Quest: Vegan Doughnuts, Chocolate

Two more days and another four batches of doughnuts under my belt (literally) and I can definitely say I have learned a bit more about vegan baking. My goal here is to create a doughnut that I'm proud to feed my kids for breakfast, not a deep-fried, sugar-laden pastry that shuts down their metabolism to digest, but a treat that provides at least a portion of the the nutritional support they need for their day. Yesterday I believe I pushed that notion a bit too far. 

One of my worries is that my kids may get sick of eating doughnuts before I perfect the recipes, so yesterday  while three teenage girls were here I decided to test out several ideas. With new blood to aid in the taste testing and consume the leftovers, I made three batches one right after the other. 

Day 4, batch 1:  Apple pie.  This was just bad in almost every way. I knew this would be a grown-up flavor combination anyway, but I really thought they would turn out better than these (lower right hand corner of above picture.) The problem wasn't the flavor, that actually turned out okay, but I mistakenly thought that I might be able to switch out all the flour in the recipe for oats (blending it into a flour in the food processor) all the while contemplating how important gluten development may be to the baked doughnuts structure, turns out that it is pretty significant. This doughnut  had so much going wrong that I cooked it for twice as long as any others and never could get it to set up in the middle. There was no saving these, they went into the garbage.

Day 4, batch 2:  Almond. Personally I felt these were the best of the day, and they could not have been entirely bad since all six were eaten (which is saying a lot since they had nuts on them -see picture upper right.) They were no different than the Nutty Pecan and Almond Doughnuts but I switched out the pecans for almonds, and while I thought the texture was okay, feedback from the family was that it was 'gummy' - a lot like days 1 and 2.  I suspect they were under-cooked, but I need to revisit using almond flour because it has a lot of potential, so more experimentation to get a great almond doughnut is definitely on the to-do list. 

Day 4, batch 3: Chocolate Chocolate Chip (left). These were awful, gross, really yucky...the kids ate them instantly, as soon as they were cool enough to devour and they were gone. I was pushing the health food idea with switching out the wheat flour for oat flour again, this time I added 1/4 cup cocoa and chocolate chips, processing the chocolate chips a bit to break them into a smaller size. It was clear to me in this batch that the problems I had with the apple pie doughnuts were clearly from the use of oats and omitting the flour, so at least in reproducing the same weak cake structure a second time I actually learned something in the process.

Day 5: Chocolate Vegan Doughnuts. Having had such a disastrous day the day before I thought I would play it safe and revisit a working recipe. I admit it does seem a little cheaty resorting to chocolate, but after a day like yesterday, I was looking for an easy win. Of course these were devoured too, but unlike yesterday, these were actually really good, so they get a recipe entry. Note that the frosting on these is intentionally lean, as my goal was to give them the visual enticement, but to minimize the overall sugar content, so spread it thin.

Chocolate Vegan Doughnuts

2 teaspoons vinegar
1 cup milk of choice (I use soy)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
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 vinegar to curdle the milk, then add vanilla.
  3. In the bowl of the food processor, combine all the dry ingredients with the pecans and blend until the nuts have been pulverized and the mixture is 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 another 5 minutes. The doughnuts should feel firm to the touch.
  6. Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan and then remove to a cooling rack. 
  7. Frost doughnuts while still warm (see below.)
Chocolate frosting: This makes a very small amount of frosting, exactly enough for a thin coat on 6 doughnuts, if you want a thicker frosting double the recipe.

1 1/2 Tablespoon milk of choice
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup chocolate chips

Microwave all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl 20-30 seconds. Stir until smooth and lightly frost each doughnut while still a bit warm.

This recipe makes 6 doughnuts.