Little did I know that living a dairy-free existence whilst baking would be an incredible challenge. Gone are butter, buttermilk, milk, yoghurt and sour cream — binding and moisture agents — and I’m left to figure out how to bake donuts, cakes and cookies that would make one swoon. Granted, I do plan to indulge in dairy, sparingly, but I’m trying to find new and inventive ways to re-engineer the recipes I know and adore. And thankfully my local market is filled with coconut oils, almond butters and milk and a vast array of vegan “butters” (e.g. soy, almond, coconut, vegetable).
But before we talk about the donuts, I’m going to rewind to last night and how I bit into a gluten-free, dairy-free blueberry coconut scone and I promptly spit the wretched mess into the bin. I went a little mad with the quinoa flour and coconut oil, and so I decided to go slow with recipe transformations, and I started with donuts.
Although I did play it a little safe with the white flour (wasted scone dough will do that to you), I did toss in some coconut flour and used a mix of coconut and almond milk, along with vegan butter as moisture/binding agents.
I was frightened to see the donuts on the other side, but I’m OVERJOYED TO SHARE THAT THEY ARE UTTERLY DELICIOUS. Cake-like in consistency, the donuts are yielding, tender, with just a hit of coconut. And since I never know how truly wonderful something is, I asked Chris White, who was so kind to come over, hubby in tow, to help me decorate my abode, to give them a try.
She hoovered TWO of them.
The only difference I noticed is adherence. I had to jettison fried dough into a bowl of sugar real quick. Any longer, and the topping would have a tough time binding.
So if you’re interested in cutting down on the dairy and want to indulge in a sweet treat, feast on these donuts. They’re ADDICTIVE.
Next step? Chucking the white flour.
For the Doughnuts
3 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 cup organic cane sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
2 large eggs
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup Earth Balance dairy-free butter
Grapeseed oil for frying
For the Cinnamon Sugar
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tbsp cinnamon
Line one baking sheet with parchment paper and another baking sheet with two layers of paper towels.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, coconut and almond milks until combined. Add the melted, cooled butter and whisk again.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour the liquid ingredients into the well. With a rubber spatula, slowly fold the flour into the liquid center until the mixture forms a sticky dough.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface lightly dusted with flour. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and pat it out until it is about 1/2 inch thick.
Use two round cutters (3 1/4″ and 1 1/2″ for large doughnuts; 2 1/2″ and 1″ for smaller doughnuts). Dip the large cutter in flour and press out the rounds. Dip the smaller cutter in the flour and cut out the center of each dough round. Arrange both doughnuts and doughnut holes on the parchment-lined baking sheet, pat the dough scraps back together, and use them to make as many more doughnuts and doughnut holes as possible. Chill the dough while you heat the oil.
Pour enough oil into a deep skillet to make a layer approximately 1 inch to 1 1/2 inches deep. Slowly heat the oil over medium-high heat until it is 365 to 370 degrees F. If you don’t have a thermometer, it takes approximately 5-7 minutes. I tested the heat with a doughnut hole. If the oil sizzles around the dough and the dough bobs in the oil, you’re golden.
While you are waiting for the oil to reach temperature, make the cinnamon sugar topping.
Cinnamon Sugar: In a medium wide-mouthed bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.
Fry the Doughnuts: Once the oil reaches temperature, gently lift the large doughnuts off the baking sheet and place them in the hot oil. Do not crowd the skillet-make no more than 3 doughnuts at a time. Once they have browned on one side (this takes 2-3 minutes), turn them over with tongs or a slotted spoon (don’t overbrown) and continue to cook for another minute or just until browned (they can overcook or burn rather quickly). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel lined baking sheet and continue to fry the rest of the dough until finished. The doughnut holes will cook faster and can be made in two or three batches after the doughnuts are done.
Assemble the Doughnuts: Once you have finished frying, work quickly to dip the doughnuts in the cinnamon sugar.
Baker’s Notes: When you fry doughnuts make sure you maintain the correct oil temperature throughout the process. Generally speaking, doughnuts taste best served immediately after they’ve emerged from the fryer ( and taken a quick dip in sugar or chocolate or vanilla. However if they don’t disappear quickly when served take day old doughnuts and chop them into big coarse crumbs, toast them lightly, and add them to vanilla ice cream as a mix in (if you are making it from scratch) or a topping (if you are serving store bought). Doughnuts also work wonders (very rich wonders) when used as the base of a bread pudding.