Baked, Not Fried… Salted Caramel Donuts

Baked Salted Caramel Donuts

These baked donuts have a tasty vanilla and nutmeg base that will remind you of fried cake donuts.  The icing has an authentic caramel flavor, because it is actual authentic homemade caramel (plus a little powdered sugar).  The garnish of salt creates a great contrast with all the sweetness, but also helps emphasize the beauty of the caramel.

Inside a Baked Salted Caramel Donut

I was inspired to develop this recipe by a recent trip to Atlanta, GA.  My sister (aka Sister Breakfast) brought me a selection of donuts from Revolution Donuts of Decatur, GA.  All the donuts I tried were spectacular, but their Salted Caramel creation was the hands-down winner.  I make and eat a lot of donuts, so I was blown away that I had to check their website to confirm that the donut in my hand was baked and not fried.  It was possibly the best baked donut I’ve ever tried.  So I set out to recreate it and I’ve come very close.

Ingredients For Baked Donuts

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Fast Food Cronut? No Thanks!

Croissant Donuts from Jack In the Box - In Promos

Just as the Cronut fad seems to be fading, Jack In the Box has jumped on the bandwagon to offer their version of the pastry.

The Cronut was originally created by pastry chef Dominique Ansel in 2013 for the Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City.  The name Cronut is trademarked, thus Jack In The Box’s decision to use the innocuous, descriptive name Croissant Donuts.

The Jack In The Box website describes their Croissant Donuts as, “The perfect hybrid of two delicious sweet treats – croissants and donuts; this pastry is a donut made with buttery croissant dough rolled in cinnamon sugar to create a decadent pastry treat.”

Perfect? They are most definitely not.

Croissant Donuts from Jack In the Box - In Reality

The outside of the pastry is chewy and tough.  The inside has a nice, soft texture but the overriding flavor is that of artificial butter.  If you’ve ever had real butter before, you’ll notice something fishy.  Also note that these Croissant Donuts are much smaller than you’d probably assume from ads.  They’re just a little bigger than a golf ball.

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How To Make Donuts In The Microwave

How To Make Donuts In The Microwave

If you’ve been on social media in the last year, you’ve probably encountered enticing, single-serving, microwave recipes for brownies, cakes and other desserts. They usually look amazing and always promise to be fast and easy.  I went to baking school, but I still became temporarily obsessed with the idea of making my favorite desserts in minutes in the microwave.  I tried several of the recipes and they we’re mostly satisfactory, if not stellar.

Throughout this quick-fix phase, I pondered how I could make a satisfying donut in the microwave.  I tweaked and tested recipes until I came up with a microwave cake that tasted similar to a chocolate cake donut.  Coming up with the recipe was the easy part.  Making a donut out of it was another matter.

I played with thicker batters piped in the shape of donuts.  That didn’t work.  The batter fused together in what was supposed to be the hole.  Plus, the cake was too dry from having to add extra flour.  I knew I had to find a way to stick to the recipe I liked, yet still create a donut shape.

Having no luck, I decided to drink my troubles away.  I was pouring bourbon into a shot glass to make a Manhattan.  The answer was in my hand.  I took the shot glass and rested it in a glass cereal bowl.   There it was… a donut mold.

I whipped up another batch of the cake batter, greased my makeshift mold and gave it a try.  It worked!  I realized on subsequent attempts that works best if the shot glass is right-side-up in the bowl with the smallest part of the glass touching the bowl.

Holding A Microwave Donut

In a reality, these donuts are just cakes in funny shapes.  But isn’t that what donuts are?  They need icing to make them really feel like donuts.  Without icing, they look kind of like sad, little, porous Bundt cakes.  But once you add icing, you get the donut experience.  At least, you get the best donut experience you can get in a couple of minutes from your microwave.

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Bailey’s Irish Coffee Donuts

Bailey's Irish Cream Donuts

This donut was a huge success last St. Patrick’s Day.  All year whenever I told friends I was thinking of making donuts, they’d say, “You should make the ones you made for St. Patrick’s Day again.”

This recipe uses my proven, kitchen-tested, yeast-raised donut base (which you can use for a multitude of different donuts).  The topping is a chocolatey, coffee-infused mocha icing and the filling is a vanilla buttercream that’s been transformed into a taste of the Emerald Isle by a shot of Irish coffee liqueur.

Irish Cofee Donuts

There’s an old Irish proverb that says, “Hunger is a tasty topping.”  That may be true, but I think you’ll prefer this mocha icing.

Bailey's Irish Cream Donuts

To Make The Yeast-Raised Donuts:

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Strawberry Valentine’s Day Donuts

Strawberry Valentine's Day Donuts

This year’s featured Valentine’s Day recipe is for heart-shaped, yeast-raised donuts with strawberry buttercream filling and vanilla icing.  The secret ingredient is… as usual… love.  I decorated some with sprinkles and others with a decorative pink icing that I made by simply combining the leftover filling with the leftover icing.

I won’t sugar coat it.  Raised donuts take time.  All together, you’re into it for at least 3 hours, probably 4.  Much of that is just waiting for dough to rise, but you can’t really hurry the process.  Don’t be fooled by TV shows like “Donut Showdown” where gourmet filled donuts are made in under an hour.

If you have the time, these donuts are actually fun to make – especially during the decorating phase.  If you have someone special to make them with, all the better.  For as great as they are to make, they’re 1,000 times more fun to eat.  Let’s get to work…

Strawberry Buttercream Donut

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Christmas Cake Donuts: Reindeer, Snowmen & Wreaths

Christmas Cake Donuts: Reindeer, Snowmen And Wreaths

Yikes! Christmas is coming too soon!  Where did the time go?  Eek!  No time for a flowery introduction.  Gotta make the donuts!  Let’s jump right in.

