I suppose if I were more of a baker, I might have many more specialty tools and equipment in my kitchen. It seems there is a special baking pan for just about everything – Bundt pans, whoopie pie pans, madeleine pans, springform pans, cupcake pans, mini-muffin tins and more. Since everyone can’t own every single specialty pan or gadget due to limited space, money or interest, I try to find ways to do things by hand or with minimal gadgetry. I’m more of a cook than a baker, always choosing savory over sweet, so I have the bare minimum when it comes to baking equipment – a cake pan, a muffin tin and a brownie pan. When I wanted to make doughnuts, baked instead of fried, I lamented the fact that I do not own a doughnut pan. Doughnuts need to be that specific shape: round, almost flat and with the hole in the middle (though that is optional).
Well, guess what? You can make doughnuts without a doughnut pan. Sure, they won’t come out as perfect and round as they would with a real doughnut pan. Sure, the holes won’t be perfect but they will look very homemade and rustic (isn’t that what you call any dish that looks less than perfect?). But who needs perfect food? Not me. Anyone with a doughnut pan can make a dozen doughnuts that all look alike but my imperfect doughnuts are unique. Each one is a one-of-a-kind creation. If they are all the same size, how can I say, “I’ll have the small one?” How’s that for rationalization? :)
So if you don’t have a doughnut pan, here are three ways to make doughnuts anyway:
1. Use a Muffin Pan
Yes, I know. Muffin pans are not the right shape but you can actually make delicious baked doughnuts in a muffin pan. Cut 9 pieces of foil about 2 inches by 3 inches each. This is a wonderful way to get more use out of used pieces of foil. Roll each piece into a little log with a flat bottom so the log can stand up. The log should be about 1 to 1 ½ inches long. It should be taller than the height of the muffin pan so it is higher than the doughnut will be. These foil logs will help create the holes in the doughnuts. Fill the muffin tins with batter about half-way and then insert the foil logs in the middle to make the holes. Smooth the tops with a spoon.
By using a muffin tin, the doughnuts will look perfect on the top but the bottoms will be a bit more muffin-shaped and muffin-textured. But they will still taste incredible and you can say you created the next craze – the “moghnut” or the “duffin.”
2. Use a Round Mold
If you want your doughnuts to have a more perfectly-rounded shape and not have the muffin bottom, try using a mold. I use the same mold that I use to make burgers. Simply lay a 3 ½ “round mold on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Fill the mold three-quarters of the way (not to the top since the doughnuts will rise). Use a spoon, your fingers or a small round object like a bottle cap to form a hole in the middle of the batter. Make the hole larger than you would think since when the doughnut cooks, the hole will close up a bit. Smooth the batter to form a round doughnut. Continue until you use up all the batter.
3. Make Them Free-Form
The third option is to throw all the equipment aside and make the doughnuts free-form. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put about 3 heaping spoons of batter on the pan for each doughnut. Use your fingers or an offset spatula to shape the batter into a ring. It will feel like you are making pottery. Create the hold using your finger or a spoon and smooth it out until you have the shape you want. Continue until you use up all the batter.
The mold and free-form methods will give you doughnuts that have the more expected shape. Whichever method you choose, you get light, fluffy, springy doughnuts. It even works with gluten-free doughnut recipes and I am going to share one of mine with you!
My Favorite Gluten-Free Doughnut Recipe:
I love banana bread, so I wanted to make doughnuts that tasted like banana bread with a peanut butter glaze.
To make my Vegan and Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Glazed Banana Doughnuts: preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a mug, combine 1 tsp. egg replacer with 3 Tbs. warm water. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. In another mug, combine ½ cup non-dairy milk and ½ tsp. vinegar to make vegan buttermilk. In a large bowl, combine 1 ¼ cup gluten-free, all-purpose flour, ½ tsp. xanthan gum (if it’s not in your flour blend), 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, ¼ cup sugar, ¼ cup brown sugar, ½ tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. ground cinnamon, and ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg. In another bowl, combine 3 Tbs. melted coconut oil, the egg replacer mix, the buttermilk and 1 tsp. vanilla. Whisk until everything is combined and smooth. Add 1 ripe mashed banana to the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. It should be a thick batter and will make 9 doughnuts.
If you are using a doughnut pan, oil it and simply fill the cups half-way, smooth the tops and place in the oven. If you are using a muffin pan, make rounded logs with aluminum foil. Fill the muffin tins about half-way and insert the foil log in the middle to make the hole. Smooth the tops with a spoon. If you want to make the doughnuts with a mold, place a ring on the parchment paper lined baking sheet and fill the mold half-way to three-quarters high with batter. Use a spoon, your fingers or a small round object to make the hole. Smooth the batter with a spoon to form the right shape. If you want to make the doughnuts free-form, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of batter onto the baking sheet and smooth with a spoon to form a ring. Use the spoon, your fingers or a small round object like a bottle cap to form a hole in the middle of the batter. Smooth the batter to form a round doughnut. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning the pans around halfway through. Times may vary but gluten-free baking usually takes longer. While the doughnuts are baking, prepare the glaze. When the doughnuts are lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean, remove from the oven and let cool.
How to Make Doughnut Glaze:
Nothing could be better than a gluten-free and vegan banana bread doughnut than one with a vegan peanut butter glaze on top. To make the Peanut Butter Glaze: in a small saucepan, combine 2 Tbs. non-dairy milk and 2 Tbs. peanut butter and cook on low heat while stirring until it is smooth. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and continue to stir until you have a thin glaze. Remove from the heat and mix in ½ tsp. vanilla. Place the saucepan atop a bowl of hot water so it keeps warm. Dip the top of each cooled doughnut into the glaze and place on a cooling rack that is over a baking sheet to catch the drips. Allow the glaze to harden, about 5-10 minutes. If the glaze starts to harden in the bowl, simply reheat the glaze until it is smooth again.
More Vegan Doughnut Recipes
One Green Planet has lots of amazing doughnut recipes that you can try making in a doughnut pan or with any of these methods above. Try my Gluten-Free Pumpkin-Spiced Glazed Doughnuts for soft, tender doughnuts with the warm flavors of autumn topped with a sweet pumpkin glaze. Chocolate lovers must try these Healthy Chocolate Doughnuts, Easy Baked Doughnuts, and Chocolate Caramel Doughnuts. For doughnuts with delicious fruity flavors, try these Raspberry White Wine Glazed Doughnuts, Baked Blueberry Doughnuts and these Apple Protein Doughnuts. Other decadent ideas include these Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Cake Batter Doughnuts, and S’mores Doughnuts. Don’t think we forgot the doughnut holes because we have these adorable Pumpkin Spice Doughnut Holes too!
It always makes me happy to know I can make incredible desserts without having to buy a lot of specialized equipment and gadgets. Maybe I’ll get a doughnut pan for the holidays this year but in case I don’t, I won’t be missing out on making my own delicious vegan doughnuts!
Image Sources: Rhea Parsons