…I’m trying to make donuts!

Last month I wrote about our recent trip to Hersheypark and some of the new treats we enjoyed while there. Since then, the mini donuts we sampled have been on my mind and I wondered if I could come up with a recipe that would be enjoyable, but perhaps a touch more healthy. By now you know that I like to dabble a bit in making some healthier ingredient swaps to see how they will work out.

I didn’t have a lot to go on having not made many donuts before. Actually, let me amend the previous sentence and say I haven’t really made a lot of donuts at home – in my later teen years I worked for a very well know donut shop and during those years I literally made tens of thousands of donuts! That experience left me with knowledge of the donut making process and many ideas for different varieties of donuts, but still not any kind of recipe as the ingredients were all pre-blended in mixes.

As I usually do when trying to come up with a recipe idea, I read dozens of other recipes for cake style donuts in order to get a feel for the ingredients and measurements. On my quest for a slightly healthier option I didn’t want to fry them, so I decided oven baked was the way to go. I also didn’t have a donut pan and honestly didn’t want to buy one. We have purchased so many specialty pans over the years for things we only make once or twice a year at best and I thought that adding even one more would make our cabinets literally burst!

Without a cutter like you would use for a fried donut or the pan that you would normally use for an oven baked donut, what would I do? I did see some clever ideas for making a donut pan out of a muffin pan and foil, but a different idea popped into my head and I decided I really wanted to try it.

What if I hand formed the donuts by using a pastry bag? The dough would need to be a consistency somewhere in between the thick dough used for fried donuts and the thinner more batter like dough used in a donut pan. If it was too thick it would be difficult to squeeze the pastry bag and if I made it too thin, it would end up pouring out too quickly creating donuts that were an unformed mess.

My two swaps for the healthier concept were wheat flour for white and Greek yogurt for butter. Here’s the recipe I put together.

Pastry Bag Mini Donuts

  • 2 cups wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder and nutmeg into a large mixing bowl and mix together with a spoon until well combined.

Add the milk, egg and Greek yogurt to the dry ingredients and mix together well until a soft dough forms. Put the dough in a large pastry bag and use a plain tip with an opening about 1/4 inch in size. I keep disposable pastry bags on hand – for a disposable bag, no extra tip is needed for this recipe. Simply cut the tip off of the bag to get the 1/4 inch opening you need.

Pipe the dough onto a greased baking sheet in donut shaped circles approximately 1 inch in size – I ended up with 25 mini donuts when I was done.

Mini donuts formed with a pastry bag and ready for the oven

Bake the donuts in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Let them cool for about 5 minutes and then lightly brush each one with a little melted butter – it took less than a tablespoon of butter to do this.

While the donuts are cooling, add cinnamon and sugar to a paper bag – 3 tablespoons of sugar to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon was a good ratio for me, but you can always increase or decrease the cinnamon to your taste. Add the donuts to the paper bag and shake gently to coat them with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Mini donuts finished with a coating of cinnamon and sugar

Karen always says we like to keep it real around here and that is true. For a couple of food bloggers, that means writing about not only our successes, but also our failures and even our moments of mediocrity. Not every recipe we try or create will be an instant success and to say that they are would be the absolute opposite of keeping it real!

So in that spirit, where did this recipe land on the keeping it real scale? I am happy to say that it had definite elements of success along with elements of mediocrity – or perhaps just slightly above. I was happy with how the method worked out – piping the donuts out from a pastry bag worked out pretty well and produced some nicely shaped donuts.

I was also happy with the flavor – nutmeg is often used in cake donuts and the flavor was pleasant. Add to that a coating of cinnamon and sugar and things get even better! While my initial goal was to make a slightly healthier option, some things do need to be changed on the fly to make a recipe work. I realized right away after they were done baking that the cinnamon and sugar wouldn’t stick to donuts that were not fried because the surface would be too dry, so I had to add the part where you brush them lightly with butter.

Where the final product was only average for me was the texture of the donuts. They weren’t as light as I would have liked them to be. The good news is, they weren’t little rocks either and the slightly heavier texture did not prevent us from enjoying a nice snack of fresh warm donuts!

I usually categorize the recipes I make into one of three groups:

  1. It’s a keeper!
  2. There’s definite potential here – tweak the recipe and try again!
  3. Throw it away and never speak of it again!

This recipe fits nicely into group #2. I will move it to the back burner for now while I consider possible changes to help improve the texture. Will it make the leap to group #1, stay in group #2 for another round or will it ultimately find an eternal home in group #3? Stay tuned for a future entry that will reveal the answer!

2 thoughts on “Please Donut Disturb…

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