Ok, this post has been weeks in the making. Literally. I haven’t been sitting idly on my fanny though — no, no. I’ve been baking about seven (huge) batches of donuts. My personal test kitchen has been a disaster every single day — baking pie pumpkins, testing and re-testing, “forcing” samples on friends and strangers… I think I’ve got it now. I really hope that if you try it, you find it well worth the wait. My photos, as I mentioned, are still disappointing, but for the record donuts, with all their shimmery sweetness, are a downright challenge to capture! (That, at the very least, shall be my excuse…) Just don’t judge this book by its cover; I should illustrate how tasty my testers found this recipe — my husband was told by four different people that he is very lucky to be married to me, just because of these donuts/doughballs. (Trust me, you take away this recipe and I’m probably not worth the headache. Ha! : ) They’re pretty dang good.
Anyway. So, here’s the best part about this recipe: it can be three different types of treat, depending on how you choose to employ the dough/batter. Donuts, donut holes, or doughballs. The only tangible difference between the donut holes and doughballs is that I consider a “proper” (really, Katie?) donut hole to be glazed, whereas a doughball has something like chocolate chips in it. But really, define this for yourself; just enjoy it, whatever you do.
I really wanted to create a recipe that was versatile enough that if you don’t own a mini donut pan (I finally found one at Goodwill for $1 after years of pining) you can still make something outrageously, ridiculously delicious. And I mean that. If you choose to go the mini-donut route, there’s a good chance you’ll be surprised that something gluten-free, grain-free, and vegan can taste and feel like a traditional donut. (Or — dare I say? — better!) I was shocked, to be honest. But really, it’s the shape that’s fun — otherwise, everything will taste the same if you choose to make donut holes instead. I think the icing is what really put it over the top as a bona fide donut product. I don’t usually consume sugarcane products, but this was such a minute amount, I decided to at least see if it made a big difference for the donut experience… WHOA. Yes, yes it does. You will think these are fresh from a bakery.
If you prefer not to have a glaze, throw a handful of dark chocolate chips in the batter. Taste a little of the dough [vegan so salmonella-free!], you know — just to be sure it tastes alright. And then rejoice. Dance. Sing. Call a friend. Pat yourself on the back. Whatever. Just celebrate that deliciousness. Savor it.
This is literally the best donut (and doughball) of my life.
And I used to have one every single Sunday growing up, so these had some serious nostalgia to live up to.
Best Ever Pumpkin Dough for Mini-Donuts, Donutholes, and Doughballs
This might appear more intimidating than it is. Granted, it takes slightly more time than most of my baking recipes, but it is well worth the extra couple of steps, which are a cinch! This batter, whichever way you choose to bake it — mini-donuts, donut holes, or doughballs –, will amaze you. Everything about it is resonant with autumnal comforts — moist, sweet and aromatic, just enough pumpkin and cinnamon to awaken your senses, and a true melt-in-your-mouth finish. Bundle up and savor the taste of fall while you can; all you need is a cup of coffee and someone to share this special treat with. I have never been so proud of, or pleased with, a recipe!
If you choose to forgo the icing/glaze, adding some dark chocolate chips will enhance all the flavors. I used mini-chips, to go with my “petite treat” theme. ; )
2 1/2 C blanched almond flour (click here to make your own)
2 TB arrowroot powder
1 1/2 TB cinnamon
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C cooked pumpkin puree (how to make your own — so easy, way more tasty, and cheaper!)
1/2 C agave (or honey) + 2 TB maple syrup
1 TB coconut oil
1 TB vanilla
1/4 C dark chocolate chips (if desired)
1) Mix dry ingredients.
2) Mix wet ingredients, and add them to the dry.
3) If chocolate chips are desired, add them now.
(–> Please note that I have not tried this with a full-size donut pan, so I’m not sure if that will work!)
Directions For Mini-Donuts:
1) Grease donut pan (I used coconut oil). Dust with almond flour.
2) Fill a plastic/ziploc bag with the batter, and cut off one of the tips. Pipe through into the donut impressions.
3) Bake at 325* until lightly browned on edges — you will be able to see the edges pulling away slightly from the pan. Keep a close eye on them! (If it looks like the bottom half of the donut [around the impression part of the donut pan] is browning too fast, move to the top rack and watch carefully). If after 20 minutes they are still rather doughy, bump the heat up to 350* and watch closely until done.
–> N.B. They will still be a little moist. Leaving them out overnight, lightly covered but with air flow, will dry them out a touch, if you prefer. This is unavoidable because the concentration of water in every pumpkin varies.
4) After removing, allow to cool for at least 15 minutes.
5) I removed the individual donuts by turning the pan over, and evenly hitting the pan on the table. They should pop out intact. If they are too warm, they’ll fall apart, so the cooler, the better. (You can also try to wedge them out with a butter knife, but I didn’t have a lot of luck with that method.)
See below for icing.
Directions For Donut Holes and Doughballs:
1) Roll dough into small, 1″ balls. Try to make them higher, rather than wider, as they flatten a bit from the heat in the oven. You can wet your hands a little if you like.
2) Place each doughball on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 325* until lightly browned on edges. (It took mine a little over 15 minutes, but watch carefully, and adjust for longer cooking if needed.)
3) Remove and allow to cool on the sheet for at least 15 minutes.
See below for icing.
Vanilla Glaze/Icing Ingredients:
1/2 C powdered sugar (I used a grain-free, organic brand with tapioca starch, because the cheap brand was sub-par — you could taste the cornstarch. Blech.)
1 TB unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
Chocolate Glaze/Icing Ingredients:
1/2 C powdered sugar (
2 TB cocoa powder
2 TB unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla)
1) Add almond milk to powdered sugar (and cocoa powder if desired), whisking vigorously with a fork until lumps are gone.
2) If desired, add vanilla.
3) Dip the tops of donuts, donut holes, or doughballs into the glaze. Allow glaze to dry for at least half an hour.
Notes on Icing/Glaze: I used a grain-free, organic brand (365 Organic) of powdered sugar, made with tapioca starch, because the cheap brand was awful. You could taste the added cornstarch. I highly recommend spending a tiny bit extra for the sake of quality! Seriously. I promise it’s worth it.
Also, N.B.: resist the urge to add more milk; you want the glaze to be as thick as possible, because if it is too wet, it won’t dry, it will just soak your donuts and they will be mushy.
I am honestly in awe that this recipe turned out. I started with no idea what I was doing, and ended up with something I’m really excited about. I had been thinking an almond flour pumpkin donut was needed in the world, but could never find a recipe for one. While I am still unsatisfied with my photos (the main reason for the delay of this post), I think the recipe makes up for any aesthetic disappointment. Try it, and let me know if you agree! These are a perfect holiday sweet, without being unhealthy (in moderation, of course); I already plan to make them for my family over Thanksgiving.
Also, bake these while listening to 40s and 50s tunes — somehow, it will make everything in life seem alright again.
Are there any seasonal treats you are eager to create or make again?