What was I thinking?

Go nuts

Have you ever tried to make homemade cake doughnuts? Not the yeast kind… the cake kind? Well, I tried to last weekend and it was a disaster. I had dough stuck to my hands. Stuck to the counter. I did manage to squeak out a few doughnuts, but they ended up with crusty outsides and doughy, sticky insides. I was really frustrated, disappointed and ultimately donutless. But, I’m pretty sure I know what went wrong.

  1. When recipes say generously flour your surface… They mean it
  2. When recipes say heat oil to 365 degrees. They mean it. (But, in my defense, I didn’t have an oil thermometer and the oil looked hot.)

So this weekend, I gave it another go… and with much better results. Not perfect, but much better.

The dough was really sticky on both attempts, so I was sure something was wrong. But this time, I generously floured everything around… the surface, the rolling pin, my hands, me. I sprinkled flour on top of flour determined to make the dough workable.


And it worked. I was able to roll out the dough and cut circle shapes for the doughnuts. I don’t have a doughnut cutter, so I used two different size circle cutters. One about 3 inches wide and the other about 1 inch wide. Looks pretty good, huh?!

Stuck dough

Not so fast. Ugh! I guess I still didn’t use enough flour because I couldn’t get them to come away from the surface.

Distress call

Doughnut patties

Frustrated, again… I just took the dough in my hand and formed doughnut patties and I used the small cutter to remove the centers while still holding the dough. (Hey, it worked.)

Finally, a good one

Eventually, though, I got it down and was able to turn out some really pretty ones that I could even pick up. Yay!

Frying cake

They went in the oil when the temperature was right.

Oil thermometer

And I knew just when that would be because of my handy dandy new oil thermometer. It definitely makes a difference.


See. Doughnuts. (applause, here)

Doughnut holes dough

The best thing about doughnuts? The scraps.

Doughnut holes

You can fry them, too. Cover them in powdered sugar and it almost makes it worth all the trouble.


You can also make a glaze and dip the tops of your doughnuts.


Sprinkles don’t hurt either.


Yum! And definitely not doughy inside. They were really pretty good. Maybe a tiny bit dry… or maybe I left them in the oil too long.

But, I’m not going to find out.

It was fun trying something new, but the next time I want doughnuts, I’ll be hitting up my local Dunkin’ Donuts for some chocolate glazed munchkins… and maybe a few blueberry ones for kicks.

Here’s the recipe I concocted after researching multiple ones for cake doughnuts in case you want to improve on it.

Slightly Dry Cake Doughnuts
4.5 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
4 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk*
2 eggs
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla

  • Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  • Beat eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Add sugar and continue beating until combined.
  • In another bowl, combine melted butter, milk and vanilla.
  • Add the milk mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined.
  • Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture stir until combined.
  • Chill the dough for about 30 minutes to make it easier to work with. (Ha!)
  • Generously flour your work surface and roll dough out about 1/4 inch thick.
  • Use a doughnut cutter or two circle cutters (1 and 3 inch) to cut out shapes.
  • Heat about 2 quarts oil (about 3 inchees deep) in a large, heavy pot to about about 360 degrees.
  • Fry 1-2 doughnuts at a time about a minute on each side. (I didn’t actually time this, but it wasn’t too long)
  • Remove and place on a paper towel-lined tray.
  • When cool, sprinkle powdered sugar or dip them in a vanilla glaze.
  • Makes 12 doughnuts and 12 doughnut holes.

* Most of the recipes called for a cup of milk. I dropped it back thinking the dough was too wet, but it probably needs it for the moistness if you can figure out how to work with the dough. :)

Vanilla glaze
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3-5 Tbsp milk

  • With a mixer, mix sugar and butter.
  • Add vanilla
  • Add milk one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired consistency.


P.S. Here’s what happens when you don’t own an oil thermometer. Doughnut disaster!

Messed up doughnuts

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274 comments on “What was I thinking?”

  1. They look delicious!!! Next time, you could try my aunt’s short-cut donut recipe!! She takes biscuit dough (think Pillsbury or Hungry Jack in the tube), flattens the biscuit, cuts out the hole, fries up those, and sprinkles with powdered sugar! Delish!! :)

  2. So would it be wrong to send my husband to Krispy Kreme right now? I am pregnant after all…

    These look so amazing! I tried frying donuts once and, well, big disaster.

