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Mathematician Creates Formula for the Perfect Donut

(Photo: Jerry Huddleston)

Dr. Eugenia Cheng is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Sheffield (UK). She recently used calculus to determine the optimal hole size in a donut.

A larger hole produces increased surface area and therefore a donut interior that is cooked more thoroughly. So, if I follow Dr. Cheng correctly (which is highly unlikely), then the two qualities of a donut are what she calls “squidginess” and “crispiness.” The bigger the hole, the greater the crispiness.

The ideal ratio of squidgy to crispy is approximately 3.5:1, which is the result of a donut with a hole of 11 millimeters. An article in the Daily Telegraph about this discovery does not explain how Dr. Cheng arrived at this conclusion, but I’ll chalk that up to advanced math resulting from substantial experimentation.

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Like a lot of things in cooking that involve getting a well cooked outside and lightly cooked inside, the size of baked goods don't just scale up and down proportionately. At the very least, the ratio of surface area to volume would change if you just scaled the hole up with the size of the whole donut, even if the math behind the claim in the story is BS.
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