grain-free doughnuts

I love the community that gathers around food, whether it’s our family of three at the dinner table every evening, or a picnic with friends in a park crowded with sunshine and other people, or an elegant meal in a hushed restaurant. Mostly, though, I love the stories that come from food.

Last week, in Santa Fe, I heard about the crisp matzoh balls made by an African-American cook in segregated Baltimore in the 1950s. She knew how to cook but that kitchen seethed with bitterness. I heard about a conversion to Jesus over an expensive dinner and a great bottle of wine in Las Vegas. I listened to the survivor story of a young woman who lost everything she knew and learned her strength in the forest, foraging for mushrooms and cattail hearts. I learned about fried walleye in the Midwest. I laughed to hear about the first date of two friends, which included fat-free ice cream. (And she still fell in love with him.) I learned about the molasses pucker of shoofly pie in Mennonite culture.

Some incredible writers shared their stories generously, the stories that formed around meals and hunger, unexpected tastes and something as great as cherry pie. The Cook n Scribble writing retreat, organized by Molly O’Neill, returned something to me that had been missing for awhile. I found my wild mind of writing again. What had been careful and constantly intended for print came back to me with the unbounded energy of a small child jumping off the porch into green grass. I’m writing again. Not here — although that’s happening right now — but on my own, in 10-minute bursts, every morning. Letting go of the need to make the words perfect, I’m following the rhythm of it again and seeing what comes out.

What does this have to with the doughnuts up there? This is what came out when I looked at the photo.

But I think I know why. I’m inspired by the people who give of themselves, simply, when you meet them. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A cup of tea and connected conversation. A tour of a farm, the farmer speaking plainly about why she loves it there. Friends across the table at dinner, shouting slightly to be heard above the noise of the restaurant. Last-minute whispers in bed before the day disappears.

If you haven’t started reading the Roost blog, may I suggest you do? It’s singular, a strong quiet voice in a world of yelling. The photographs are gorgeous and evocative. It looks like no one else’s blog, a dish of lentil cakes with pesto, wilted greens, and lemon-thyme fries. Coco loves food. She also healed her husband by feeding him meals on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is more restrictive than  simply gluten-free. Clearly, they are both thriving.

It’s about thriving, about being alive, about listening to the mind that says: “go here. meet these people. there’s something for you.”

Also, there are doughnuts.

GINGER-CITRUS GRAIN-FREE DOUGHNUTS, adapted from Coco at Roost

These are the lightest, fluffiest doughnuts I have ever eaten. They’re best eaten within a few hours after baking them but when isn’t that true of doughnuts? These? They’re a revelation. 

I have to admit that I’ve never really been wowed by an all almond-flour treat before. I applaud them for all the people who can’t eat other grains. However, the ones I have sampled and made have usually come out dense, a little dull. These? These have changed my mind. 

It’s the technique that’s important, as well as the proportions. By combining the dry ingredients, then mixing them in the blender until the batter is super smooth and cohesive, the final doughnuts come out wonderfully light. It reminds me of what I have been learning all about all gluten-free baking lately. Sometimes you have to veer sideways into an unfamiliar technique to find your way home to a familiar treat. 

150 grams (about 1 1/4 cup) finely ground almond flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel (substitution: zest of 1/2 lemon)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons honey (the darker the better here)
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water (optional)

Preparing to bake. Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease a doughnut pan with a neutral-tasting oil.

Combining the dry ingredients. Whisk together the almond flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and lemon peel in a large bowl. When they are well-combined, put them into a blender.

Making the batter. Pour the coconut oil, eggs, honey, and orange flower water into the blender. Blend on high speed until the batter is cohesive and smooth, with no sign of flour.

Pour the batter into the doughnut pan, dividing evenly between the six doughnut holes.

Baking the doughnuts. Bake until the doughnuts are firm to the touch, with just a bit of give, about 12 minutes. If you bake the doughnuts too long, they will be dry, so err on the side of ever-so-slight underbaking.

Allow the doughnuts to cool in the pan for 15 minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack.

Frost or glaze as you wish.

Makes 6 doughnuts.

To top these doughnuts, we combined a couple of tablespoons each of honey and Lyle’s Golden syrup with a smidge of butter. We heated them up on the stove until they were a thin liquid. We brushed this on tops of the doughnuts then sprinkled on some powdered sugar. 

[print_link]

44 comments on “grain-free doughnuts

  1. sarah

    We’ve recently gone grain free and these are going to be a much welcomed treat!
    I am in love with the Roost blog already and I’ve only just scrolled through one page! I’m for sure going to snuggle up with lunch and dive in to that one! Thank you.

  2. Kiki

    Just yesterday I was wishing for a doughnut, but I am grain free. I don’t want an almond flour cake made to look like a doughnut. I’m SO excited to try this and check out Coco’s blog. I’m also excited to hear that you are writing. You really know how to touch others with your words. It’s a gift!