  3. YUMMMMY!! Holy cow… you’ve got me hankerin’ for some donuts now!
    And how can you make a donut look so darn beautiful??
    You’ve conquered a whole new frontier, Bakerella :)

  4. I’ve been there! My oil was first not hot enough, so totally drenched doughnuts…then it was too hot, so they looked really good, but still wet in the middle. I eventually got a batch of some good ones, and powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar definitely made it worth the effort…but not enough to make it into regular rotation :)

  5. They are really pretty, that must make it worth it.

  6. I really admire your creative flair in everything you do, down to the photos, you are very creative and your approach is fun to see and read!

    The nuts however, look might fab!

  7. They did turn out looking great but I’m thinking Tim Hortons or Dunkin’ Donuts may be more my style.

  8. I am on a diet. I am on a diet. I am on a diet.

    Whew! Made it through those pictures just fine! LOL That was some awesome doughnut making you did there. Thank goodness I have willpower.

    Great job!!! :)

  9. Hey Bakerella!
    My husband and I tried making donuts two weeks ago too! We tried using a strawberry cake mix base and also tried a suggestion of using ready made biscuit dough. The first few were too crispy on the outside and too gooey on the inside as well! We ended up lowering out temp a little and they turned out perfect. Although it was a lot of fun, I think I still prefer the already made donuts from our local Daylight donuts! Thanks for sharing, it was fun to read about your experience making donuts!

  10. Yummy! Looks like fun to make — when everything goes as expected! I can’t wait to get my hands on a candy thermometer (there’s a great one on our wedding registry) which, along with the KitchenAid stand mixer, will totally revolutionize how I cook! :-)

  11. two words: OH MY.

    I love watching your blog! Thank you so much for all your ideas… made the brownie cookie bars last night for the third or fourth time, a huge hit again! Thank you thank you.

    Hmmm donuts sure sound good.

  12. Bakerella, why do you make everything look so good? You could probably plop some of the glaze on top of your first batch from last weekend and they wouldn’t taste so good but LOOK delicious!

  13. Oh How I love Donuts! I mean LOVE them. When that HOT sign is flashing just get outta my way. Just plain ol’ glazed are my favorites. I even tried them without the glaze (not recommended) it wasn’t as good as I thought.Yucky really. I was hoping for a cake like Donuts like the ones you made.

    After your numerous tries at the recipe you got some really yummy looking results. Wanna come over and teach me how to make them now?

  14. Those look so yummy! I love seeing what you are up to in the kitchen when I visit your blog. Thanks for sharing the recipe and pictures of your process making the doughnuts.

  15. Great job for trying! I’ve always wanted to try making doughnuts. The end results look like the work was worth it :)

  16. I’ve had the exact same donut disaster! I was dead set on apple cider donuts last fall. I found the perfect recipe, the perfect cider and bought my oil thermometer, and I failed too. Instead of trying again, I went and bought a donut pan and baked my next batch. They turned out great that way (and much healthier)!

  17. Doughnuts scare me. But my 2-year-old LOVES them. So … maybe i’ll try. Who knows?

  18. Hi Bakerella – They look so yummy! I must say you are brave to attempt this only 1 week later! I usually avoid failed attempts for a whole month before revisiting the recipe – haha!

    I do have a question – what brand and color combo of sprinkles did you use? Where can I get them too?

  19. My mom makes spudnuts; they are always light and perfect. I guess practice makes perfect! The holes are ALWAYS the best part!

  20. Oh. My. Yummy.

  21. Sensational {as awlays} You are so, so cute even putting up disaster photos:) I put cakepop photos on my blog {and should have included the top heavy ones toppling all over the place….even landing on the floor}, Vanessa xoxox

  22. Love yor photos. your second trial yielded magnificent results, I’m very impressed. No way I can find these in shops!! hell!

  23. Oh wow! I was totally jonesing for donuts this past week and looked up some recipes. After a few searches, I just said to heck with it! I’ll go to the donut shop.

    But your donuts look great!

  24. oh man! can’t let my doughnut obsessed husband see me looking at this or i’d have my work cut out for me!

  25. Oh they turned out really good! They look yummy :)

  26. Bakerella,
    Hi! I’m new to your blog and SO inspired! I wouldn’t consider myself a baker. Mostly just do chocolate chip cookies. But you have me on a new path! I have made the mini cheesecakes and the cake balls so far and my family says they are delicious! Yay! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes! Your blog is GREAT!! :)
    Thanks again for the inspiration!

