Doughnuts have been on my to-make list for what feels like an eternity. It’s one of those simple desserts that seems approachable but is really elusive; at least to me. Doughnuts (or donuts) are really flippin’ delicious. My favorite is probably jelly because hello, raspberry filling plus granulated sugar on a puff of fried dough is just perfection. Of course, I’m talking about Dunkin’ Donuts. The words “perfection” and “Dunkin'” don’t really belong in the same sentence (or even alluded to it), but I digress. What makes doughnuts delicious is that it’s fried dough, and therein lies my first roadblock.
I don’t really have a problem with fried food. Some of my favorite foods are fried (ahem, fries) but there’s just something about boiling something in scorching hot oil that turns me off. Essentially, I have a fear of frying. Hot oil is kind of scary. Not only that but if you don’t have the proper equipment and environment, deep frying is a recipe for disaster. As much as I wanted to try frying, I didn’t want to risk it at the expense of our tiny kitchen/apartment. The obvious alternative is to bake them.
I don’t know about you guys but baked doughnuts are somewhat of a copout. Especially those made in donut pans. I still think it’s ridiculous to have a specialty pan for these sort of things, like those whoopie pie pans that now exist for some reason. I can’t justify a donut pan purchase, despite the fact that I really want a pair. Doughnuts made in those contraptions are like a donut shaped cupcake/muffin; it’s just not the same.
That’s why I smiled like an idiot when this recipe graced my inbox a couple weeks ago. I read the recipe and it seemed easy enough to pull off in an afternoon, and had potential to be delicious. I was also happy about the presence of yeast in the ingredients. Doughnuts usually take yeast, so I had a feeling these were gonna be for real.
I’m no stranger to yeasted dough, considering I get down and dirty with a bowl of dough at least once a week. However, I was NOT expecting this dough to be that sticky. I had several mishaps (surprise surprise) while forming the dough into doughnuts. It was ridiculously soft and sticky, and I couldn’t lift the circles off my mat. It was a messy situation, hence why I don’t have any pictures of the process. I ended up adding quite a bit of flour and kneading the dough a bit, until it was slightly less sticky and easier to handle. I punched out my doughnuts using the same method from the Samoa recipe; a biscuit cutter and a milk cap.
They came out looking like real little doughnuts! I even baked the doughnut holes, instead of re-rolling them into more doughnuts. In the end, I got 28 doughnuts and 32 donut holes. I was psyched about my sudden abundance of doughy rings, that I planned several different toppings. For the doughnut holes (and like, three doughnuts), I tossed them while warm in some melted butter and then in cinnamon sugar. The majority of the donuts were dunked in a simple vanilla glaze and then covered in toasted sweetened coconut. The other stragglers were either dunked in the same vanilla glaze or in some melted semisweet chocolate and topped with sprinkles.
On their own, these doughnuts aren’t anything to write home about. The dough is kind of bland and depends on the topping for any actual flavor. Despite this, the hint of cinnamon in the dough leaves you begging for more, and worked well with all of the toppings I used. I think that for next time, I will probably add a bit more flour to the dough, along with about a 1/3 cup of sugar and possibly an extra yolk. I’d also proof them after cutting them out into doughnuts.
Overall, this was a great starter doughnut experience. I loved how the dough let the toppings shine but still brought its own subtle flavor to the mix. While I’m not ready to fry or cave and get those doughnut pans, these little rings, along with some tinkering will do just fine.
Mini Baked Doughnuts – adapted from PureWow
Makes about 2 dozen; depending on the size of your cutter
- ¾ cup milk
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 egg
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Pinch of cinnamon
- 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
In a small pot over medium to low hear, warm the milk, water and butter until slightly warm to the touch (about 95° to 100°). Whisk in the egg.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, or using a large bowl and a wooden spoon, mix the flour with the salt and cinnamon.
Add the yeast and the milk mixture and mix on low speed, or by hand until the dough begins to come together; 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough is smooth (it will be pretty sticky), 5 minutes more. If mixing by hand, this may take an extra 5 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a large bowl lightly greased with nonstick spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until double in size, about 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 350° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a ½-inch-thick rectangle. Using a small round cookie cutter or the rim of a small glass, cut out circles of dough. Use a smaller cookie cutter or glass to cut another hole in the center of each circle. Dip your cutters/glasses into some flour between cuts, to prevent sticking.
Transfer the doughnuts to the prepared baking sheet. Brush lightly with melted butter and bake until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Cinnamon Sugar Topping
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar
- Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl.
- While the doughnuts are still warm, dunk them in melted butter and then toss in the cinnamon sugar. Take care not to do too many at the same time; the butter will moisten the sugar and it’ll get all clumpy and will not want to adhere to the doughnut.
Chocolate Glaze – adapted from allrecipes
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter
- 10 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- Combine the chopped chocolate with the butter in a heatproof bowl. Set over a small pot with some simmering water and melt gently. Stir frequently until melted. Remove from heat and use immediately.
- 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
- 2-6 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Sift the powdered sugar into a medium sized bowl. Whisk in the milk gradually, by the tablespoon, until it reaches your desired consistency. Stir in the vanilla extract, and use immediately.
- Echoing what I said above, I’d add about 1/3 cup of sugar, an egg yolk, and maybe 1/2 cup of flour to the dough next time. I’d also proof the doughnuts a second time after cutting out the shapes.
- The recipe calls for whole milk but I used soy milk just fine.
- For the vanilla glaze, it isn’t necessary to use all the milk; just keep adding until the glaze reaches your desired thickness.
- For the chocolate glaze, try not to get any water into the chocolate; it’ll seize and reach the point of no return.