Donuts with my dumpling (on a snow day)

A few months ago, I saw baked doughnuts at Joy the Baker and I literally went out within a few days and bought a donut pan (I realize the proper spelling is "doughnut" but I've always gone the shortcut route so I'll stick with it here for the most part).  There was something about those gorgeous chocolate-glazed donuts. They are the very kind I always went for as a kid (albeit fried, of course) and the same ones my son likewise favors now.  Chocolate-frosted donuts with sprinkles have a special place in my heart. 
My little one presenting the results of our snow day project
I took it as a sign that I really should get a donut pan and make donuts - baked donuts - at home.  I showed my little one and he was certainly enthusiastic about it since he is, not surprisingly, a big donut lover.  I think I may have simply used him as an excuse because I was thinking all along about the many times I walked over to a local donut/coffee shop (a non-franchise one in the neighborhood) as a kid, to order one, two or a half-dozen donuts.  Once in a while, I went for a toasted bagel with cream cheese instead.  
  
It took about 4 months for us to get to this project.  Meanwhile, I was happy to have the little donut pan tucked away in the pantry.  This was essentially my first real baking project of 2014 and I'm thrilled I got to share it with my little dumpling - my rapidly-growing 3rd grader!  We made these last Friday, on a snow day from school.  As my husband shoveled the 8-9 inches of snow outside in the frigid cold, the two of us "toiled" away in the warm kitchen making these beauties.
I learned that baked donuts are easy to make, a great project to do with kids since it's simple, fast, and there's no frying involved.  I love working/playing in the kitchen with my son and I'm so glad he's shown more interest in it lately. To hang on to that interest, I try to keep it simple and interesting because like most 8-year old boys, he has the attention span of well...an 8-year old boy!  I think he does get a kick out of these food experiments and learns a little something along the way too.  I know it makes me feel useful and we all certainly enjoy eating these "projects"!

And in this instance, we get to play with sprinkles so you know it's fun!  The only problem I have with sprinkles is deciding which and what colors to use.  Rainbow is too classic to resist but it's certainly fun to decorate them for different holidays.  I was thinking ahead to Valentine's Day for one of them.
The young donut chef and his parents enjoyed this inaugural batch of homemade baked donuts. They're somewhat spongy and moist, a bit denser than cake, which makes it easier to dip them in the glaze.  We went light on the nutmeg in this recipe - I usually prefer it in moderation and so does the little one.  

The chocolate glaze is very simple and as you might imagine, we had some leftover glaze after dipping our half-dozen donuts.  You know what we did with it?  We used it as a dip so we enjoyed our donuts, fondue-style! Talk about guilty pleasure!  I was channeling how churros, and even beignets, are eaten (at least these donuts are baked).  So yes, it's indulgent but we had so much fun.  And we will all attest to the fact that baked donuts, served with a side of extra chocolate glaze for dunking is a very delicious experience!

We are looking forward to more homemade baked donuts in our future.  Would you believe my son just told me that we should dip the entire donut in chocolate glaze next time?  I don't know where (or who!) he gets these wild ideas from!  ; )


Baked donuts take less than 10 minutes in the oven and not much more time to get the batter together (well, unless you're working with little ones...).  
Whisking dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately
This recipe makes use of browned butter, which I made and set aside right before starting the project with my little one.  I like the notion of using browned butter more (beyond just for financiers).  While I don't know if it added a load of extra flavor and nuttiness here (we only use 2 tablespoons), it sure doesn't hurt.
Measuring out the browned butter
The batter is as simple as combining the wet ingredients into dry, and stirring the two together.
The little guy is hard at work
Then simply fill your greased donut pan, using 2 spoons and smoothing out the top.  I had a little batter left and I think the natural inclination is to use it up, filling the cavity.  You really shouldn't go beyond 3/4 full since the donuts will rise and if you fill it all the way, you might end up without a hole in your donut!
Here they are out of the oven in about 8 minutes.  Avoid over-baking.  They might look undone but check with a cake tester and it's ready when it comes out clean.
They don't take much time to cool (particularly when it's about zero degrees outside and the heat can't seem to catch up to the chill).  After a few minutes, you can flip them out to cool thoroughly and work on the glaze.  As you see below, our donuts are a bit bumpy on top and smooth on the bottom.  I dipped them top side down since it just seems more natural that way given the wider surface area of the tops.
As for the chocolate glaze, I've seen many different recipes but I really like the simplicity of this one. It's made by simply whisking together powdered sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, a pinch of salt, and milk.  Add enough milk to make it a fluid, dipping consistency.
Then time to dip...
(As you can tell, I like a lot of behind-the-scenes reality shots when I'm "documenting" these projects with my son...)
Needless to say, we had a lot of fun with the sprinkles!  
The "little one" is standing on a step stool, by the way...
Don't wait too long to add the sprinkles - or whatever topping you like - because the glaze will slowly begin to set.
What fun it was to create these little treats with my fella!  It was truly a very nice snow day activity for us.



