Americans know doughnuts as round pastries with holes in the middle, which are either coated with sugar or chocolate or stuffed with jam or cream. Doughnuts from around the world come with their own cultural spins, depending on where they are made.
The French call their doughnuts "beignets." Because they are made from a chewy type of dough, the texuture of these doughnuts is airy and light, and they are usually dusted with icing sugar. Beignets are primarily a fairground, street or seaside food, sold by the dozen so people can share them while out for a stroll.
In Spain and South America, doughnuts are called "churros." Bakers require a thick batter to create churros. The batter is placed in a piping bag and then squirted through a star-shaped nozzle onto a baking sheet. Churros are served with sugar, cinnamon or warm chocolate.
When in Rome, try the Italian favorite "frittoles." Although frittoles are available all over Italy, they are most popular during the Venetian carnival, held 40 days before Easter. The twist for the Italian doughnut is that pieces of dried fruit and citrus peel are added into the batter before deep-frying them in oil.
Doughnuts in Portugal are called "bolas de Berlim." The name originates not from Portugal, but from Germany, where the Portuguese copied the pasty recipe (Berlim means Berlin). However, the Portugese have made this treat their own by changing its shape into a large ball (bolas). These doughnuts are traditionally made from light batter and filled with egg custard.
In Poland they do things a little differently. Instead of filling the "paczki" doughnut after it's been deep-fried, they place the jam inside the paczki before frying. Before serving, the pastry is drizzled with honey, dusted with icing sugar or flavored with orange zest. Just as in Italy, the Polish doughnut is a traditional Lent food.
In India, doughnuts are called "gulab jamun," and they are traditionally served warm. These bite-size morsels are made of milky dough that is rolled into balls and then deep-fried. They are rarely served right away. Instead, they are soaked in sugar or syrup for a few hours and then sprinkled with saffron or cardamom.
In Turkey, they call doughnuts "lokma." These flour-and-yeast batter balls are soaked in honey or syrup, deep-fried and then topped with pistachio sprinkles. Even though lokma is a street food, it is traditionally served with strong Turkish coffee.
Doughnuts are colorful in Pakistan, where they are known as either "jaangiri," "emarti" or "imarti." Bright orange in color, this pretzel-like pastry is deep-fried, soaked in syrup and then colored with saffron. These doughnuts are sweet, sticky and cheerful.
The Chinese combine the making of a doughnut, known as "ghost sticks," or Chinese donut sticks, with a little history, and they know how to hold a grudge. More than 800 years ago, Chinese hero Yue Fei was framed by Qin Hui and his wife. The double-stick pastry symbolizes the hated couple. These knobby, dough fried sticks appear more like a crueller or bread stick, but they are eaten for breakfast with warm milk or hot cereal.
Doughnuts around the world all follow a basic batter recipe of flour, eggs, milk, sugar and oil, but the thickness of the batter and additional ingredients differs from country to country.