Doughnuts seem like one of those things that you can't skimp on. It falls in that category of - If you don't fry it, don't bother. I am never deterred by such claims because frying just doesn't appeal to me. It takes the fun out of things by making me and my kitchen smell... fried. Yuck. Heck, I don't even like pan frying anything, as seen in my search for a great crab cake. I've had this recipe for baked doughnuts bookmarked for quite some time now, and rediscovered it yesterday when I was organizing my saved recipes.
In my never ending attempt to avoid white flour, I did some substituting here. The recipe calls for 5 cups of flour, so I did 2 cups white flour, 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, and 1 cup whole wheat flour. I don't know what I was thinking, whole wheat flour does not belong in doughnuts! I should have stuck with equal amounts of the first two, but instead I just have extra hearty doughnuts. Also, the point of not frying is to avoid some fat, so I certainly wasn't going to finish them by dunking them in melted butter. No, no, pure sugar is a much better choice. ;-)
I made a glaze with a cup or so of powdered sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, and enough milk until it was the consistency I wanted. After dipping a few doughnuts, I added cinnamon to the glaze. Yum! I like those doughnuts the best.
These certainly don't take the place of fried doughnuts, and the texture is somewhere between a cake doughnut and one of the really light and fluffy ones. True to form, I overbaked the first batch a bit (pulled them out at 8 minutes - I hate my oven sometimes!). Overall, not a bad treat!
Source: 101 Cookbooks
Don't over bake these, if anything, under bake them a bit - they will continue baking outside the oven for a few minutes. You want an interior that is moist and tender - not dry. Also, be sure to cut big enough holes in the center of your doughnuts - too small and they will bake entirely shut. Remember they rise, and they rise even more when they are baking. These really need to be made-to-order, but you can make and shape the dough the night before if you want to serve them for brunch. Instructions: after shaping, place doughnuts on baking sheet, cover and place in the refrigerator overnight. Pull them out an hour before baking, and let rise in a warm place before baking.
1 1/3 cups warm milk, 95 to 105 degrees (divided)
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup sugar
5 cups all-purpose flour
A pinch or two of nutmeg, freshly grated
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Place 1/3 cup of the warm milk in the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the yeast and set aside for five minutes or so. Be sure your milk isn't too hot or it will kill the yeast. Stir the butter and sugar into the remaining cup of warm milk and add it to the yeast mixture. With a fork, stir in the eggs, flour, nutmeg, and salt - just until the flour is incorporated. With the dough hook attachment of your mixer beat the dough for a few minutes at medium speed. This is where you are going to need to make adjustments - if your dough is overly sticky, add flour a few tablespoons at a time. Too dry? Add more milk a bit at a time. You want the dough to pull away from the sides of the mixing bowl and eventually become supple and smooth. Turn it out onto a floured counter-top, knead a few times (the dough should be barely sticky), and shape into a ball.
Transfer the dough to a buttered (or oiled) bowl, cover, put in a warm place (I turn on the oven at this point and set the bowl on top), and let rise for an hour or until the dough has roughly doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and roll it out 1/2-inch thick on your floured countertop. Most people (like myself) don't have a doughnut cutter, instead I use a 2-3 inch cookie cutter to stamp out circles. Transfer the circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet and stamp out the smaller inner circles using a smaller cutter. If you cut the inner holes out any earlier, they become distorted when you attempt to move them. Cover with a clean cloth and let rise for another 45 minutes.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until the bottoms are just golden, 8 to 10 minutes - start checking around 8. While the doughnuts are baking, place the butter in a medium bowl. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a separate bowl.
Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let cool for just a minute or two. Dip each one in the melted butter and a quick toss in the sugar bowl. Eat immediately if not sooner.