  27. Wow! They look awesome! However, I won’t be trying to make any. I just don’t have that kind of dedication for a donut, but enjoy seeing you do it!

  28. This brings back tons of memories for me. I remember making doughnuts with my mom on Saturday mornings every now and then. It was probably the hardest recipe we made, but it was also the recipe that I learned the most from. Your doughnuts look delicious!

  29. They sure are pretty. The best donuts I’ve ever had in my life were baked applesauce donuts from Apple Hill in the California gold country. The problem was, the lady who brought the recipe from the “old country” refused to give the recipe to her family. When she passed away, so did the donuts. Absolutely delish covered in cinnamon and sugar.

  30. I giggled when I saw the “HELP” written in flour! They truly do look delicious. I am so glad, though, that you posted your troubles as well- it made me feel better. I’ve been having such a crummy baking week… must be something in the air!

  31. Even your disasters look pretty.

  32. If you want a real short cut. Buy a cake doughnut maker. It looks like a waffle maker and makes two at a time. I bought mine off ebay (my mom had the same brand when i was a kid). Just use a regular cake mix and they are so yummy especially when they are warm=)

  33. Your donuts look really good, I hate when things come out the complete opposite from what you were trying to do, but at least you can say you officially made donuts.

  34. Many years ago on a Christmas Eve I made jelly filled yeast doughnuts. They were delicious but I have to agree with the consensus, totally not worth the hassle and fuss. Krispy Kreme makes a killer doughnut anyways.


  36. I never thought about making my own doughnuts.. it’s sucha great idea! I actually can’t stand buying doughnuts because they’re always so dry. These look sooo good.

  37. I was just telling my husband this morning about my Mom making homemade donuts when I was little (when we used a fry daddy for just about everything, not thinking that it might be bad for us!). Thanks for posting this recipe and all the hints. Maybe I’ll try my hand at it…

  38. This is never going to sound right but the fact that YOU- Bakerella!- had a not-so-successful run makes me kind of happy… not that I don't want you to be perfect in every way but you seem some what more… uh… real? no, well maybe it's not what it makes you but that it makes me feel more like- hey, she failed and it was okay so give it a whirl…

    I have no idea what I'm trying to say. Thanks for sharing everything!! <3

  39. Hey Bakerella! I gave you the Zombie Chicken Award at my blog: http://verabear.net/2009/04/zombies/

    I’ve never tried to make doughnuts but these look yummy!

  40. Yep! Lived that this weekend! Spooky, huh?! Since my kids like donut holes so much, I’m just going to leave the batter in the bowl and use my small scooper (sprayed with oil or coated with flour) and skip the mess of rolling – IF I EVER MAKE THEM AGAIN!!! I thought my donuts were kind of dry in the middle too. I think our local donut shop is better, cheaper, and much neater.

  41. More power to you for trying a second time! They certainly look good enough, but I personally think there are certain things that are better left to the experets and one of them definitely is donuts. Nothing like a box of Krispy Kreme! (Being overseas, I dream often about them!!)

  42. Your cake doughnuts look awesome! I’m so proud of you for sticking (hmm, bad word choice) with it! You’ve got your oil thermometer and your flour and you’ve got beautiful cake doughnuts!! I might have to give this recipe a try–at least once. Great job!

  43. LOL, oh Bakerella! Your blog is so entertaining, and I appreciate you sharing your disasters and successes! Those doughnuts look yummy, but I think I’m going to leave the doughnut making to someone else!

    Thanks for the good read!

  44. Bakerella! OMGOSH! Those are simply gorgeous. Thanks for figuring out all the frustrating parts for us and telling us what works!

  45. I’ve made cake doughnuts before, with great success. I didn’t realize it was supposed to be difficult, which means that my perfect doughnuts must have been a flukes because I’m NOT that great at baking! I made them for a women’s tea I was hosting here and when they were still piping hot, I stuck them in cinnamon and sugar… mmmmmmmm… darnit… now I need them. Stupid cravings.

  46. I attempted cake donuts back in the fall and it was an utter failure. I’ve been too scared to try them again plus there’s a Dunkin’ Donus right around the corner and an amazing French patisserie that have managed to keep my cravings at bay. :) Your finished products always look amazing btw.

