Time to Make the Long Johns

Yeasted doughnuts

Even though, for all these years, I have apparently been oblivious to the famous “Time to make the doughnuts” commercial campaign, when I heard about Helene’s and Peabody’s similarly-named challenge, I wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to try my hand at doughnutmaking again. The only question was what sort of doughnut to make. We didn’t eat many Dunkin’ Donuts when I was growing up, but I still have a few fond doughnut memories. The first one that sprang to mind was eating plain cake doughnuts with hot chocolate on top of Pike’s Peak, but unless we drove up to Mount Hood to eat them, I just don’t think it would be the same. I decided to go with a childhood favorite from the grocery store: chocolate long johns.

Apparently, long johns are a regional thing—who knew? I can find unfilled chocolate bars and cream-filled round doughnuts, but the filling is always too much like pudding or custard. The filled bars I grew up with are non-existent in Oregon, though, and have consequently been added to my “unavailable cravings” list, along with funnel cakes and chicken nuggets from Chick-Fil-A. So, for this event, I decided to try my hand at Alton Brown’s yeasted doughnuts and make a few into long johns for my own personal gratification. (Jeremy doesn’t understand the attraction of long johns or funnel cakes, so the latter will have to get their own post as soon as I make acquaintance with a funnel of my very own.)

Yeasted doughnuts

This was my first experience with making yeasted doughnuts, but the dough was easy to make and very cooperative. I started early enough the day I made them that we even ended up eating breakfast several hours before lunchtime, which may be a first for homemade yeasted breakfast foods in our house. I’m still having some issues with getting my frying temperature right to avoid greasiness, but I think that will continue to plague me until I break down and at least buy a deep fry thermometer, or even an honest-to-goodness fryer. Because there are only two of us, I cut the recipe in half, and still got 10 round doughnuts, 3 bars, and a few doughnut holes from the batch. Everything got dipped in the chocolate glaze, which was absolutely luscious stuff: thick and shiny and well-behaved.

Long johns

For my three long johns, I picked out a filling recipe that sounded very much along the lines of what I remembered from childhood: nothing remotely dairy about it, just sugar and fat made up into a fluffy sort of frosting (mmm, I can’t imagine why Jeremy wouldn’t want one!). I do think I was in the right vein, but the particular recipe I tried ended up staying gritty even after 15 minutes in the stand mixer, so it wasn’t quite right. Still, it was close enough to tide me over until the next time we go back to Colorado for a visit, and now I can let myself periodically buy the yummy fresh doughnuts from King Donuts—just a few blocks from our house—without resentment or regret at their decided lack of long johns. (Oh, and just for the record… I’ve never eaten a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and I’m kind of proud of it, too!)

Yeasted Doughnuts

3/4 C milk
1 1/4 oz vegetable shortening
1 package instant yeast
3 T warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
1 egg, beaten
2 T sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
12 ounces AP flour, plus more for dusting surface
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the shortening. Place the shortening in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture has cooled to lukewarm. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch thick. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter or pastry ring and using a 7/8-inch ring for the center hole (I used a biscuit cutter and an apple corer to make my doughnuts). Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

If you plan to fill your doughnuts, cut the dough into either rectangles or non-perforated circles before frying. When cool, use a sharp knife to cut a pocket inside each doughnut, angling it as you cut so that the opening is smaller than the pocket itself (like stuffing chicken breasts or pork chops). Make your desired filling and pipe it into the pockets, making sure to use enough filling to entirely fill the pocket.

Source: Adapted from Good Eats, with Alton Brown.

Chocolate Doughnut Glaze

1/4 C unsalted butter
2 T whole milk, warmed
1 1/2 tsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 C confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Combine butter, milk, corn syrup, and vanilla in medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Decrease the heat to low, add the chocolate, and whisk until melted. Turn off heat, add the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Place the mixture over a bowl of warm water and dip the doughnuts immediately. Allow glaze to set for 30 minutes before serving.

Source: Adapted from Good Eats, with Alton Brown.

Creme Filling

1/2 C shortening (I used Spectrum)
1/2 C confectioners’ sugar
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Using an electric mixer, whip shortening in a medium bowl with confectioners’ sugar and white sugar until creamy and no longer gritty, 5 to 10 minutes.

Source: Adapted from AllRecipes.

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36 thoughts on “Time to Make the Long Johns

  1. February 11, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Wow, I just don’t know what to say, sensory overload! I think what you call long johns would be nearer what we call eclairs, which are topped with chocolate and filled with cream, although I think they are mostly made using a choux pastry. They look yum anyway. I couldn’t trust myself enough to make those!

