As if a doughnut in and of itself isn't a treat enough, a warm doughnut rises to another level. Doughnuts are by no stretch classified as healthy, but as an occasional treat, warmed to bring out all the luscious flavors, a doughnut now and then won't kill you.
When to Warm
Fresh doughnuts have as much need of warming as somewhat stale ones that are one or two days old, because warming makes them taste better. Your taste buds can detect sweet flavors when foods are somewhere between room temperature and body temperature. Doughnuts will keep one to two days on your counter and up to one week in the fridge, but they will harden and become stale within that time period. Heating softens and freshens them. Without a cream filling, doughnuts retain their quality for up to three months in the freezer, wrapped tightly in freezer-grade plastic or foil.
Warming in the Microwave
Nothing could be easier than setting your doughnut on a paper towel or piece of parchment and zapping it for a few seconds. Consider the size and type of the doughnut before you heat, and begin by heating for only 10 seconds because baked goods can toughen up quickly if you microwave them for too long. Then, add more time in 5-second intervals until the doughnut warms up just as you like it.
Use caution when you heat an iced doughnut, because you don't want the icing to end up sliding off the doughnut. And, use caution when eating warmed cream-filled and jelly-filled doughnuts because the filling may be much hotter than the rest of the doughnut.
Warming in the Oven
Iced doughnuts are not good candidates for warming in the oven. Because oven-warming takes about 5 minutes, the icing will end up all over the warming pan instead of staying put on the doughnut. On the other hand, if you want to reduce the calories in your doughnut, allowing some of the icing to slide off will do the trick. For non-iced doughnuts, place them on a baking sheet or piece of foil, and heat them in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on their size.
Doughnuts for Rare Occasions Only
You already know that the high amounts of saturated fat, sugar and processed carbs in most doughnuts make them a food in name only. What you might not know is that manufacturers can list their products as free of trans fats, as long as the products have less than .5 grams. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that you eat absolutely no trans fats because they can increase your risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Cream-filled and frosted doughnuts are especially prone to containing trans fats. Buyer beware.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.