These are doughnuts.
Yeasted doughnuts with a honey glaze, to be exact. They are light with a little heft, sweet but not too sweet, and have the feel and smell and taste of doughnuts.
That’s because they are doughnuts.
The fact that they are gluten-free doughnuts doesn’t matter one bit.
You don’t need gluten to make doughnuts.
I haven’t eaten a doughnut in almost a year. Last year, we made cinnamon sugar doughnut holes, to celebrate the publication of our friend Lara’s Doughnuts book . I loved eating them again, after all those years without that sweet, soft taste. But after making those doughnuts holes, and enjoying them thoroughly, I found I didn’t need them again.
Lately, I’ve had less and interest in sweet things, especially if they are fried. It’s not that I’m trying to be high and mighty. I just listen to my body. Give me raw kale salad or a whole-grain muffin any day. That’s right. I have turned into one of those people. I still like sweet things, sometimes, but it’s strange how much my sweet tooth has diminished since I had to cut out gluten six years ago. The need for sweetness used to rage in me. Now, it’s a quiet whisper.
I know how to listen to it now, instead of being pummeled by it.
Even the baked goods we create for this site have less hold on me than they would have in the past. When we make cookies or cakes, I enjoy the piece I eat. I love the feeling of completion, of a job well done, of the challenge met. And then I try to slow down and taste that joy in butter and sugar form. After that is done, and Danny and Lu have eaten too, I give away the rest to friends.
So I haven’t been craving doughnuts.
However, this month’s Gluten-Free Ratio Rally is doughnuts and fritters. I could have opted out of the sweets and made vegetable fritters instead. But it just didn’t feel right.
And besides, Lucy wanted us to make doughnuts.
(For all the gluten-free takes on doughnuts and fritters, check out the lovely Gluten-Free Boulangerie.)
Here’s the funny part about the ratio rally this month. No one could seem to find a solid ratio for doughnuts.
For fritters? Yes. That’s 2 parts flour to 2 parts liquid to 1 part egg. Easy.
But doughnuts? There are so many different ways to make them that there is no one way.
(That’s good. I like to remind myself of that.)
So this time, I worked backwards. I looked at a dozen recipes for yeasted doughnuts, because I love their distinctive taste. I wanted cake doughnuts. I wanted to glaze them. So I read.
Based on the reading and my instincts, I went with an Alton Brown recipe for yeast doughnuts. He’s all geeky chemistry guy combined with baking fiend. I like his style.
And I just converted and tried to figure out the recipe from there.
6 parts flour: 3 parts liquid: 1 part egg: .5 parts fat.
It worked for me.
And that means, if you are working in ounces, that 12 ounces of flour, 6 ounces of liquid, 1 large egg, and 2.5 ounces of fat will make you some doughnuts.
This means you can use whatever combination of flours you like, whatever liquid you can drink, an egg (or its counterpart in weight in applesauce or flax), and butter/coconut oil/shortening to make your own doughnuts.
Play with it. We did.
These doughnuts mixed up easily but a little wet. I was tempted to throw in more flour, but that has never led me anywhere good. Instead, I let it rise in its own way. The final dough was more coherent but still a bit tacky. (Like a drunken friend whose voice you know well but whose cadence is racing.) This made me remember our friend Lara’s great suggestion.
Instead of adding more flour to be able to roll out the dough, and thus make the final doughnuts more stiff and dense, instead I pulled out the pastry bag. Lara showed me how (and you can learn it too in her book) to pipe doughnut dough onto squares of parchment paper, then toss them (paper too) into the hot oil. Take the tongs to the parchment paper after a moment and watch it peel away.
Doing this led to perfect cake yeasted doughnuts. Hooray!
After the first four, however, I found myself tiring of the piping. I was home with a curious toddler, a pot of hot oil, a crummy cold leaving me from all the sweating over the hot oil, and the need to take photographs before it grew dark. So I floured up my hands and rolled the dough into small balls and plopped them into the oil.
Beignets. These were the texture of beignets.
Lucy quickly decided that the doughnuts, after I had glazed them with honey and powdered sugar, should be topped with blueberries.
And in the end, I had that feeling again. That feeling of accomplishment, of the rush of knowing these had turned out right. That feeling of completion as the glazed doughnuts stood on the plate, waiting for my camera.
More than that, however, I enjoyed the heck out of the afternoon of doughnuts. Why?
Take a look at this photo. That’s Lucy and her friend Cisco, clutching their favorite dolls to their chests, their hands grabbing homemade doughnuts.
This once-a-year tradition is more than worth it.
GLUTEN-FREE GLAZED YEAST DOUGHNUTS, adapted from Alton Brown
Okay, so here’s the deal. We’re leaving for Alaska in the morning and I’m trying to finish this post before midnight. I have ten minutes.
So I’m going to send you to the original recipe. From there, here’s what you do.
Use 24 ounces of flours, in whatever combination works for you. (We used equal weights of sweet rice, sorghum, buckwheat, and potato starch.)
Add 3 tablespoons ground chia seed.
After the dough has risen, it will be wet, too wet to roll. This is good. It will keep the final doughnuts lighter if the dough is wetter than you expect.
So, pipe a circle of dough onto a small square of parchment paper. Follow the directions for frying in the recipe.
Or, flour your hands and make small balls of dough — don’t aim for big here — and plop them carefully into the hot oil. Cook until browned, about 1 minute.
After the doughnuts have cooled a bit on a cooling rack, glaze them with the following glaze.
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons water
Put the powdered sugar, honey, and water into a small saucepan on medium heat. Stir constantly until everything is well blended and smooth. Turn off the heat. Using your tongs, dip each doughnut into the glaze and cover completely.