Dough Nuts – Historical Context
Randolph presented these doug-hnuts as something different from the typical Southern fare by describing them as “a yankee cake”. This aligns with what we know about the origins of doughnuts in American cuisine. Though there are several disputed accounts of the origins of the pastry, most of them seem to attribute them to Dutch settlers in North America in the early 19th century. Since we know that the majority of Dutch settlers came to New York, the idea of doughnuts being a “yankee” pastry lines up.
Because the cookbook was published in 1824, that would explain why these doughnuts look nothing like the rings we’ve come to expect at Dunkin and Krispy Kreme. According to the Smithsonian and other sources, the holed doughnut was invented by Captain Hanson Gregory while at sea in 1847. While this story is difficult to confirm, it does line up with the advent of the hole.
Randolph’s are probably closer to the Dutch settlers’ original, and it’s quite possible that she was the first to introduce these doughnuts to the South.