Recipe:

Brown Butter Baked Doughnuts with Chocolate Glaze (aka, "Chocolate-Frosted with Sprinkles")
From Joy the Baker

- For 6 baked doughnuts - 

For Doughnuts:
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I used 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and the flavor is still quite pronounced)
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter (to be browned, and 2 tablespoons used)
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Chocolate Glaze*:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3 to 4 tablespoons (or so) milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sprinkles, or other toppings of your choice, for decorating

Make doughnuts: Lightly spray a 6-cavity doughnut pan with cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position a rack in the upper third of the oven. 

In one bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and sugar.  Set aside.

To brown butter, place it in a small saucepan or skillet over medium-low heat.  Allow it to cook for several minutes, swirling the pan or gently whisking the butter, until it turns amber brown.  Butter will sizzle a bit as it cooks and since it browns pretty quickly, keep a close eye on it to avoid burning.  It will also smell nutty when done.  Remove from the heat and transfer the browned butter to a small heatproof bowl.

In a measuring cup or bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, vanilla extract, and 2 tablespoons of the browned butter.  

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir together until just combined.  Avoid over-mixing.  Fill each doughnut in the pan (I use two spoons) about three-quarter full with batter, smoothing the top. Bake until a cake tester inserted inside comes out clean, about 8-10 minutes.  Check early and avoid over-baking.

Make glaze:  Sift powdered sugar and cocoa powder into a medium bowl (you can also try just whisking the two together if you do not have large lumps).  Start by adding 2 tablespoons milk and the vanilla extract.  Whisk together.  Add more milk, as needed, to make a thick but still fluid/pourable glaze.

Dip fully cooled doughnuts in the glaze, top side down.  Set on a wire rack and add sprinkles or other toppings (don't wait too long to do this since glaze will begin to set).  Let glaze set before serving.  You can store any leftover doughnuts, covered, at room-temperature for about 2 days.

* You will have some leftover glaze after dipping the donuts.  Short of reducing the recipe by, say, one-quarter or discarding it, you could go "crazy" and do as we did: serve a little extra chocolate glaze on the side for "dipping".  You can pretend it's a churro if it makes you feel better.






50 comments:

  1. Oh Monica - I love this post! I love cooking with our kids, decorating cookies, making new things. Good for you! And by the way, they are beautiful! I've made donuts once and had hoped to make more during the holidays - but I guess I'll have to settle for another time. Sounds great :)

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    1. Thank you, Tricia! I bet I'm boring everyone with *another* post about my son but that's a mom's prerogative, right?! ; ) It was a really fun project - not too involved but just enough.

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  2. Aaaw, I love that your lil guy had so much fun making these with you - sounds like such a fantastic snow day :) The donuts look beautiful Monica! Yay to chocolate glazed donuts with pretty sprinkles - they are my favorite ones I used to reach for growing up and now too :) Love the browned butter in here too - these must have tasted incredible! Yum!

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    1. Thanks, Kelly - I know you can relate to everything being about the little guy! haha. I think the chocolate-frosted with sprinkle is pure classic for most of us. Just looking at one at the donut shop makes me smile. When I was pregnant, I craved them all the time but I realized they were going straight to my hips and midsection so I had to start cutting down...

