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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275 comments on “What was I thinking?”

  1. Tried this recipe, but the batter mixture was very gooey, where did I go wrong??

  2. Why do glazed donuts get so wet on the outside when
    you put them in a container and how can this be prevented ?

  3. What a great idea!

  4. I think this is a really cool recipe!! I want to try this sometime because I have all the ingredients!! I’m only 12 Andover just started baking about 4 months ago and I’ve only used your website!! I’ve made those mini maple pancake muffins for my teachers and they said they loved them so much that I had to make more!! Thank you so much for all of your fantastic recipes!!

  5. i made some with my sister today it was well buff

  6. nice i made some today yummy

  7. my family LOVES donuts! we have made donuts before. my two
    little sisters favorite part is the frosting, but i like the donut better.

  8. I’d still eat the damaged ones. Toss some glaze on it. :) yum!

  9. I made chocolate cake doughnuts over the weekend and they were fantastic. actually, they were more like doughnut holes, or “Munchkins” if you get them from Dunkin Donuts. I don’t have a doughnut cutter either, plus the dough is too soft to handle. I thought, I love doughnut holes, so I chilled the dough, rolled it all into walnut sized balls, then fried them. after they cooled, I dipped them in a thin glaze and let the dry on a rack. they tasted just like Dunkin Donuts chocolate cake munchkins.

  10. total baking beginner here but I did master a copycat krispy kreme fried donut (ok once.) The flour tip is dead on! What a mess I made – even did a regular glaze and a chocolate glaze. My only tip, other than a DD run, would be to keep the little critters moving in the oil. I played too, and found that two inches or so of oil in my cast iron skillet worked the best, and I kept them going in a circle around the pan watching them brown. Then I did a little flip with a wooden chopstick . Oh it was quite the production. Was it worth it? They were delish but again, a lot of work and mess. I sure wish I had found your blog before I spent a small fortune in cupcake liners and sprinkles on a pan to try baking them lol :P

  11. I how it said HELP and how written it on the flour very cute

  12. One thing that me and my mum did when we made donuts was make them into balls like people did in the olden days and cooked them for about 3 to 5 minutes and then when they turn over, take them out and poke a hole and pour jam in. Cook again until fully cooked and then let rest for half an hour. Don’t worry, they’ll still be boiling hot!

  13. Those look delicious!

  14. is it possible to bake them in the oven????????????? iv got a doughnunt tray for oven baking trying to find a resipe

  15. Great recipes! great blog! But I don’t think for breakfast, for kids and everyday. Unless you’re promoting obesity and diabetes. Sorry I don’t mean to hurt anyone, I just happen to be a mother who’s aware of that problem. But I do think your blog is beautiful…

  16. I like these ways to make sweets it can make the parties more beautiful … it’s so wonderful !!!

  17. Hey even the ones that turned out “horrible” are pretty good…my grandma used to make something like this and it was so crispy and so awesome

  18. Mmm….Hope my mom will help me make these.

  19. fuck uu

  20. Haha,, donuts,, in holland we make something like that,, only the dough is thinner, and taking it right away with an ice scoop in the pan with oil, we call them oliebollen, and then we cover them with powdered sugar (you can also do apple or raisins in the dough)

  21. Haha,, donuts,, in holland we make something like that,, only the dough is thinner, and taking it right away with an ice scoop in the pan with oil, we call them oliebollen, and then we cover them with powdered sugar (you can also do apple or raisins in the dough)

  22. I got a donut maker from target which cooks cake donuts in 5 minutes! it works really well!

  23. while ive never made donuts, my mom tried to. they turned out like dough spread really thin, then fried. if you dont get it, trust me when i say they were no good. tasted a bit like charcoal. or a super burnt marshmallow. either way, uucgh. have u ever tried to make edible cupcake holders? i saw it on tv once, they used hollowed out oranges, stuck in the batter, and whala! They didn’t look pretty, though. But I’m sure you could make them nice.

  24. Why is there water in my hand? Wait- WAIT! Am I drooling? Better get me some all purpose flour, hahaha. But really this looks YUMMY!

