Lestelle Greenwalt, of Layton, was surprised when her 5-year-old son Cameron insisted he could make doughnuts. She had attempted to make them only once before and described the experience as a “complete failure.”
But, after seeing a doughnut demonstration on a cooking show, Cameron was sure he would be a pro. “He kept asking me until we found a recipe, and that little, tiny kid was able to make them by himself after the first few tries,” Greenwalt said.
Cameron Greenwalt, now 13 and an eighth-grader at Central Davis Junior High School, is teaching doughnut-making classes to adults.
At a workshop in Farmington hosted by the Utah State University Extension Service this summer, he shared his tips and commented on the process, saying, “I like mixing the dough. It feels good in my hands.”
In spite of his natural baking ability, Cameron said math and science are his favorite subjects, and he plans to pursue a career in engineering.
His mathematical and scientific abilities have helped Cameron perfect his doughnut recipe. Understanding that dry ingredients, particularly flour, expand and contract based on the amount of moisture in the air, he decided to buy a kitchen scale and convert his recipe to weight measurements.
“This is the best way to do bread and everything,” he said of his method. He finds that weighing the ingredients ensures perfect doughnuts every time.
He starts by pouring everything into a bowl sitting on a kitchen scale to show how many grams he has added as he goes. Scales such as the one he uses can be bought at a kitchen store or ordered online for about $20. He then uses a stand mixer to thoroughly combine everything. This part only takes about eight minutes.
“You can also mix the dough by hand if you don’t have a mixer. It doesn’t do as good of a job, and it takes longer, but it is possible,” he said.
The dough is left to rise for about 45 minutes, until it doubles in size. Cameron then rolls it on a floured surface to a thickness of about 5/8 inch and begins cutting out the doughnuts.
He finds that a sterilized tuna can with some holes poked in the bottom makes the perfect doughnut cutter. A measuring cup for liquid medicines, designed to hold 1 teaspoon, makes a good tool for cutting out the centers.
Cameron arranges the uncooked, formed doughnuts on a cookie sheet, leaving a little room in between so that they don’t grow together. After rising for another 15-20 minutes, the doughnuts are ready to fry.
Cameron uses a deep-frying pan of vegetable oil on the stove with a thermometer to carefully monitor the temperature. “Three hundred sixty-five degrees is the perfect temperature. We want them to be light and crispy, not chewy,” he said.
He recommends using at least 1 1/2 to 2 inches of oil so that the doughnuts float and don’t burn against the bottom of the pan. “I use wooden skewers to turn my doughnuts. It makes it easier and I don’t burn myself,” he said.
After each doughnut is cooked, it is important to allow the oil to return to 365 degrees before adding another.
When making the glaze, Cameron advises, “Don’t stir too fast or it will break the sugar crystals. And, wait for all the air bubbles to disappear for a smooth glaze.”
Cameron typically cooks around 60 to 70 doughnuts at a time, and sells them to neighbors for $6 a dozen.
When he first began his business, he saved up for an electric scooter. Next, he decided to donate his profits to an uncle who needed help paying medical bills. At this time of year, he stays busy filling orders for Halloween parties.
One of four siblings, Cameron isn’t the only entrepreneur in the family. His sister, Elsa Greenwalt, 15, said their older brother had a neighborhood window-washing business a few years ago, and she has tried her hand at selling ice cream sandwiches in the past.
“Now I just come along for the moral support,” said Elsa, while sampling Cameron’s doughnuts. “I like the orange glaze the best.”
Lestelle Greenwalt said she is proud of Cameron’s abilities. “He is an amazing kid who puts his mind to something and does it. He just has a gene that tells him he loves doughnuts and he has put it to good use.”
As for her doughnut-making skills, she said she has adopted a new policy of, “If at first you don’t succeed, wait until your kid makes you do it.”
Cameron’s Award-Winning Doughnuts
Note: Cameron recommends using a kitchen scale to measure the flour to ensure perfect doughnuts every time. The amount of flour needed when measured in cups varies due to humidity. However, 125 grams of flour is about 1 cup, depending on the climate.
2 1/4 cups warm water
1/2 cup powdered milk
1/2 cup melted shortening
967 grams all-purpose flour
43 grams sugar (or 1/4 cup)
3/4 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons instant yeast
Combine all ingredients in a kitchen mixer and thoroughly mix with a dough hook until the dough can stretch without breaking (about 8 minutes).
Cover and let rise until double in size (about 45 minutes).
Roll out onto a floured surface to about 5/8-inch thick. Cut 3 1/2-inch-diameter circles and then a hole of about 1 inch out of each center.
Place doughnut cutouts on a floured cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a deep pan on medium heat until it reaches 365 degrees. Fry doughnuts on one side for 45 seconds, making sure oil is deep enough for the doughnut to float without touching the bottom of the pan. Flip and fry the other side for 45 more seconds.
Remove from oil and set on cooling racks to dry.
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 heaping cups powdered sugar
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla on the lowest stovetop setting. When warm, add 2 heaping cups of powdered sugar and stir until smooth and translucent. Dip tops of doughnuts in glaze and set right side up on cooling racks to dry.