Doughnut holes without the deep-frying faff

Anything that requires deep-frying intimidates me.  There’s something about the combination of a large pot of burning hot oil and me trying to dunk things into it that just sounds like a recipe for disaster.  I’m accident-prone at the best of times, so there’s no need to set myself up for mishap.  So I keep well away from any recipe requiring deep-frying, including doughnuts.  Which is a shame, because I rather like doughnuts…  Theresa from The Craving Chronicles seems to share my apprehension when it comes to deep-frying, and about a year ago I came across a recipe for baked doughnut holes on her blog.  It sounded like a perfect compromise to me, so I bookmarked the recipe and then never really quite got round to trying it out (I probably got distracted by something shiny).

Then in June, as I was trying to use up as many of my baking supplies as possible before moving out of the flat in St Andrews, I needed a recipe that used tinned pumpkin.  It was finally time to try out the baked spiced pumpkin doughnut holes recipe.  Kat, Craig and I had them for brunch and they were rather deliciously scrumptious.  And no big scary pot of hot oil required – win!  They don’t quite have the same taste as a proper yeast doughnut, but they’re so good that it doesn’t really matter.

When I made them, it didn’t really matter that it was June – the weather in Scotland is pretty autumnal all year round anyway (grumble grumble) – but I decided to wait to share them until it was autumn and pumpkins were in season again, even though the recipe requires tinned pumpkin rather than fresh pumpkin.  When I was in Waitrose yesterday, I noticed that they had massive big huge pumpkins in (they were pretty sizeable), which means that pumpkin season is upon us, and it’s finally time to share these delicious baked spiced pumpkin doughnut holes

Baked spiced pumpkin doughnut holes

Makes 18-20 doughnut holes
Slightly adapted from The Craving Chronicles

I haven’t adapted this recipe very much, but I’ve converted it all to metric rather than American cups so I’m posting it anyway, rather than just linking to the original recipe.  The cinnamon sugar coating is totally optional – the doughnut holes are delicious both with or without it.  If you do decide on the coating though (which I would recommend…), only add it on the day that you’re planning on eating them.  So you could make the doughnut holes the day before, store them in an airtight container overnight and then just dip and coat them just before breakfast.  Not all the butter will get used in the coating, but it’s to ensure that there is enough butter to dip the doughnut holes in.


For the doughnut holes:
220g all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1 egg
75ml sunflower oil
100g brown sugar
185g tinned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
120 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the coating (optional):
75g unsalted butter (this probably won’t all be used)
130g granulated sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon


For the doughnut holes:
1.  Butter 18-20 holes in a muffin/cupcake tin (depends on whether the muffin tin is for normal-sized or huge muffins) or set out silicon muffin moulds.  Pre-heat the oven to 175°C.

2.  Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and salt into a medium-sized bowl and mix together.

3.  Lightly beat the egg in a large bowl, then add the oil, brown sugar, pumpkin, milk and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth.  Gently mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined (like with muffins, don’t over-mix!).

4.  Divide the batter between the muffin holes or moulds (don’t fill them too much – about 2-3 tbsp per hole will be enough, because these are supposed to be doughnut holes not actual muffins!) and bake for 10-12 mins until a toothpick comes out clean.

For the coating:
5.  Whilst the muffins are baking, melt the butter in a small heat-proof bowl over a pan of boiling water.  In a different small bowl or dish, mix together the sugar and cinnamon.  When the doughnut holes are baked, remove from the oven, allow to cool for about 2 mins until you can handle them, then dip each one into the melted butter before rolling in the cinnamon sugar to coat.




Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

15 responses to “Doughnut holes without the deep-frying faff

  1. I remember these, they were lovely. If I remember rightly I also made a lot of mess with the sugar. Standard. Also love your captions.

    • Mel

      Ha ha, probably, but I doubt you made any more mess than I would have. And thanks – what can I say, Queen of Wit, right here. Uhm… ya.

  2. I also made these (from the same recipe)! I even made them whole grain and with olive oil and they were still insanely good. Everyone should make these!

    • Mel

      Oooo wholegrain sounds really healthy! I’ll have to try that. And I agree, everybody should make these – they’re just sooo delicious!

  3. I absolutely love these and the fact that are not fried is even better! Of course, baker beware, they are VERY addictive and I ended up eating way too many, but I don’t see how that would not be possible! I actually just made these this morning and writing this review, I went and grabbed another one! Geesh, I can’t stop! 🙂

  4. Pingback: Recipes Worth Dreaming of: « Vegan Monster

  5. Annie Stitt

    These are FANTASTIC. Loved them, and so did all my friends. Between 4 of us we took down the entire batch in a matter of minutes — oops. Worth all of the time I spent converting this from weight measurements into cups 🙂

    • Mel

      Glad you loved them – my batch definitely didn’t last very long either (once I’d taken photos)!! Oh the joys of converting back and forth between weights and cups – if only we all adopted the same system!! But at least in this case, definitely worth the effort… 🙂

  6. Sarah

    I have just baked some beautiful spiced banana doughnuts based on your recipe… they are LOVELY. I scoured the internet looking for a decent baked ‘puff’ recipe but they either used shortning (which I didn’t have in) or were not in metric and I can’t handle cups! I had some over ripe bananas that needed using up so replaced the pumpkin with them and used wholemeal flour. DELICIOUS – Oh and I also found dipping the puffs in butter quite difficult so in the end just brushed it on with a pastry brush and then dunked them in the sugar. Worked fine. Thank you

  7. Mel

    What an excellent idea to use banana – they sound utterly delicious!! Thanks so much for telling me about it, I shall have to try that out! I’m always looking for ideas on how to use up over-ripe bananas – banana bread is great, but I like to mix things up a little.
    I find cups are a pain to use, so I convert almost everything into metric, but it can be quite time-consuming.
    That’s such a good tip for the melted butter – not sure why I didn’t think of that!

  8. You are me! I am also terrified of deep frying anything and simply won’t do it! Pumpkin is my all time fav vegetable so it is a given that I’l be trying these soon.

    • Mel

      I’m so glad I’m not the only one! These are definitely an excellent alternative to deep-fried doughnuts though. Let me know what you think if you try them.

  9. sandy

    HELP!! I need the recipe using Cups not grams….

  10. Kendra

    Here are the US conversions. Ounces are BY WEIGHT. Cups are by volume:

    8 oz. Flour (1 3/4 cups)
    3.5 oz. Brown Sugar (1/2 cup, packed)
    6.5 oz. Canned Pumpkin (3/4 cup)
    2.5 oz. Oil (1/3 cup)
    4 oz. milk (1/2 cup)

    2.6 oz. Butter (1/3 cup or 6 Tbs or 3/4 cube/stick)
    5 oz. Granulated Sugar (3/4 cup)

    175 Celcius = 350 Fahrenheit

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