  2. February 11, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    Eclairs are close-but-no-cigar when it comes to my childhood experience of long johns. Like you mentioned, they are usually made from choux pastry rather than a yeasted dough, and the filling is just not the same. Of course, I like to think that my taste buds have matured since my last opportunity to eat a long john (quite a few years ago), so maybe I’d prefer eclairs now anyway. Could be worth the experiment… 🙂

  3. February 12, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I almost made Alton’s recipe as well!! My husband bought me a deep fryer for Christmas, and although we don’t fry a whole lot, it is a good thing to have when you want to fry! My biggest problem is trying to store everything…

  4. February 12, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Deborah, storage is definitely an issue in our kitchen too. That, and having an actual deep fryer would encourage me to deep-fry more frequently. 🙂

  5. February 12, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    My teeth hurt, my belly is warm and my heart content!! Thanks for a wonderful entry!

  6. February 13, 2008 at 1:49 am

    Ohhh I want that creme filling! These look sooo good!

  7. February 16, 2008 at 2:31 am

    They look like a boston cream pie in a pastry…mmmm, so good.
    Thanks for participating.

  8. February 17, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    Thank you for explaining the name of the event…I had no idea it actually came from something! Ha!

    These look delicious. I love the bar ones. I could eat one. Now.

  9. February 18, 2008 at 9:19 am

    Oh my favorite kind of cream inside of a donut. I really think I love you. I must have these.

  10. February 18, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    those pictures make me hungry! what a wonderful submission!

  11. Karen
    February 24, 2008 at 7:35 am

    Thanks for the terrific recipe. I used Caster Cane Sugar (super fine sugar) in the creme filling and it wasn’t extremely gritty.

  12. February 25, 2008 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks everyone, for the feedback! Tartelette and Peabody, that was a great idea for an event, and the perfect excuse to try my hand at yeasted doughnuts for the first time.

    Gretchen, I didn’t know the origin of the name either, until my husband mentioned that commercial when I told him I was participating in the event.

    Karen, good call on the caster sugar! I have some and actually meant to use it, but totally spaced it out—probably because it isn’t generally something I have on hand. I’m glad you liked the recipe too!

  13. February 29, 2008 at 12:11 pm

    Oh dear, I love Long Johns! Haven’t had any in years, but yours look so yummy!

  14. March 9, 2008 at 11:14 pm

    Don’t know how I missed these. They’re lip smackin’ fan tabulous. I love chocolate covered doughnuts. And these look just like the ones I love to sink my teeth into. Yum. I’d never made doughnuts before this event, but it was so fun and there were so many great looking doughnuts, I just may have to go again. Nice job!

  15. Lynn
    April 3, 2008 at 9:45 am

    I am craving long johns like crazy, but not those seen here. I remember from my youth, the ones that had a tunnel of sorts down the middle of the bar, and that was where the cream, lemon jelly, chocolate cream (drool), went, and bulged out so temptingly. I’m not good at describing them, but it was sort of like the hot dog bun with the slit in the top middle, and the cream was in the slit. Does anybody know what I’m drooling and rambling about, and does anybody know how to make them…please???

  16. Donna
    April 12, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Actually have great donut recipe but was looking for the cream filling to make long johns. A friend mentioned usuing marshmellow cream but I was thinking on the lines of white cream most bakery’s use. Anybody have that reciepe. thanks

  17. connie
    February 12, 2009 at 11:24 am

    Rich’s makes a product called bettercreme which is a filling that you use hot water to thin it and make it fluffy for piping long johns. I grew up on the border of canada and ate creme filled long johns. I will make this recipe as it sure looks like the true filling but you can also try rich’s filling as I bought three dozen last time I was home and the filling is that like all the shope use or at least as close as your going to get. We have a rich’s here but I still have to go on line to order the product and it has a long shelf life in the refrigerator

  18. Sandy
    April 20, 2009 at 7:03 am

    Where did the lemon filled long johns go? I craved them while pregnant in 1966. My husband would get them from a vending machine where he worked. It was like a glazed donut, but cylinder shaped with lemon filling. Does anyone know who made them?

  19. Steve Weiss
    June 29, 2009 at 12:50 am

    I grew up in Michigan and in my early years wandered to Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois where I always found chocolate glazed longjohns with a whippend-cream like filling and after years of longing for them and not the fried yeast doughnuts either long-type or round-type that seem to be either a hollow disappointment or filled with some horrendous red or yellow jelly I finally found actual midwestern-style chocolate-glazed creme-filled longjohns at the Erickson’s Grocery Store Bakery in Madras, OR

  20. Jim Reece
    September 1, 2009 at 9:08 am

    What is the traditional long john called if it is circular, like a cream-filled donut with no hole? I ate one a couple of days ago at a hotel breakfast buffet.

  21. Josh
    September 27, 2009 at 5:50 am

    So can anyone help me – When I’m reading this recipe, I don’t know what the 3 T C warm water means? Is that 3 tablespoons and 3 cups or…? Thanks!

  22. September 27, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Josh, good catch! That should read 3 T (as in tablespoons) warm water, and I’ve made the correction in the post as well.