  47. What a great post (no surprises there). Love the Help photo, just love it.

  48. I really need to get an oil thermometer…there have been so many things that I just haven’t tried because I didn’t own one.

    I love cake doughnuts. I haven’t had one in years because…well, lets just say “the freakin’ scale!!” Ugh.

  49. Oh! Donuts have been the bain of my existence this week. I bought a dozen assorted for my kids on Driday (even though I’d sworn off all carbs) and by Saturday night I was a ravished, sweating heap of donut-cravings.

    And, now. Bakerella! That glaze. Those sprinkles.

    I consider it a sign from the Donut Gods. I’m listening. I’m waking up early. I’m downing donuts by the dozen. Tomorrow, a donut-celebration shall commence!

  50. mmmm, donuts are on my list of things to try and make. So thanks for sharing your tips! It makes me a little more confident to go for it. And thanks for sharing disasters too! I am just about to publish a disaster of my own, and thought I was the only one who would do that. :)

  51. We used to make doughnuts when I was growing up. But instead of glaze we'd shake them in a bag of cinnamon & sugar. Oh the goodness… mmm… Oh, I'm back now.

    Good job even without the oil thermometer. :)

  52. your photos are always so fantastic.

  53. I love making doughnuts!These are so pretty!The first time I made doughnut I had the same problem.

  54. Mmmmm, those doughnut scraps remind me of the beignets my Mom would sometimes make us for breakfast. Nothing better than fried dough with powdered sugar.

  55. Well at least SOMETIMES the pros don’t always get it right. Now we don’t have to feel so bad about our sad attempts. BUT I will say that when your stuff turns it puts all the rest of our stuff to shame. Even if they are still “slightly dry”

  56. Mmmmmm…..Those look amazing! I love that you’re always trying new things. It inspires me.

  57. OOOO, but they look sooooo good!!!!!

    I have also made the donuts using biscuit dough! They are very good and very easy!!!

  58. Wow!!!!! They look really yummy. I’m sure you’ll get perfect donuts one way or another.

    Go for it!!!

  59. I would suggest that you spray everything before sprinkling it with flour. I don’t know if you have a GFS (Gordon Food Service) store in your area, but their Vegaline pan coating spray is won-der-ful!!!
    I spray the counter and the rooling pin before doing pie crusts, or rolled cookies, or . . .and then sprinkle them with flour – it makes all steps easier – including clean up ;-}

  60. In Turkey we don’t bother making them donut shaped… the best summer dessert is Lokma, which is basically donut holes. I’d take them over Dunkin Donuts any time- except maybe the chocolate munchkins. Gotta love chocolate munchkins

  61. Yum!!!!!!!!

  62. I have never made doughnuts. These look good. Great photos, too!

  63. I have never made donuts. And even though this wasn’t your most successful adventure it seems like you had fun making them.

  64. I’ve been thinking about trying to make donuts all last week. Now after reading this, I think I’ll go get an oil thermometer and get to work today.

  65. That’s why I bake donuts, not fry them! Too much work.

    Your’s look excellent though, great job! =)

  66. You go girl! I would have given up half way through the first time!
    They look delicious!

  67. Yum! Way to keep on keepin’ on.

  68. My Mom makes yeast and cake donuts, every year for Xmas. I’ve only tried making them once and they turned out pretty well. My favorite part is when she dips the donut holes in chocolate glaze and rolls them in coconut. YUM!!

    Glad you gave it a second try. Looks like it was worth the work.

  69. SWEET! And look how lovely they are with sprinkles.
    When I worked in a bakery (many moons ago) we had a nifty machine that plopped the cake batter right into the oil – it created the hole and everything. When it ran low on batter it made these really cool squiggly things akin to funnel cake. :o)

  70. I love to make donuts! I use an old-fashioned mashed potato donut recipe. It helps keep them moist. Then if you add a generous pinch of ginger it helps keep them from soaking up too much oil. I love them fresh from the oil with some homemade rasberry jam. MMmmmm…

  71. Wow, You have a lot of patience, :) They look excellent!!! Do you by any chance have any Mother’s Day ideas ?
    ~Digitally Kelly~

  72. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences with cake donut making! I have made lots of yeasted donuts through the years, but these look wonderful!

  73. Thanks for the recipe! I tried to make chocolate cake doughnuts a few months ago and had a hard time finding a recipe. The one I ended up using wasn’t that great. I’ll have to try this one.

