Toutons: Newfoundland-style fried buns

Imagine for a moment a creation made from bread dough and cooked like a pancake, that puffs up like a doughnut, has the crispy-chewy texture of a pretzel and – to come full circle – tastes comfortingly like a fresh loaf of bread. 


You’ve just dreamed up the touton (that’s tau-tin, delivered in your best maritime accent). And, depending on how you feel about carbohydrates, you can thank or blame the good people of Newfoundland for bringing it to life. 


Complicated though their classification may be, toutons are simple things in their construction. After its first rise, a standard batch of bread dough is divided up and shaped into little rounds, which are shallow-fried in a mix of butter and oil (or, more traditionally, pork fat) until golden. Top with a pat of butter and a good drizzle of molasses and – behold! – toutons. Add a few breakfast sides and a gale, and you’ll have yourself a fine east coast morning.


Now, if molasses isn’t your thing, not to worry – toutons can still be yours for the enjoying. See, because toutons are made from bread dough, the end results, like bread, can be dressed up with sweet or savoury toppings with equal success; a quick spin online will turn up toutons in the guise of pancakes, serving as the base for eggs Benedict, and split and used as the bookends of a sandwich. I enjoyed mine with cinnamon-sugar, while my sister was more taken by the touton sprinkled with garlic powder and salt. When it comes to pancake-doughnut-pretzel-buns, anything goes. 

Adapted from and, with many thanks to Peter for introducing me to the idea
Makes 8 tasty toutons

1.5 tsp white sugar
1/4 cup of warm water
3 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 cup of milk (1% or greater)
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup of cold water
3/4 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp white sugar
2-3 cups of all-purpose flour
~1/2 cup olive or canola oil, for cooking
For serving: molasses, cinnamon sugar, butter, breakfasty things like poached eggs and tomatoes, etc.! 


1. In a large bowl, dissolve the 1.5 tsp of white sugar in the warm water, then stir in the yeast. Let stand for 10 minutes, or until the yeast is bubbly and weird looking.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium-high until it’s steaming and small bubbles form around the edges of the saucepan. Stir in the butter until it melts, then stir in the cold water, salt and 1/2 tsp white sugar. Let sit until it’s only warm (not hot!) to the touch, then stir it into the bubbly yeast mixture.


3. With a wooden spoon, stir 1 cup of flour into the liquids until the mixture is smooth. Slowly mix in more flour until you’ve made a moist dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Be careful not to add so much flour that the dough becomes stiff. 

4. Knead the dough on a lightly floured flat surface (or in the same bowl, like I do), adding more flour as needed to keep it from getting sticky, for 10 minutes. 


5. Place the dough in a clean, well-oiled bowl, turning the dough to coat it in the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and place it somewhere warm and draft-free (I popped mine in the oven, with the heat off but the oven light on). Let it rise until it has doubled in size – should take about an hour. 


6. Gently squash down the puffy dough with your hands to pop the bigger air bubbles. Divide the dough into eight, equal-sized balls. Flatten the balls into circular patties, about 1/2 inch thick and 3 inches across. 

7. Preheat the oven to 200°F.

8. Fill a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan with 1/2 inch of cooking oil (or a mix of oil and butter). Set the pan over medium-high heat and heat the oil until it reaches ~275°F (the oil should just be beginning to sputter). 

9. Using a spatula or tongs, carefully transfer as many rounds of dough into the pan as will comfortably fit. Fry the rounds until the bottoms are golden (2-4 minutes), then flip and fry the other sides until golden (1-3 minutes), lowering the heat as necessary to keep the toutons from burning and the oil from getting super-hot. Place the fried rounds on an ungreased baking tray and let sit in the warm oven for 10 minutes to ensure they’re cooked through. Repeat with the remaining rounds of dough. 

10. Serve the cooked rounds hot from the oven, with molasses, butter, cinnamon sugar, garlic powder, or any other tasty thing you can think of. Like most types of fried dough, toutons are tastiest when hot and fresh. But if you can’t make your way through eight fried buns, simply store the extras like you would bread and toast them back to deliciousness. 


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