I’ve been big on doughnuts for as long as I can remember, probably because I was spoiled by really, really good ones during my formative years. The Colonel’s Bakery in Northeast Harbor, Maine, produces the most unbelievable, indescribably delicious doughnuts that I have ever tasted in my life. This gem of a bakery makes everything from light and fluffy glazed twists to cakey old-fashioned cinnamon doughnuts that make me want to invest in some pajama jeans and live in a house made entirely of doughnuts. That’s saying a lot, since you know I’m a big fan of both restrictive clothing and fancy homes.
During my childhood summers, my family got Colonel’s doughnuts every Sunday, which was hands-down the best day of the week. My siblings and I used to spend an absurd amount of time fighting over who got to ride their bike into town to pick up the doughnuts, which was a highly coveted job. (Looking back, the delivery person usually fell off his or her bike on the ride home trying to balance two giant bags of doughnuts on the handlebars, but we all seemed to black out that small fact every week.) My mom put no limit on the amount of doughnuts that we were allowed to consume on Sundays, which was hilarious and terrifying, since we would each take down at least four and then spend several hours rolling around on the floor and complaining about our stomachaches. Doughnut Day was the best.
Outside of Maine, I ate the occasional Dunkin D’s at a school birthday party or a warm Krispy Kreme when they were super trendy, but I always remained a Colonel’s loyalist. And then I went to college…
I’m ashamed to say that my doughnut standards dropped significantly my freshman year (along with most of my other standards), which I often think of as “The Entenmann’s Year.” During the first few weeks of school, I developed a serious obsession with Entenmann’s Glazed Pop’ems, which I ate as snacks, late night, and an unfortunate number of weeknight meals.
I’m fully aware that pop’ems are not particularly good doughnut holes, but for some reason I practically fetishized those little glazed nuggets. I once knocked over a card display and an entire shelf of snack foods at CVS in my haste to get my pop’ems after a particularly festive evening, which was sad. Fortunately, the manager wasn’t even angry that I had wreaked havoc on his store. In fact, he just smiled and helped me find my treats, before wishing me a safe journey to wherever I might be going. There are many things to be said for being an after-hours CVS regular.
As with all good things, the Entenmann’s year eventually came to an end. I began to re-evaluate my pop’ems habit when not one, but three different friends gifted me a box of them for my birthday. Some brought wine with the pop’ems, but still, it was embarrassing. However, it was when I ate them exclusively for an entire week after breaking up with my high school boyfriend that I finally gave up on the holes for good. Lying in the dark for three days while listening to Sia’s “Breathe Me” and consuming 736 doughnut holes is definitely some sort of rock bottom. I haven’t touched a pop’em since. In fact, I pretty much went off all donuts altogether. Too much of a good thing, blah blah.
Although I haven’t eaten more than a couple of donuts in the past few years, I’ve been weirdly craving them lately. I think it’s because I’ve seen a lot of really delicious looking picture of doughnuts during recent social media hours, and seven years later, I may have finally recovered from the great pop’ems binge of ’06. I hadn’t really considered making doughnuts myself because I do not own a deep fryer (and frying things in a pot makes me want to die), but then I happened to stumble upon several awesome looking recipes for baked doughnuts like this one and this one. I was intrigued.
I’ve been mulling over the baked doughnuts idea for a couple of weeks, and yesterday I decided to bite the bullet and do some experimenting. I obviously don’t have a donut pan, and I couldn’t really justify buying one since there’s no way I’m going to be making donuts on the reg, so I decided to make doughnut holes using a handy mini-muffin tin. I felt the need to incorporate apples and cinnamon, two of my all-time favorite cozy fall flavors, which lead to some epic Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnut Holes.
I’m not going to lie, it took me a couple tries to get these babies just right. The first batch was pretty dense, under-sweetened and not quite apple-y enough. I ate most of them anyway because I don’t like waste, but they weren’t my favorite. However, after some tweaks, the second batch came out perfectly. The crunchy cinnamon-sugar coating on these holes gives way to a cakey interior that ‘s spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg has just the right amount of apple flavor. These bad boys put pop’ems to some serious shame.