  25. my mother used to make delish doughnuts

  26. I make ones like these, but instead of trying to make the dough dry enough so I can roll it out and cut them, I just put the dough into a pastry bag and pipe it straight into the oil. It takes a little bit to get the hang of making circles, but I find it makes the doughnuts less dry that way. But… you don’t get cute shapes from cookies cutters.

  27. Hi Angie,
    These donuts look so damn adorable!
    I was going to try make them aswell, but with a different glaze, but i can’t trust my self to make a glaze recipe, im only 14!
    Cupcakes im okay with, but i have never accually made donuts, but i wanted to try make a cinnamon glaze. Yum!

  28. My recipe was just as sticky!! They worked out okay though, and I cooked mine in my fondue pot (yes strange, but they did work), and now I have a donut baker that’s like a waffle maker. And the donut holes are just like the ones at the fair! Great job on yours! I think it’s time for me to do more.

  29. mmmm i love donuts i now want to start baking

  30. Hi, Bakerella. I love you.

    Anyways, I’ve made fried doughnuts before, and fortunately with better luck then you. (If that would have happened with me I would have been so frustrated, and never touched another spatula ever in my baking career.) But for Christmas I got doughnut pans, and I love them. I want to make doughnuts all the time in them. Unfortunately, getting the batter into the pans is kind of a pain. So I’ve been brainstorming on how to get it into the pans easier, and I came up with putting the batter into a frosting bag with a plain tip. Although I haven’t tried this yet myself, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Anyways, baking doughnuts is quicker, easier, and WAY less messy. I hated cleaning up after all that oil. I highly suggest getting doughnut pans.
    And if you already have them, never mind. Ha ha ha

  31. Great receipe! I’m not brave enough to try making doughnuts.

  32. All my years of doughnut making and I’ve never made cake doughnuts… always yeast, I’m obsessed.

    Not that a thermometer costs a lot, but if you’re suddenly frying without one try this: put the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil, if bubbles start popping up around it in a steady stream, your oil is around 350 degrees. I used this method for *years* before ever buying my first thermometer and never had an issue.

  33. Hello All! :D

    I too love the site so great work- That incudes those who post your stories recipies ect- Thank you.

    I make “yeast donut bites” at least twice a week for my co workers. Yes I cheat, as 1) we are at work and not supossed to do it, and 2) yes I work in a restaurant, so I have use of a huge Frymaster Fryer. And 3) heres the kicker- I go to the local store and get a package of the frozen white bread loafs- usually 3 one pound loaves- thaw one let rise and rip ~~little~~ chunks off! (no bigger than a half dollar) …….we also do “straws’ on occassion too…..

    But fear not! If you want to do the skillet fry or fry daddy way it will work! Just make sure the oil is about 350 (drop a bit of dough in, it should be a “happy lively ” fry cooking sound not the insane buzzing- then its too hot. If it sits there and makes you sad then yes too cool. :p )

    We let them cook about 2-3 minutes so they are golden, usually no more than 4-5 cos then the outside can get very tough/ chewy.

    Have your powdered suger cinni-sugar, or glaze ready ( put sugars in a bag/ container that closes welll – shaking them gets a nice coating.)

    I usually make 30 – 40 bites at a time. We use a Cinni-sugar mix and these are usually gone within 5-10 minutes…… Especially if Toy is working!! lol (Luv ya babe!)

    I hope this will help you in the European areas get a bit of your donut fix easier! Less mess, less work, more yum!

    (btw, I did make a really big to be jelly filled one once- turned out really decent, a little chewy on the outside, but the trick to the really big ones is to keep rolling/ flipping them the whole time. I did about 30 second intervals. And no he didnt get jellied- he got gobbled up by my 6 year old sister.)

  34. Have you thought of adding some videos to your posts to keep the visitors more entertained? I just read through the entire article and it was quite good…thanks for the share

  35. We used to make donuts growing up every year for Christmas! We put powdered sugar in a bag and shook the donuts in that. Also we did regular sugar with cinnamon. YUMMY! Oh, and chocolate frosting from the can, smeared on top!

