Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Quest: A Great Vegan Doughnut

Day 1 of  the Great Vegan Doughnut Quest

Vegan doughnut are trendy and all over the country you can find doughnut shops specializing in vegan offerings to high acclaim. If they can do it, I can probably figure it out. However if I am going to be perfectly honest here, I am not a big fan. Most doughnuts are too sweet and too fat-laden for my taste, but the kids love them. Luckily our doughnut shop is clear across town and we rarely make it over there to treat the kids with a doughnut breakfast, but that doesn't keep them from asking for them all the time. 

In looking at Calorielab.com's analysis of Dunkin Donuts fat and calorie totals it is no wonder the kids love them, they are loaded!  I always opt for the chocolate ones with chocolate frosting when we do splurge but I am rethinking that decision after doing a little research on the CalorieLab website that says that particular doughnut happens to be the highest in fat and calories that Dunkin Donuts makes, topping the list with 20 grams of fat and 360 calories -- Yikes! Hardly worth it for a bit of hours-old deep fried dough topped with sickeningly sweet frosting that stimulates the appetite in such a way that within an hour I am starved and craving more. No thanks, I can make better food decisions than that!

So I'm on a quest to create a terrific vegan doughnut. Vegan because some in my family eat vegan and I would like to make them for everyone to enjoy, but they have to be good...I mean really good, so that the kids ask for mine instead of Dunkin's. That's a tall order!

Day 1:  The picture above is from the first attempt, I used the 'Perfect Vanilla Doughnuts' recipe from ChocolateCoveredKatie.com only I made them in my doughnut maker, a plug-in unit that used to be my grandparents. The recipe had a good base flavor, but the consistency was a bit lackluster. I tried adding applesauce to the batter for the second batch into the machine and that improved the texture some, but they were still kind of 'gummy.' In Katie's defense however, some of that was a result of using the doughnut maker, not necessarily her recipe's issues.

Day 2:  The second day I abandoned the tired doughnut maker, it was clearly not the route to greatness so I broke out the doughnut pan, which had been in storage since I received them as a gift years ago and I tried the recipe again. This time I added in the applesauce and increased the vinegar. I also threw in a 1/2 teaspoon of almond extract because my mom always made terrific almond doughnuts when I was a kid and I figured it certainly couldn't hurt. Looking for more lift I switched out 1 teaspoon of the baking powder for soda. These were a definite improvement from day 1, not great, but certainly better. The soda addition however was overpowering and the flavor came through as an aftertaste, so back to powder in the next batch.

Day 2:  Even with nuts there was little to get excited about with this doughnut.

Day 3:  Something had to be done about the texture, that was for certain. My first thought was that nuts would bulk up the batter and provide a bit more tooth to the cake structure. The problem with using nuts though is that I'm after a doughnut my kids like to eat, and kids, my kids included, really don't like nuts. So I turned to the food processor for help in pulverizing the nuts until they were nearly undetectable.  

Now I had a big food processor to clean, this had better be worth it -- and it was! The bulk of adding just 1/2 cup of chopped pecans made a world of difference in the texture, but even more surprisingly, these doughnuts had a discernible crust that developed more as they cooled. These doughnuts actually seemed fried with a crispy exterior and a nice light interior. That nut idea was worth repeating. They seemed a tad too sweet to me, but these doughnuts are worthy of a recipe entry, and yes - even the kids thought so! 

Day 3:  The addition of pecans earned these doughnuts a place in the recipe archives. 

Nutty Pecan and Almond Doughnuts


2 teaspoons vinegar
2/3 cup milk of choice (I use soy)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Grease a non-stick doughnut pan with cooking spray. 
  2. Measure out the milk in a liquid measure and add all remaining liquid ingredients, adding vinegar first to curdle the milk. 
  3. In the bowl of the food processor, combine all the dry ingredients with the pecans and blend until the nuts have been broken up and the mixture looks uniform. Add the coconut oil and pulse to blend evenly. 
  4. Slowly pour in the liquid to blend it into the dry ingredients and immediately spoon the mixture into the prepared doughnut pan. 
  5. Bake 13-14 minutes and remove the pan from the oven, carefully loosen the doughnuts and turn them over in the pan. The middles may have baked over the hole section of the pan, but carefully just press them back down into the pan. This crisps up the bottoms and gives them a better doughnut form.  Return them to the oven and bake until they begin to develop a rich golden color, approximately 5-7 minutes. 
  6. Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan and then remove to a cooling rack. 
  7. Once cool, glaze (see below) and enjoy.
Glaze the doughnuts with 1 cup powdered sugar, a 2-3 drops vanilla extract and 1-2 scant drops of almond extract mixed with approximately 2 tablespoons of milk (I use soy.)  The consistency should be only a bit thicker than the milk when done, allowing the doughnuts to be dipped in and left to dry to get that nice crackling glaze finish. That is assuming of course you can hold back the tasters long enough to let the glaze set up.

This recipe makes 6 doughnuts. 

Still more to come, there are lots of flavors and additions yet to try on the path to greatness...

1 comment:

  1. Last week I also ground walnuts into a flour to add to a muffin recipe and it acted exactly as you describe. It's great flavor and the kids don't complain about the crunchy nuts.

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