugar or light muscovado, sieved

7g sachet of instant yeast

2 tsp. allspice

1⁄4 tsp. cinnamon

a pinch of ground cloves

a pinch of ground mace

1⁄2 tsp salt

Vegetable oil for deep frying


Either – small wild plums, or piped plum jam

  1. Sift the flour and spices into a bowl, adding the salt and sugar on one side of the mixture and the yeast on the other. Add the softened butter and 120ml of the milk then combine by hand. Gradually add as much of the remaining milk as you need until the dough is soft and slightly tacky.
  2. Knead the dough on a flour dusted surface until smooth and no longer sticky. Oil the bowl, return the dough to it and cover, leaving it somewhere warm to rise until it has doubled in size.
  3. Line two metal baking trays with baking parchment. Place the dough back on a floured work surface and fold inwards until the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. Divide into ten pieces and roll into balls.
  4. Make a hole in each ball of dough with the thumb and push or pipe a little of the filling inside. Stretch the dough over the hole to close it, pinching and twisting the join to seal it. Once filled, place the balls on the baking trays and cover for 45 minutes to double in size. They should ultimately be about the size of a cricket ball.
  5. Deep fry the balls, a few at a time for around seven minutes, until cooked through and a fine brown in colour. Turn them over half way through to ensure even colouring
  6. Remove the doughnuts from the pan with a slotted spoon, drain on kitchen paper and leave to cool.

To find out more about Isle of Wight Doughnuts and other forgotten local specialities, take a look at James Rayner’s latest book: ‘Historic Isle of Wight Food’. Available from shops across the Island, including The Garlic Farm in Newchurch, Joli and Medina Books in Cowes, It’s About Thyme and Babushka Books in Shanklin, and Caffe Isola, The Little Nook, Island Traders and Waterstone’s in Newport. It’s also available to order online from