  3. LauraSue

    More of this, please. I am one of many who are learning that gluten isn’t the problem. GRAIN is the problem. I can’t continue to eat the standard American diet by just subbing GF grains for wheat. Grains are a bad idea in the history of the human diet and it’s better all around to learn to live without them entirely.

  4. Jana Dieter

    Congratulations on winning the free-of-gluten Foggy Award for Best Personality!

  5. Nita

    Food does tell stories, doesn’t it? And I love YOUR stories about food, Shauna.

    These doughnuts looks so great I want to reach into the computer for one. But my husband is allergic to nuts. What flour combination would you suggest that would work well? Guess I can always experiment.

  6. Kelsey

    They look delicious!

    I wonder if you (or anyone else) would have any suggestions for how to eat gluten-free in college? I don’t have the means to cook while I’m at school, and I’ve discovered this past year just how difficult it is to follow my gluten-free lifestyle while eating in a college cafeteria. (I’ve lost quite a bit of weight this year, haha).

    Any advice?

    Thank you!

    1. Heather

      Kelsey, My first suggestion would be to buy fresh produce at a good grocery store…Fruits and veggies don’t have to be boring! ;) And overall, they’re pretty easy on a small budget. Almonds or other nuts/seeds make a good snack during the day (I tend to have a morning and afternoon snack daily). Rotisserie chicken is also a good protein source (that’s already cooked!), and good addition to salads, etc…Since you’re not able to cook, that makes things a little bit difficult…I remember lugging all of my baking dishes to the dorm kitchen every time I wanted to cook, but I wasn’t as dedicated as you at the time to eat well and take care of my body! It’s good that you want to do that now, I applaud you! There are so many good websites out there for quick and easy GF food; at my blog (www.discoveringtheextraordinary.blogspot.com), I have a list of links to some of my favorite websites (including this one), and you’re welcome to peruse it for more ideas. Good luck with your search! Keep up the good work; you (and your body) will be glad you did :)

    2. Lenae

      Talk to the chef or to whomever is in charge of the kitchen. I had a hard time in college, too, until I talked with the people in charge. They were very accommodating. Each week I would sign up for the days I wanted them to make a gluten-free meal. They would even keep Amy’s frozen dinners in the freezer just in case I forgot to sign up for a gluten free meal.
      If they aren’t willing to help you that much, see if you can go through ingredients with someone to find out what will be gluten-free and what will not.

    3. Kathleen

      Do not underestimate the greatness and versitility of vermicelli rice noodles. They will ‘cook’ in boiling water (though its quicker if you can microwave them for a bit), and make a decent salad with chopped veges and a tin of flavoured tuna or an asian inspired vinigrette and tinned prawns. If you have ready access to a microwave you can cook a potato, and serve with beans, hommus, spinach, salsa, sour cream, avo, corn, cheese and bacon, because bacon will crisp really nicely in the microwave (though you gotta watch it). All those potato fillings are also delish in taco shells. You can cook GF pasta (though stick to penne or spirals) in the microwave and serve with all manner of shelf stable sauces. If pre-made isn’t your thing tinned crushed tomatoes, spinach and herbs makes a decent sauce when heated together in the microwave. Heck, you could add bacon!

      Meat is really the only part that is really tricky, so embrace beans and tinned fish for your protein sources. Another poster has mentioned rotisserie chicken, but in Australia (where I live) obtaining that GF is near impossible.

      Good luck!

  7. Lori @ Think Global, Art Local

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying writing again…inspiration is a magical gift which is too often taken for granted.

    I’ll be sure to make these in the fall when all my trips to the orchard have me craving cider donuts…thank you!

  8. Sini

    Coco is wonderful. And these donuts? Have to make them! I did go mad when I saw this recipe on her blog earlier this week.

      1. Patricia

        I found your blog today and I am memorized! I am grain free also, and have been looking for more resources! Thanks Shauna and Coco!

  9. Stephanie

    I’m definitely trying these. It’s a perfect excuse to try out the new donut pan and the almond flour I don’t use often enough. Thank you for always being an inspiration.

    1. shauna

      Thank you, Coco. These doughnuts are delicate and lovely. And I’m glad more people will be finding your blog now.

  10. Laura

    Thanks Shauna! I think my kids will love these!

    Great post too; I loved all you had to say, and the way it just seemed to roll off your keyboard– uncensored thoughts, honesty.

    Elanaspantry.com is a good resource for those who want to bake exclusively with nut flours. Some great baked good recipes there!

  11. Jas (gluten free scallywag)

    Oh shauna I’m so glad to hear your writin everyday as I do so enjoy hearing your voice through your blog! You’re right about sharing stories about or over food, there’s just something special about it as everyone has an experience like it.