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  3. My 8 year old hasn't shown interest yet, but I'm sure if were making these delicious donuts he might think twice! Am so glad your little one had a blast! It's quite an achievement for them when they see their handiwork and then get to enjoy it!

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    1. My son used to take a "no-thanks", "no-way" stance on cooking...but he started coming around in the last year or so. He would much rather watch a football game or play but he is showing interest and I'm grateful to share the time together in the kitchen. He is definitely really proud of his projects..after all, he did "most of the work" ; )

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  4. This looks like you had so much fun! I love the sprinkles too - I always ordered donuts with sprinkles when I was a kid! And I love that this donut base has brown butter - I bet they are delicious!

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    1. It does make these little donuts more memorable, Ashley. Love the chocolate frosted with sprinkles so much!

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  5. You have two wonderful sous chefs in the house :-)) These donuts look fantastic, Monica.

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  6. Oh goodness, this is perfection. I want to sink my teeth into one of these. Ok, 2, ok 3, ok 4. Yum yum yum!

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    1. One donut does go down way too quickly, I agree...

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  7. Perfect!! I love the doughnuts, the fact they are baked, the brown butter factor, the sensational chocolate glaze, the sprinkles and of course that your son helped you. Such a fun bake all round!

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    1. Haha...thanks so much, Jo! Fun is how I'd describe this one, too!

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  8. *hearts* This looks so delicious! That was my heart chiming back there. I've made baked doughnuts before and I can't help but swoon over them; they taste so delicious. I think I've made this exact recipe too from Joy and I know these are GOOD!!

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    1. haha - thanks for that! Who can resist a donut, especially with sprinkles. : ) Joy's pictures totally inspired me and the little guy.

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  9. Yum! I love homemade doughnuts...especially chocolate-frosted! :)

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  10. Lovely recipe, at least you finally go to using the pan instead of letting it sit a little bit longer.. The glaze is just so lovely..

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    1. haha- yes, I knew I'd eventually get to it. I've seen several recipes for the glaze and this one is the easiest so it was perfect for us. Thanks!

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  11. Aww I love that you and your son baked these together!! I have a donut pan that i got a year ago that I've never used. it's crazy. And I really need to get on it!

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    1. Now I don't feel nearly so bad about not using ours. : ) But it's ok...you know when the time's right.

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  12. Oh mine, it looks so much fun! Donuts, sprinkles and cooks...all look fantastic! :) ela

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    1. Thanks, Ela. It is fun - the sprinkles are the perfect finale.

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  13. These donuts look like they're straight from the bakery! Gorgeous!! I bought a donut pan recently and I love making homemade ones now. :)

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    1. ha - I'll let my donut chef know that, thank you so much!

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  14. These are gorgeous, inspire me to head straight into the kitchen and start baking some. Imagine they'd be fabulous with my morning coffee :)

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    1. Thank you - I was inspired by so many wonderful donuts I saw on other blogs too. It is definitely something different and I like that the pan isn't all that large so it doesn't take up a ton of space.

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  15. Gorgeous donuts and a snow day project well worth documenting!! Don't ever think that blogging about cooking with your son is boring. Its wonderful! Cooking with kids is all about exposure and experimentation. Even if they "help" for a few minutes, then leave, its exposure. Showing kids that playing in the kitchen is fun impacts their future comfort with cooking. I really believe its all the spoon licking and stirring during tv sports commercial breaks that got my son comfortable in the kitchen. :) Once he realized what he could create (like these donuts) there was no stopping him. I am guessing, Monica, that after such a delicious success (and glowing online comments), your son will be eagerly anticipating similar projects! Before you know it you will be the sous chef. :)
    I don't have a donut pan and have often wondered, while drooling over recipes like this, if the batter could be baked in a muffin pan. What do you think? Is the hole essential? A donut muffin with glaze and sprinkles sounds pretty good to me! A side of dipping glaze would make it even better. :)

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    1. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your experience with me, Wendy! I love reading your take and I'm glad it doesn't bore you. : ) Would you believe I read complaints about Deb featuring her son "too much" in her Smitten Kitchen cookbook! I remember being dumbfounded by that.

