I've wanted to make some healthier baked donuts ever since I bought some donut pans a couple of years ago. Don't know what took me so long. These are so easy and much healthier than traditional fried or baked donuts. They're not totally guilt free. I'll call them guilt reduced. Since fall is in the air, I decided to combine maple and pumpkin flavors in my first go at baked donuts. (FYI, donut and doughnut are both considered correct spellings.)
I started with my pumpkin bar and granola pumpkin muffin recipes and took some pointers from a baked doughnut recipe printed on my Wilton doughnut pan label. After numerous revisions and retries, as you can see from my not-so-pretty recipe scribblings,...
...the result is a healthier batter that makes moist, tender donuts.
Make muffins, too. The batter can also be used for making muffins. So, if you don't have donut pans, you can make muffins instead. If you decide to splurge on donut pans, you won't regret it. They have a big fun factor, plus the donuts make for better eating. Because of their shape and the way the edges brown all around, every bite is consistently good.
How I healthified. I used 100% whole wheat pastry flour in place of the all-purpose flour called for in most donut recipes. I made batches with both kinds of flour and could hardly tell the difference; so why not go for the healthier version? I also made my batter without butter, and used a small amount of olive oil in place of butter or other oil. Again, couldn't tell the difference. The amount of sugar is reduced considerably, although I added some maple syrup to provide flavor and moisture to the finished product. The pumpkin adds a big nutrition boost--it's a great source of beta carotene/vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber--and also adds moisture that allows for less oil. If you're interested in the healthiest version of these, eat them plain without a glaze. They're good; in fact, King-Man prefers them plain. My recipe includes glaze and sugar coating options if you prefer a sweeter donut/muffin like me.
Gluten free option. It's simple. Swap gluten-free whole grain oat flour for the whole wheat pastry flour. The donuts (or muffins) are every bit as delicious. They're slightly heavier in texture, but only slightly. The flavor is yummy.
Step-by-step photos for making
Baked Maple Pumpkin Donuts (& Muffins)
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients:
For gluten-free donuts or muffins, use whole grain oat flour--make sure you use the gluten-free version. View on Amazon: gluten-free oat flour
Step 2. In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.
Step 3. In another bowl, whisk the eggs; then add then the remaining wet ingredients and brown sugar. Whisk until well combined. (If you don't have a whisk, whip it rapidly with a large spoon.)
Step 4. Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture and whisk just until batter is smooth.
Step 5. Coat the donut pans with cooking spray and fill them with batter. I used this awesome gadget called a Cupcake Pen for filling my donut pans. I was skeptical when I received this as a gift. Was it really necessary? Couldn't I just fill the donut pans with a spoon? Well, yes. But, let me tell you, this cupcake pen makes the task SO much easier and tidier. I didn't have to clean up one spill after filling my pans, and each donut ring was perfectly even. Plus this thing has a removable top and bottom, making it super easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher.
To use the cupcake/donut pen: Put the cap on the top and invert it. (I nested mine upside down inside of a jar to keep it stable while I filled it with batter.) Unscrew the bottom (that is now on the top), and pour in the batter; use a jar funnel, if you have one. Screw on the bottom, and leave the cupcake pen upside down. In fact you want to leave the pen upside down the entire time you're using it to prevent air bubbles from forming in the batter as you dispense it. When you've finished filling the donut pan, put the cap on it so the batter doesn't continue to flow. Between uses, the flattened cap makes it easy to rest the pen upside down on the counter.
If you don't have a cupcake pen, try filling a ziploc bag with the batter, snipping the corner and piping the batter through the hole into the donut forms. Or, use a spoon to add batter to the donut molds.
Rap the filled donut pan on the counter top a few times to remove any air bubbles and level out the batter.
Full Size Donuts. Below, is a regular size donut pan with 6 donuts per pan. I only have one pan, so I baked several batches. Each pan only took 7 minutes to bake, so it didn't take long; although having two pans would have sped things ups. Make sure you recoat the pans with cooking spray between each batch so the baked donuts release easily.
View on Amazon: regular donut pan
Mini Donuts. The cupcake pen worked perfectly in the mini donut molds, too. These are a great bite size for snacking and parties.
View on Amazon: mini donut pan
Big or small, these donuts look like they came from a bakery. So easy! This batter is so tasty that these can be eaten plain just like this. Or, they can be glazed or coated with sugar--more about that below.
Like any donut, these are best eaten fresh. However, mine were still pretty darn good after 3 days of refrigerating them.
Refrigerate or freeze. If you want to store the donuts, cover them once they've cooled and refrigerate them for up to 3 days, or freeze them for up to 1 month. The better they're wrapped, the longer they'll last in the freezer. Only refrigerate or freeze UNFROSTED donuts. It's best to add a glaze or sugar coating right before serving/eating.
Glaze and Sugar Coating Options
Maple Spice Glaze. Whisk together powdered sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and pumpkin pie spice. For a stronger maple flavor, use maple extract in place of the vanilla.
Use a spoon to drizzle and spread the glaze over the tops of the donuts. Add some finely chopped pecans, if you like. These donuts have a soft texture that makes it difficult to dunk the tops of large donuts in the glaze; that's why I recommend spooning it on. However, you can easily dunk the tops of the mini-size donuts.
Oops Alert for glazed donuts! It's best to glaze the donuts right before you eat them. But, if you have some glazed donuts leftover and want to save them for later, don't cover them. Here's what mine looked like the next day. When they were covered, the frosting started absorbing into the donut--still tasted good, but sure didn't look very appealing. Leave them uncovered--even the next day, mine hadn't dried out and were much better than the covered ones.
Sugar & Spice Coating. Combine granulated sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a plastic bag; give it a shake to mix it up. Brush large donuts with melted butter (or dunk the mini size donuts), and toss them in the spiced sugar bag.
Powdered Sugar & Spice Coating. Combine powdered sugar and pumpkin pie spice in a plastic bag; give it a shake to mix it up. No butter required here. Just gently toss the donuts in the spiced powdered sugar bag.
Eat your donuts plain, or try any or all of the glaze and sugar coatings. It's fun to have a variety.
Make mini muffins for a donut hole hack. This same batter makes delicious pumpkin muffins. If you make the mini size muffins, dunk them in melted butter and toss them in the sugar & spice coating; you can call them donut holes. Or muffins. Whatever suits you. But, they'll pass for donut holes if you don't have donut pans.
view on Amazon: mini muffin pans
King-Man took platters to work with all of the donuts and muffins pictured in this post. The mini donuts and these mini muffins, aka donut holes, disappeared the fastest. They're the perfect size for a quick pop-in-your-mouth treat.
Here is a batch of regular size muffins. Exact same donut batter.
view on Amazon: regular muffin pans
Dunk the full-size muffin tops in butter and then in the sugar & spice mixture, or spoon on some maple spice glaze with nuts. YUM!
Every size and every version passed the taste test with my samplers.
Me? I like the maple glazed donuts with nuts, naturally, since they're the sweetest of all.
The flavor and light texture of this recipe has made me a believer in baked donuts. I have another flavor in the works, too. Stay tuned for that.
Make it a Yummy day!