    I love coco’s blog and that she’s invested in a new way of living then shown to the world just how delicious it can be. I don’t have a donut pan but I’ll be buying one shortly to make these, tossed in cinnamon sugar. I can’t wait!

  12. SMITH BITES

    this makes me so, so happy Shauna — love hearing your voice — it’s as if you’re standing in front of me or sitting beside me and we’re simply having conversation — it’s lovely. we love Coco’s blog and have been fans for about a year; every single recipe we’ve tried has been stellar — one of our favorites is the flatbread w/arugula pesto — cannot get enough of it! we’ve made these doughnuts as well … and now that you’ve upped the ante w/the glaze, we’ll be making them again for tomorrow’s breakfast (((hugs))) to you, Danny and Miss Lu

  13. Holly

    I’ve recently discovered Coco’s blog and have made her Herb Roasted Chicken with Cauliflower Mash and Lemon-Caper Gremolata and have tried a few of her baked goods with almond flour. Everything is so delicious. I will have to try your adaptation of her doughnut recipe. It’s wonderful to hear that your retreat has restored the writer in you. I am looking forward to reading what you have to say.

  14. Danielle (against all grain)

    I love that you’re writing again. GFG and Roost are my two favorite blogs to get lost in and not only enjoy the amazing recipes but the incredible use of storytelling. I haven’t stopped thinking about these donuts since Coco posted them the other day. I’m on SCD too and adore her blog. Thank you for sharing!!

  15. Davina Lilley

    These look wonderful and thank you so much for introducing us to Roost– such a beautiful bog. It looks like Roost may be another favorite in our home! Quick question. I have been craving a good gluten-free donut and was excited to see these on your blog, however, I am allergic to almonds. Could you recommend a gluten/corn– free replacement? Thanks!

  16. Robin

    I made these last night–I had all of the ingredients except for the orange flower water. I also don’t have a doughnut pan, so I made them in my mini-doughnut maker. I put 1 TB of batter in each well, popped ‘em out when the light went on (about 3 minutes), then tossed them in powdered sugar. The recipe made 15 mini-doughnuts.. They. Were. Awesome. My gluten-eating husband and son loved them as much as I did! Thank you so much for the recipe, Shauna!

  17. Catherine

    I’m going to try these tomorrow. I have made lots of almond flour treats before and love them, but they tend not to digest well :( I think the technique you have about blending might help. Thanks!

  18. Gina

    I made these tonight and they are UNFRIGGIN’BELIEVABLE! Soooo good! Thank you! My Mom especially bought me a donut pan for my birthday next week after I sent her this recipe. I substituted almond extract for the orange flower water, which went together brilliantly with the almond flour. Frosted them with melted dark chocolate slightly thinned with almond milk. My only question is storage. Do you think I should store them in the fridge or on the counter?

    Here’s how they turned out!
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2910922106284&set=a.1186011504597.23794.1657564500&type=1&theater&notif_t=like

  19. Sarah

    omg, a shauna-approved grain free treat, i can’t wait. thanks so much for this!!

  20. Melissa

    Ok, the last thing I need to do is buy another specialty pan.….lol.…
    Has anyone tried making these in an ebelskiver pan (it’s cast iron and makes little donut hole type goodies) I have one of those I could use!

  21. Linnaea

    Thanks for posting this recipe…I’ve been looking for a doughnut recipe to try lately! I completely agree that The Roost is a calm, simple, beautiful blog.

  22. Rebecca

    Ha! I just jumped on your blog to write you an email asking if you had ever seen the site Roost and then I figured I better do a search first to see if you had maybe mentioned it in a previous post and it turns out you wrote about it less than a month ago. Isn’t it a gorgeous site!? Such beautiful, happy food. I was just introduced to it this week and I’m so happy it exists.

  23. Natalie

    I’m looking forward to making these, thanks for the recipe Shauna! I’m just wondering, do you think these would be ok to freeze? I’m doing some baking for my wedding, some gluten-free foods required (for myself & some guests) & am wondering if I could make these ahead of time?

    1. shauna

      I haven’t frozen them, but I don’t see why they wouldn’t work. Freeze a batch and let me know!

  24. Shona

    Hi i think your donuts sound great.i will make them soon.I love your writing and recipes and bought your book,very good.Thankyou so much for the help and everything .

  25. Leanne

    These are yum! We cooked the batter in our babycakes donut maker for 2–3 min. We ended up with about 3 doz. mini donuts. The result? Very tender donuts that have a great texture and don’t fall apart. We topped them with a lemon glaze. Delicious! We were thrilled.

  26. Nickole@savvyteasandherbs.com

    I cannot WAIT to make these for Christmas morning. My kids are simply going to flip that they will “get” to eat donuts. Now to buy a couple donut tins without them noticing! :)
    I really love your blog. We are pretty much grain free, since the starch flours, etc, still cause the blood sugar spike we want to avoid, so I would love more grain-free recipes on your blog!

    Nickole