  23. l evans
    October 30, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    to make white fluff to fill donuts — mix shortening, powder sugar and vanilla as you would to make cake frosting. Prepare instant vanilla or bavarian pudding(or buy premade in a can)—using a mixer add a little of the pudding to the frosting mix. This is how the bakery makes fluff.

  24. becki Rose
    June 9, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    the donuts that everyone is talking about are about the most decedant sinful bakery morsel made in my opinion. All the old “real bakers” made these split bun like pastries with this thick fluff white filling and then dusted and rolled the pastry in confectionary sugar….It was divine.
    I think the dough may have been a cake consistancy…all I know is I found something pretty close at—WALMART this week…believe it or not. They put a new Super Walmart in and the bakery makes these. They are called “mad dogs” in the self serve section…They are real close to our childhold memories…Try them out.

  25. David Davis
    December 16, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Long Johns are close to eclairs but a little heavier. 55 years ago every morning recess from St. James school in Belvidere, Illinois was fulfilled with a Creme-filled chocolate topped long john for 6 cents and it was 5-6 inches long.

  26. Ted Nesbitt
    August 2, 2011 at 9:31 am

    The only place I have ever seen “mad dogs” is the Quality Bakery on 2nd St. in Moundsville, West Virginia. They are shaped like hot dog buns, with a yeast donut texture, split lengthwise and filled with a sweet, fluffy cream. The bakery has them in vanilla and chocolate — the color of the cream. They are named because they are shaped like hot dogs, and the cream looks like foam — as in “foaming at the mouth” — which mad dogs are supposed to do.

  27. Deborah
    September 3, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I remember long johns too and they are ABSOLUTELY NOT eclairs! Yes they are regional and while Krispy Kreme makes something similar in the “round” it isn’t a long john. Thanks for posting this…I may have to try it! It will definitely bring back childhood memories. Now if I could just fine a decent nutty doughnut recipe too I’d be in business 😉

  28. Kat
    October 7, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you for this recipe! I stumbled across this when trying to find another name for this very item! The bakery where I grew up in Wisconsin is now closed, but I would swear they had a name other than chocolate covered long johns. And I’m sure your filling is dead on! Do YOU know of any other name for them?
    I’ll be trying the recipe soon!

  29. Sarah
    November 30, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you for this recipe. I too stumbled upon it looking for the Krispy Kream cream filling recipe. I grew up eating Long John’s in Texas and this looks and sounds exactly like I remember from my childhood. I can’t wait to make them. I’ve been so disappointed over the years to bite into a “Long John” and it have Bavarian cream filling or some other “want to be” fillling. Yes, a disapointment.

    Does anyone remember the Banana Flips we ate as kids? They don’t make them anymore, according to the mfg. Any shots at a “come close” recipe?
    They were filled with a similar filling.

  30. Sarah
    November 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Does anyone remember Cream Horns as a child? Super Wal-Mart sells something called a Cream Curl that comes close. I’d love the old Cream Horn recipe. 🙂

  31. October 23, 2012 at 11:22 am

    I’m looking for the recipe for the creme filling for the Long Johns sold from the Quality
    Bakery in Ann Arbor, MI. I swear, it tasted like it had sweetened condensed milk. It wasn’t the fluffy great fillling that your recipe makes…it had a yellow tint…

  32. Lisa
    May 3, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I have been looking for a chocolate raised doughnut recipe. The doughnut I remember as a child, we used to call a chocolate Bismarck. It a chocolate raised doughnut with chocolate glaze and has a white vanilla cream filling! The filling recipe you have here sounds like the filling! but the doughnut I’m thinking of is a round chocolate doughnut, chocolate glaze and its filled with crème not a pudding or custard! Does anyone one know the doughnut I’m talking about? And does anyone have a recipe they could share for it? All I know know is they are wonderful! and we called them Chocolate Bismarks.Please help! I so badly want to make them at home for a Sunday breakfast.

  33. Caitlin
    September 25, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Are you from Colorado by any chance? Lol I’ve had the same problem with finding filled long johns. I grew up in Colorado and my favorite donut is a filled long John (although I prefer the custard-like filling), but I moved to Idaho and no one has ever heard of a filled long John, and few people know about long johns.

  34. September 30, 2015 at 7:22 pm

    Yes, actually I did grow up in Colorado! 🙂

  35. Terry
    December 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    How many does this recipe yield?

  36. Danielle
    April 25, 2018 at 6:49 am

    So I know this is a very old Post, but thank God I found it!!! I grew up on cream filled long johns when I lived in Michigan. Then my husband and I moved to Iowa. I was pregnant and one day late in my third trimester I needed a chocolate, cream filled long John. Well, since I had been very healthy through my entire pregnancy up to that point, I told my husband to go find me like 3 of them. He went to every single store and gas station around and couldn’t find any cream filled ones.
    Now I can make all the cream filled ones I could ever eat!!!

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