Saturday, January 29, 2011


I'm trying to console myself by saying that no one succeeds with doughnuts on her first try. Even Bakerella, my baking icon, failed an attempt. But somehow I thought baked doughnuts would be easier ... and I was wrong.

When my niece Erin posted a link to this recipe I was super excited. I thought for sure this was the answer to my prayers - a non-intimidating doughnut recipe that didn't even require frying! I was anxious to give it a try, but I have to admit that I knew it was a failure before I had even finished kneading the dough.

You'll find my thoughts on what went wrong after the recipe.

Baked Doughnuts
1 1/3 cups warm milk (95-105 degrees)
1 packet active dry yeast
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
5 cups flour
Pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer. Set aside for 5 to 8 minutes. Meanwhile, stir butter and sugar into remaining warm milk. Add to yeast mixture.With a fork, stir in flour, nutmeg and salt until flour is just incorporated.

With the dough hook attachment, stir on medium speed for a few minutes. The dough should pull away from the side of the bowl and begin to form a ball. If it appears to be too sticky, add more flour, a few tablespoons at a time. If it appears to be too dry, add more milk, a tablespoon or so at a time.

Turn onto floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place (like the top of the oven turned to a very low temperature) for one hour, until dough is doubled in size.

Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a doughnut cutter or two round biscuit cutters (one large, one small) to cut doughnuts out. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover, and let rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. While doughnuts are baking, melt butter in a microwe-safe bowl. Place cinnamon and sugar in a separate bowl and stir to combine. Doughnuts are done when golden on the bottom. When doughnuts come out of oven, toss in melted butter, then in cinnamon-sugar mixture.

This is the part where you're supposed to be enjoying your warm, delicious, guilt-free baked doughnuts. Instead, I was looking at a bunch of barely golden, flat disks on my baking sheet. I'm almost certain I know what went wrong (it could have been one of two things ... or both):

1. My milk was too warm. It's important to make sure the milk doesn't exceed 105 degrees or you risk killing the yeast. I checked mine, but removed the thermometer as soon as I saw it hit 95 - I should have made sure it didn't pass 105 (and I have a feeling it would have).

2. My yeast stayed at the bottom of the mixing bowl and didn't get fully incorporated into the dough. I often have this problem with my mixing bowl because there's a dip in the bottom of the bowl that's tough to reach. I suspect I didn't get down there while I was mixing with the fork, and it's impossible for the hook to reach down there.

My dough didn't appear to be doubled after the first rising, but I forged ahead because I'd already gone that far and I figured it was worth seeing what happened. It didn't get any better from there. I could tell when I was cutting the doughnuts that it wasn't quite right, too. But after all that work, I had to at least put them in the oven. What a waste!

As usual, I'm not giving up. I'll give it another shot, and now that I know what probably went wrong I expect to be successful! Erin was luckier than I was with this recipe, so many she has some suggestions for me :)


  1. Ooooh, anything with yeast is tricky! I swear there's some magic involved.. you've got to know some spell or have commandeered a wand or something. Despite the failure of the yeast.. were they edible?

  2. Unfortunately, no. They didn't even come close to edible. I attached a picture of the disaster above. I didn't get a chance to try them again yesterday, but I want to. I'm almost positive I killed the yeast with too-warm milk, but that can be easily fixed - the trick might be heating it in the microwave vs. on the stovetop!