  36. bakerella, where did you buy your paste sprinkles? thanks…

  37. I’m going to enjoy trying these the nearest donut shop is at least 45min away and a question also do they have to be circles? I want square and letter shaped ones cause those are the cutters I have… lol

  38. wow that is soooooooooo kool

  39. The second attempt looks very delicious.
    I’ve made doughnuts at home before, but I just made round cake doughnuts. They turned out good, I sprinkled them with granulated sugar. Delish.

  40. I never use a thermometer for hot oil. I just get my fingers wet and splash some water in there, and if it spatters, it’s the right temperature. It never fails. ;)

  41. OY! Its just that everything you do IS SO FREAKIN CUTE! From the bowl to the sprinkles to the frosting..! Andd not to mention they all look nummy!

  42. Use a piece of ploy/cotton material to cover a large cutting board. Pull it tight and smooth. Add plenty of flour and work into the stretched material.The flour will go down into the material and the dough will pick up flour as needed. I have a very soft cookie dough and this is all I use. Don’t use the dough on counters.

  43. Bakerella doesn’t reply to her blog post replies??? I see so many questions unanswered!

  44. Neat Idea..Ive Always Used Pankcake Mix & Make My Own Type Glaze….They End Up Tasting More Like Funnel Cakes But They Are A Big Hit…Especially With My Little Siblings & Husband! They Are Always Begging Me To Make Them!

  45. I think they came out great. WAY better then I could ever do.

  46. they r sik love them omg lol

  47. hi there! congrats on the amazing looking cake donuts! i own and operate a donut and kolache shop in katy, tx, but i wasn’t “born” into this business. i had to learn everything myself, from scratch, so i can totally appreciate any donut horror stories!!!!! i had all the crazy things that can go wrong happen, and survived :) i thank the heavens for my cake donut depositer now – much easier!!!!

  48. Cake doughnuts without all the trouble:


    For Doughnuts:
    1 large egg
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/2 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/2 cup milk
    1/4 cup melted butter
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

    For Topping:
    1/3 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    3 Tablespoons melted butter

    Preheat oven to 350 ºF. Grease and lightly flour a 12-cup muffin tin. In a small bowl, sift together flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, 1/4 cup butter and vanilla. Add dry ingredients to this mixture, mixing until just moistened.

    Fill the muffin tins three-fourths full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out dry.

    To make the topping: In a small bowl or cup, mix 1/3 cup sugar and cinnamon together.

    Brush muffins with 3 tablespoons melted butter and roll in sugar/cinnamon.
    (12 servings)

  49. I agree with Houseofestrogen, I use the biscuit method and they turn out delicious every time!

  50. These look really yummy! With the left over scraps I was thinking about inserting jam into the middle of them.

  51. Hi! We live in France and miss Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts, so I just may have to treat my family to these one morning! Thanks for posting this! I love that even though it didn’t work the first time and they were dry the second time you were honest and told it how it was! I like to bake and try new things and it makes me feel great that others try and fail too! Thnaks!

  52. Although, I know you do everything home made, but for an easy fix you can make doughnuts from typical refrigerated biscuits and just roll them into cinnamon and sugar. Don’t forget to cut the holes, this is the fun part. Bake for 6min on 375

  53. My best friends mom always made doughnuts for us growing up and she used pillsbury biscuits (canned) and punched holes in them and deep fried them. Really easy and pretty similiar to a doughnut taste!

  54. whenever i make donuts i usually just use a store bought can of biscuits, poke a hole in them and fry @ 350 (buying an electric fryer is very very helpful here!) then coat with powdered sugar or any icing you’d like :)

  55. Love your site and your donuts made me think of ones my dad used to make, with canned biscuits. Get the little, plain canned biscuits (usually really inexpensive). Use tiny round cutter to take out the center for donut holes, and deep fry the whole lot. My dad would make a simple powdered sugar and milk glaze (sometimes even adding some orange juice to it for tanginess) and slather it over the hot donuts. Granted, it is a “poor man’s donut”, but it is TOO DIE FOR!