The decorating techniques shown here can be applied to any donut with a hole… baked, raised or cake.  I went with cake donuts.  Here’s the recipe:

Donuts Ready To Be Decorated

Basic Cake Donuts

  • 2 and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup mashed potato
  • canola oil for frying

This recipe makes about 20 donuts.

Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon together into a medium bowl.

In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the shortening and the sugar.  Mix on slow until the mixture resembles coarse sand.  Add the egg and mix on slow until well combined and uniform in color.

Add the potato, a third of the flour mixture and a third of the milk.  Mix on slow until just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.   Continue adding the flour and milk in intervals.  Stop when just combined. Try not to over-mix.

Transfer to a shallow casserole dish that’s been coated with cooking spray.  Press the batter down to an even layer.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Heat 3 inches of canola oil to 360 degrees in a fryer or a heavy pot.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Sprinkle the top lightly with flour.   Pat the dough down to a ½-inch thickness.  Cut out donuts and donut holes.  Gather dough remnants into a ball and pat down again to make more donuts.

Carefully slide 2 or 3 donuts at a time into the oil.  As soon as the donuts float, flip them over using two chopsticks.  Cook until the underside is lightly browned (about 40 seconds).  Flip and cook the other side to golden brown (about 30 seconds).

Transfer completed donuts to stacked paper towels.

Be sure the oil is at 360 degrees again before frying another batch.

Make sure all donuts have cooled to room temperature before icing.

This recipe explains the homemade donut making process in rather simple terms.  Refer to the end of this article for more detailed instructions.

Snowman Cake Donuts

Snowmen Donuts

For these snowmen donuts, I used a simple vanilla icing.  You can get the recipe for that (and some icing tips) from a post I did a couple weeks ago called Christmas Cake Donuts: Chocolate With Crushed Candy Canes.

The mouth and eyes are chocolate chips and the nose is a Reese’s Pieces candy.

I made snowman faces.  If you wanted to make a full snowman body, just ice 2 donuts with no other decoration and use those to make a body for your snowman face.

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Christmas Cake Donuts: Chocolate With Crushed Candy Canes

Christmas Donut

Happy holidays!  These are homemade chocolate cake donuts with vanilla icing and crushed candy canes.  When you read the name of this recipe, it sounds like I’ve just strung all the best words in the English language together:  Chocolate Christmas Candy Cane Cake Donuts. If you’re looking for something to leave for Santa instead of milk and cookies… try these. You’ll probably get a lot more presents.

I’ll post complete recipes for the donut and icing below, but first… some advice.  Larger candy cane pieces make for great photos, but they’re not so great for eating.  If they’re too large, they have a distracting crunch.  I recommend pulverizing your candy canes until they’re near dust with just a few small chunks.

When I make donuts, I always use two not-so-common ingredients.  If you have it, replace 2 Tablespoons of the all-purpose flour in the donut recipe with soy flour.  It will help deter oil absorption when they’re in the fryer.  I also add a pinch of meringue powder to my donut icing.  That helps the icing firm up faster and results in more of a shell on the surface instead of a frosting texture that never really hardens.

Chocolate Cake Donut With Crushed Candy Cane Icing

For best results when making cake donuts, chill the dough for a couple hours and work in two batches so some of the dough remains in the fridge while you’re working the first batch.  This makes the dough easier to cut and work with.  When the dough is too warm, it becomes sticky and sloppy.

I won’t lie.  Anytime you’re making donuts, it’s an involved process.  By the time you make the dough, chill the dough, cut the donuts, fry the donuts and ice and decorate the donuts, you’re into it for several hours.  Personally, I love it.  I say put on some holiday music and make it a special time with family and friends.  Who knows?  Maybe it will be your new holiday tradition.

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Recreating The Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich

Donut Breakfast Sandwich

Eggs and bacon sandwiched between a sliced glazed donut… crazy or genius?  I can report that it’s insanely easy and it tastes amazing.  Therefore, I’m leaning toward genius.  This recipe is a recreation of the Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich that was recently introduced by Dunkin’ Donuts.  Above, you can see my version.  Below, you can see the Dunkin’ Donuts version as it appeared in their press materials.  Believe it or not, their donut sandwich has only 360 calories.  Mine has a little more bacon.  I hesitate to recommend either version for your weight loss program.

Dunkin' Donuts' Version

The donut breakfast sandwich concept isn’t new. A few smaller donut outlets were doing them well before Dunkin’ Donuts put them in the news.  Buddha Belly Donuts in Sarasota, Florida offered a version with sausage.  Unfortunately, that shop is now closed. The Bleeding Heart Bakery in Chicago offered the Make-Your-Own Doughnut Breakfast Sandwich where you could choose any or all of the following ingredients to accompany the fried egg: bacon, ham, sausage, fried green tomatoes and Cheddar or Swiss cheese.  Strangely enough, that shop also closed recently.   Beware Dunkin’ Donuts!  There seems to be a trend.

Egg And Bacon Donut Sandwich

I decided to try something quite controversial… I recreated Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich using glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme.  Let’s face it, a Dunkin’ Donuts glazed donut is good, but Krispy Kreme is the current non-disputed champion for exceptional glazed donuts.

How To Make A Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich

Step One:  Acquire a glazed donut and carefully slice it with a serrated blade, trying not to dimple the beautiful sugar sheen of the glaze.

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