      I do hope and think you're right. The little one does have a good time in the kitchen and once he starts, he tells me he wants to do "everything". : ) I try to interject some "cooking" here and there so it's no-pressure, like asking him to stir something for me, etc.....and I hope these little moments add up. We're working on things like cracking eggs - it's definitely interesting!

      Regarding the donut pan...if you don't want to buy one, I see nothing wrong with donut muffins. There are many recipes out there that way. And if you think about jelly or boston cream donuts, there's no hole anyway! Also, since most donut batters are on the thick side (I believe...), you could "configure" something - say like making putting a piece of foil in the middle - if you wanted to make a hole that way? I think it could work but you also don't want to drive yourself too crazy and feel like you never want to make it again! : )

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  16. I make baked doughnuts all the time and I can imagine your excitement making it with your little one. I have quite a few baking sessions with my boys and naturally the favourite part are the sprinkles or other decorations. I glaze the doughnuts in ganache but your glaze sounds lovely. I'd love to give it a try. The doughnuts look fabulous too!

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    1. I'm sure your boys have fun with mom in the kitchen. Everything I make with my son feels a little bit extra special. : )

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  17. These look delicious, and are Joy's recipes not fabulous?!

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    1. Thanks, Rachel! Joy's photos and creative ideas are really inspiring!

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  18. so much fun! especially on snowy days...always nice to give kids a project to do with you when it's hard to get outside. i love your baked donuts (and "donut" is so much easier to type than "doughnut") :), and i love that you reminded me that i have my own donut pan scurried away somewhere in this house (evidently it's too small for me to even see, compared to my giant sheet pans), and that i need to get it out and make some donuts on my own. Certainly i have the snow part down, just need to add donuts. :) love this!

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    1. It was the perfect day for this...I knew I had that pan stashed away for just the right moment like that! : ) I hope you find yours and have a good time!

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  19. Hi Monica, This is a terrific post ! The donuts are looking so interesting ! It was wonderful to browse your each and every post. Hope to see more of your creative endeavors ! Wish you and your family a very Happy and Blessed New Year!!!
    Thanks & Regards, Sonia !!!

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    1. Oh, I appreciate that, Sonia! Thanks for stopping by. Happy New Year to you and yours.

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  20. I love love love my donut pan! I haven't used it for a while, and now I'm having a craving. Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Hi Erin! I'm glad I bought mine, too. And 6-donuts from one pan is totally manageable. : )

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  21. What a fun snow day activity! And your son is brilliant! The whole donut should definitely be dipped in the glaze. Why should the top part get all the good stuff?

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    1. ha! Thank you, Christin. I'll have to let the donut chef know; it is sure to get a grin out of him!

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  22. Wow those donuts look amazing and so professional! I guess you won't need to go to a bakery anymore with this rocking recipe! (:

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    1. Thanks, Monica. My son will always want to hit the donut shop, believe me...but it's fun for him to see we can make something similar happen at home. And at home, you get extra glaze. ; )

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  23. I'm so glad you posted this because I got a donut pan for Christmas!!! I had been seeing so many recipes around the blog world that I NEEDED one :) What a fun snow day project with your little one. These look so good, Monica!

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    1. I saw so many recipes for homemade donuts and I also felt like I was missing out on the fun! It's great for me to use with my kiddo but I think you'll like it. It's nice that it makes a manageable six donuts.

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  24. Love seeing the little chef in the kitchen! :) I need to make a use of my donut pans and you just inspired me to make some donuts with my kids!

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    1. Thanks so much, Nami! The little chef would be so happy to hear that!

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  25. I just loved baking as a kid, putting the sprinkles on the top was my favourite bit! Love the sound of the brown butter and the end result looks divine!

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    1. Thanks, Aimee. It's hard to resist adding sprinkles to things when it's an option. : )

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