Needless to say, baked donuts don’t taste the same as fried doughnuts, but I may actually prefer them. They have a cake-like texture that isn’t overly heavy, and they’re surprisingly moist (sorry for using that word). Plus, they’re (slightly) healthier than their deep-fried counterparts, which is great news for when you end up eating a dozen of them.
Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnut Holes are also incredibly simple to whip up, and this recipe makes fourteen holes, which is ideal if you’re cooking for one a small group. It can easily be doubled or tripled if you’re looking to entertain, which I highly suggest because these doughnut holes are a major crowd pleaser. (This fact has been confirmed by multiple taste-testers.) They’re a perfect fall brunch accompaniment, and I imagine people would be psyched to eat them for dessert with some vanilla or cinnamon ice cream. Do it.
Happy fall, friends!
Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnut Holes: (Makes 14 doughnut holes)
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 extra-large egg
½ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted cooled to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large apple (I recommend Granny Smith or Golden Delicious, peeled and grated
For the cinnamon-sugar coating:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup granulated sugar
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preparing your Apple Cinnamon Baked Doughnut Holes:
-Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
-In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
-Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. DO NO OVER-MIX, people. (Over-mixing creates overly dense doughnuts.)
-Allow the doughnut holes to cool for 1-2 minutes before removing them from the tin and place them on a rack to cool for at least 10 minutes.
-When the doughnuts holes are cool, coat each one with butter (you can dip them in the butter or use a pastry brush) and then roll it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Don’t skimp on the cinnamon-sugar, friends. You want a really solid coating. Dig in and bliss out.
*recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 extra-large egg
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted cooled to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large apple (I recommend Granny Smith or Golden Delicious, peeled and grated
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla extract. Set the wet and dry ingredients aside while you do some apple grating.
- Peel your apple and grate it using the large holes on a box grater. (If you don’t have a box grater, relax. Just use a sharp knife to chop your apple very finely.) Use your hands to squeeze as much of the juice from the grated apple as you can, and add the squeezed grated apple to the dry ingredients.
- Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until just combined. DO NO OVER-MIX, people. (Over-mixing creates overly dense doughnuts.)
- Spray the mini muffin tin and evenly distribute the doughnut batter amongst the wells. (You should have enough for about 14 doughnut holes.)
- Bake your doughnut holes for 10-12 minutes until they are lightly browned. Allow the doughnut holes to cool for 1-2 minutes before removing them from the tin and place them on a rack to cool for at least 10 minutes.
- While your doughnut holes are cooling, prepare the topping. In a small pan melt the butter and set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar.
- When the doughnuts holes are cool, coat each one with butter (you can dip them in the butter or use a pastry brush) and then roll it in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Don’t skimp on the cinnamon-sugar, friends. You want a really solid coating. Serve immediately.
These doughnut holes are best served the same day. If you can, wait to coat them in cinnamon-sugar until just before serving to make sure the coating is nice a crisp.
I’m psyched to be a part of Food Network’s Fall Fest this week. For more delicious apple recipes, check out the awesome blogs below.
The Lemon Bowl: Whole Grain Pancakes with Warm Apple Topping
In Jennie’s Kitchen: Homemade Apple Breakfast Bars
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Almost Crusted Cinnamon Apple Grilled Cheese
Dishing With Divya: Fresh Apple Salsa
Virtually Homemade: Potato Apple Gratin
Weelicious: Apple Almond Cake
Dishin & Dishes: Kale Waldorf Salad (A Healthy Recipe Redo)
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Applesauce with Maple and Cinnamon
Red or Green: Apple and Green Chile Crustless Pie
The Sensitive Epicure: Toaster Oven Cinnamon Apple and Walnut Muffins with Almond Flour and Maple Syrup
And Love It Too: Apple Pie Cookies
Taste With The Eyes: The Culinary Legend of Apple Tarte Tatin
The Heritage Cook: Gluten-Free Apple Crisp
FN Dish: Early Morning Apple Recipes