  56. Among the kitchen items left to me by my grandmother was a donut baking pan. I have found it to be perfect for cake donuts. Just mix up a batch of your favorite cake or muffin and pour in. Bake. Eat delicious, moist donuts! The pan is wonderfully non-stick, but I always give it an extra shot of cake release, just to be safe.

    My favorite concotion so far has been the banana nut donuts with honey-ginger-lime glaze. Unexpected but oh so good!

  57. misskelley – it’s so weird that you mention them. I had one of their donuts the other day and it was the best thing ever. I have to get to their shop for more investigating.

  58. i second (or third or fourth) the biscuit doughnut idea! very simple and super tasty. but if you choose to buy your own instead, there is a place on 10th street in ATL called sublime doughnuts. you will be too busy craving their awesomeness to ever want DD or KK again!

  59. LOL! I thought I was the ONLY one! Had all the exact same problems except also add in quickly grabby the closest slotted spoon which happened to be plastic to remove the objects that closely resembeled burnt tires….

  60. I love your site and have recommended it to many of my friends who asked how I make cake pops. One of the things I love most about it is how “real” you are. You aren’t afraid to tell about your flops and you’re so generous in sharing tips and instructions about your successes. I have made cake pops for school parties, cast parties and work treats. My husband asked me to make some for a church breakfast! I told him they were not breakfast food, but I would make some at Christmas. Now I can’t wait to try the Christmas trees! Thanks again for being a kitchen inspiration!

  61. For the past 2 months I’ve been craving apple cider doughnuts. They’re cake doughnuts and typically, only found at farms or farmer’s markets in the fall. Couldn’t find any, so I considered baking them. After reading this, I think I’ll stick with the pumpkin doughnuts at Dunkin Donuts. They aren’t apple cider, but they do taste like fall. And they’re a lot less trouble!

  62. My mom makes the BEST cake (or at least cake-like) doughnuts! She uses this tool, like a doughnut dropper, where you make the batter and drop it directly in to the hot oil. It works wonderfully! Way less mess! She even adds some nutmeg and cinnamon to her batter to make them a little extra special!
    I found a website to show what the dropper looks like~

  63. Hey.
    I love your recipes.
    But how many grams is everything?
    I live in The Netherlands so that is easier for me.

  64. that is so true homemade dougnuts are hard

  65. We also use biscuits in a tube & they turn out great! The perfect consistency believe it or not. We also just roll them in a bowl of granulated sugar. These are a big hit when my kids have sleepovers!

  66. i made these today and they were DELICIOUS I managed to work the milk in without it being too sticky by leaving it in the fridge overnight. They still don't look as perfect as yours though =]

  67. Oh! i just have to try this recipe, actually i tried to make dougnuts a year ago or so but uhm, let's just say that they turned out way worse then the ones you failed at xD Lucky you who actually can just go to dunkin' donuts and buy them, we don't have donuts in sweden :C

  68. I am in awe over your talent. I wish I had an 8th of it. I am truly inspired and plan to attempt some of your amazing creations this year- God willing I have patience left after my 3 smallest get through with me.
    Your an inspiration!

  69. I absolutely love making homemade doughnuts! I have a few recipes that I make all the time. It is nice to see someone else taking on the challenge.

  70. My husband cooked doughnuts for two years as a pastry chef and he said that when your cake doughnuts are too dry they’ve been a little overcooked. He also said that flour, flour, flour, flour is the key! Even when you think you have enough, put a little extra in for good measure! Hope your next batch turns out perfectly =]

  71. Thank you soooooooo much for sharing! In the NL we eat the fried sugared balls on New Year’s Eve and on children fairs. They’re called oliebollen (oil balls). Donuts sold in NL supermarkets have not that fresh taste as the oliebollen have so I definitely have to try your recipe now ;)

  72. The help in the flour message made me LOL.

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