What makes a perfect doughnut? Like the age-old questions asking what makes a perfect matzo ball (floaters or sinkers?) or a perfect bagel (New York style or Montreal?), the debate over what makes the perfect doughnut is a heated one. Should it be a light and fluffy yeast doughnut or a thicker cake doughnut? Should it have cinnamon sugar, glaze or powdered sugar? Jelly filled, cream filled or filled with nothing but air, because there's an appropriately sized hole in the middle? Let's not even get started on the cruller. As luck would have it, a mathematician in England has just supposedly identified the mathematically perfect doughnut.
The Telegraph reports that Dr. Eugenia Cheng, Senior Lecturer of Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, came up with a "squidgy to crispy ratio" to measure doughnuts and find the ideal one. If you're wondering what "squidgy" means, you're not alone. "Squidge" means to squash or crush, so the doughnut's "squidginess" or "squidge factor" refers to how much it squashes in your mouth. (It's also a completely endearing Britishism that makes us wish the English could describe all of our food.)
Metro UK explains Cheng's formula: "We take the overall volume of the doughnut and then subtract the volume of the squidgy part on the inside, which is itself in the shape of a doughnut, with the same R (radius of doughnut) but smaller r (radius of dough.)." Stay with us. Basically Cheng believes the size of the doughnut hole is critical for affecting the way the doughnut tastes. The smaller the hole, the more squidgy the doughnut, because there's more surface area to squidge and less dead space. A bigger hole makes for a crispier doughnut, because there's less fluffy dough to squash, and less dough will crisp faster. We think that's the idea, anyway.
The kicker of this whole equation is that it's commissioned by none other than Domino's Pizza. Domino's UK started selling a new line of doughnuts last month, and apparently it hired a scientist to find the ultimate doughnut. Cheng says that the squidgy-to-crispy ratio in Domino's doughnuts is 78:22, because its doughnuts have smaller-than-average holes. Whether or not this particular ratio is "perfect," and whether or not more squidge equals tastier doughnuts, is, of course, up for debate.
Judging by appearance alone, the size of the hole in many of America's favorite doughnuts (seen below) -- from the classic to the gourmet -- may not indicate anything at all. Like all great food debates, it would appear that the perfect doughnut is still a completely subjective matter. We're willing to try 'em all though, in the name of science. If anyone gets their hands on Domino's doughnuts in the UK, please tell us how it ranks on a scale of 1 to perfection.