    I have a mini-doughnut pan to bake them, instead of frying. Possibly easier to make, but less delicious?

  74. Hee hee hee Ha Ha Ha, I am SO glad I am not the only one. But next time e-mail me first and I can tell you NOT to try this at home! Save your sanity! GO to Krispy Kreme they have been doing it for DECADES and are WAY better!

  75. I admire your tenacity! I have to say, it looks like a little more trouble than it’s worth. I think I’ll just keep driving through Shipley’s Donuts when I have a craving.

  76. I love this. I feel that everyone can appreciate the work that goes into donuts at the bakery. :) I’ve owned a donut shop for the past two years…it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done in my life! I wish I could help with suggestions, but we’ve never tried making them at home…always with commercial equipment. But all of ours were handmade, not with a robot. :) My husband is the BEST at it! Good job Bakerella! I am very impressed. BTW, roll them thicker next time…and I’m thinking our oil is hotter than that. One minute on each side….

  77. hehehe I love donut Holes!!!

  78. I don’t even LIKE donuts, but you make them look good!!

  79. These look delicious and really yummy. I bet they would be fun to make with some kiddies.

  80. YUM!!! They are beautiful! I made yeast doughnuts from leftover brioche dough last week, and they were so good! I still have leftover chocolate glaze. What do you do with leftover glaze?

  81. Wow – (the slightest bit dry or not) they are gorgeous! Yummy glaze and sprinkles can deliciously cover anything!

  82. Oh great…guess who started Atkins today, and I am pretty sure your delicious donuts are NOT on the menu! They look amazing! Cake donuts were always my favorite growing up, the best ones I found being just outside Capitol Reef National Park in Torrey, Utah. Why is my mouth watering?! Glad they turned out for you. They are beautiful!

  83. Ha! ‘Slightly dry cake donuts’ Great recipe title!

  84. I am impressed! They look professional.

  85. My mother makes the most delicious cake donuts, using the Betty Crocker recipe. Hers always turn out so perfectly but everytime I try to make them I end up having the same problems you did! lol I always swear ‘never again’ but find myself craving them.

  86. You are a hoot. I made donuts last night, but I cheated. I used used refrigderator biscuits. I got the recipe from Make and Takes. Love it.

  87. mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm yummy yummy :)

  88. Its been ages since I participated in donut making – the last time was a hot July morning and rather than heat the kitchen up we used our trusty propane fish cooker / turkey fryer outside. It worked really well & we were able to have a bigger production going.

  89. they look good. When I’m in the mood to make doughnuts I use the recipe from RealSimple magazine. The Yum factor is off the charts!


  90. They are sooo pretty! I am not going to attempt to make them, but oh so pretty to look at!

  91. My mouth is watering just looking at these!

  92. I’m glad I’m not the only one who has trouble with doughnuts.

  93. I do exactly what houseofestrogen says and have for years! I enjoy rolling mine in cinnamon sugar. YUM!

  94. My multicooker is packed, so I will have to experiment with those some other time. Is it wrong that I would have just floured my hands to kingdom come and roll them into balls and see if I could turn them into jelly donuts?

  95. The reason commercial cake donuts are better is that the dough is actually like a thick cake batter and it is dropped into the oil from a special hopper that extrudes it into the donut shape as it comes out. They are never rolled to start with so the batter can remain a batter instead of a dough. I used to work in a bakery and I loved making cake donuts. It is fun to crank the donut hopper and watch the fryer fill up with cakey goodness.

  96. They look ammmmmmazing! You are so great. I am sure you hear this a lot but you are my idol. I refer to you all of the time when I am baking and my family laughs. I talk about you like we are good friends.

    I hope you are having a great Monday!

  97. You should try having a donut with a nice Riesling…It’s really good!


  98. Oh, yum! I’ve had a terrible time making doughnuts too!!! But yours look yummy!! Good job!!

  99. you did beautifully, when I was in culinary school we had a section of donut making. it is harder then most people think, also since I wqas pregnant and had to smell doughnut oil at 4 in the morning … I can usually pass up a doughnut these days…oh oh I was also going to say that the fat used to fry doughnuts is very different then what you use at home the plasticity is very high and it is so solid you have to chunk it with a knife, like it cracks off, my arteries are still shuddering. k I am gonna stop babbling about donuts now

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