Ask the Chef

Celebrate National Doughnut Day with a Recipe From Rhino Doughnuts Pastry Chef

National Doughnut Day. No, it's not just some holiday that Dunkin' Donuts made up for their own purposes — Doughnut Day dates back to 1938 when The Salvation Army officially recognized the men and women who served doughnuts to soldiers during WWI. Nowadays, it's just an excuse to eat free doughnuts, but at least there's a legitimate reason to bite into a piece of this sweet, fried dough!

Although celebrity pastry chefs are sure to have their own special recipes for doughnuts, why not learn about what's being offered in your area, by a chef who caters to the taste buds of Broward and Palm Beach counties?

Enter Chef Davin Tran, co-owner of one of South Florida's top donut shops, Rhino Doughnuts. With his business partner, Tran aims to break the mold of traditional doughnut and coffee shops seen across the U.S. through craft-brewed coffees and gourmet doughnuts that will make you forgo the mass-produced stuff, for good. Packed with the freshest ingredients, you'll see doughnuts that reinvent the flavors found in your average candy bar to ones that emphasize the sweetness of your favorite fruits. Boasting three locations already, with a few more on the way, it's only right to ask the man behind this burgeoning doughnut empire about how to make a perfect doughnut. 

If you plan to flex your baking muscles on Friday, June 5, then try Tran's recipe for doughnut dough below and create your own filling and/or topping! Since Rhino Doughnuts are so darn good, we simply can't get our hands on their fillings and toppings! However, Tran recommends using an egg style custard and fresh, local jellies if you want to mimic their signature doughnuts. Be sure to tag #rhinodoughnuts with your variations while you celebrate! 

Tran discusses his creative process for doughnut recipes, what you can expect at Rhino Doughnuts at each location, and the scoop behind crafting an amazing doughnut.

New Times: Any plans for Donut Day?
Davin Tran: We’re offering free sprinkled donuts and decadent donuts at both of our locations. 

What is your creative process for developing new recipes? 
I browse the media a lot and social media. I also go through cookbooks to see what the latest trends are, as well as flavor profiles. We just look at the trends and see how we can mold it into donuts.

How would you describe your style as a pastry chef?
We try to do things out of the norm. We like to things push things to the limit. We avoid anything pre-made. Everything is from scratch. I’ll hire people from European bakeries and implement their influences. It’s a lot of trial and error, but I like to play around in the kitchen. 

How often does the menu change?
We always have our staples, like the Miami cream or the creme brûlée, but we’ll feature something new on a monthly basis. There's about four to five new donuts per month. It could be seasonal, or it could be something we really like. I'm retooling the business so customers can find different donuts at each location. There's a different head decorator at each location, but our core values are always the same. 

What makes a donut perfect?
The balance between flavor and texture. It has to have a medium-to-mild base flavor, and it has to be different than any other pastry. Overall, it's about the dough — the perfect dough makes the perfect donut. 

What do people need to make fresh donuts at home? 
I like to use fresh yeast from my kitchen. You need a good mixer with a dough hook on it so you can ensure that the gluten is worked up well. It's best to use a high-quality protein flour so that it creates a better structure for the dough. Once you make your dough, you must double line it. And then once it's cut, you can't over or underproof it. If you overproof the dough, it's chewy, and if you underproof the dough, it's too dense. I recommended double proofing for better flavor and texture. Your final proof is all about timing it to make sure it has the right balance. 

Basic Doughnut Dough


9.5 cups of flour
0.25 cups sugar
2 tbsp yeast
1.25 cups water
1.25 cups whole milk
1/2 stick butter
1 tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients into a mixer and put on medium power for 10 mins or until well mixed. Dough should pull away from the bowl very easily, during mix.

Let dough rest in bowl for 30 minutes, or until double in size.

Punch dough down to deflate and let rest for another 25 minutes.

Take the dough out of the bowl, and place on a floured table.Roll the dough out until it is approximately 3/8 of an inch thick.

Let dough relax and start to cut with a 3 inch doughnut cutter.

Set doughnuts on a frying screen and let proof for 30 minutes or until double.

Fry doughnuts at 375º and at approximately 45 seconds on each side. 

Remove and let cool before dressing.

Not up for baking? Head over to one of Rhino Doughnuts three locations and just buy one from the experts: 107 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale by the Sea; 8085 W. Oakland Park Blvd., Sunrise; 126 NE Second Street, Boca Raton. Call 855-RHINO74, or visit

Follow Gillian on Twitter, @Gillian_Speiser.
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Gillian Speiser
Contact: Gillian Speiser