Oh, gosh. There is so much to say about these baked chocolate cake donuts with lavender glaze that I hardly know where to begin. I first thought about developing such a recipe for these pretties when browsing through one of my cookbooks, which is honestly where inspiration is often found. I adore donuts – like they are basically my favorite food group. And although I usually dig yeasted and fried donuts, when I stumbled upon a recipe for baked chocolate cake ones, I paused.
Sign me up!
Now just to make sure we are all on the same page, a cake donut is made from a batter or dough that is very much like one for muffins or tea bread or cake. And texturally speaking, that is what the finished donut is like – and thus very different from its yeasted brethren (which are more airy and light and pillow-y). I love making yeasted fried donuts, but not necessarily ones of the chocolate variety. My fave is probably a yeasted glazed vanilla – and honestly shaking things up and making chocolate ones has never even occurred to me (even though, I am very much team chocolate). I mean why mess with a good thing? But a chocolate cake donut? That sounded like something I could get behind. And one that was baked? With no need for a vat of hot oil and a pesky thermometer? Well, sign me right up.
Because here’s the thing: besides sounding delicious (think über fudgy, dense – in a good way – loaf cake, with a tight, moist crumb) baked cake donuts are about a trillion times easier to make than yeasted, fried donuts. There is no stand mixer involved and no tedious creaming of butter (oil makes for the most scrumptious of cake donuts). The whole recipe is assembled with nothing more than two bowls, a whisk and a spatula. And literally comes together in about five minutes. The donuts then bake for less than ten – which means you might just be eating donuts within about 20 minutes of craving them.
Let me walk you through it
First, you whisk the dry ingredients and set them aside in a bowl. Though, honestly, if you wanted this to be a “one-bowl” recipe as it were, my personal favorite, you could just sift the dry ingredients over the wet at the end of the assembly process, and skip using this bowl altogether. You then whisk your wet ingredients together in another bowl, staring with the oil and sugars and then moving on to the eggs. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk and voilà: you are done. Transfer the batter to a donut pan – though if you do not have one and do not want to invest in one, a muffin tin will work – and bake for about eight to ten minutes until the donuts feel dry to the touch and spring back when you press one with your fingers.
The glaze comes together – dare I say – instantly: just confectioners’ sugar plus buttermilk and a bit of salt and color. I like a thick, vibrantly colored glaze, but you may add more buttermilk for a thinner, less bright glaze.
Bottom line: the recipe is easy-peasy and the resultant donuts are bound to become your new go-to sweet treat – and certainly would make a lovely addition to an Easter morning feast.
For the chocolate donuts:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
For the glaze:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
6 tbsp buttermilk, or more as needed
A few drops red gel food coloring
A few drops blue gel food coloring
- To make the donuts, preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a donut pan with cooking spray or softened butter.
- Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
- Place the oil, the sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the egg and yolks, one at a time, and continue whisking until smooth.
- With a flexible spatula, gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in three additions and the buttermilk in two, beginning and ending with the dry.
- Fill each donut mold about 3/4 of the way full with batter.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating at the halfway point, until a toothpick comes out with a moist crumb or two and the donut springs back when you press it.
- Let cool slightly and then remove from the pan to cool completely.
- To make the glaze, combine all of the glaze ingredients in a small, shallow bowl and whisk until smooth and fully incorporated, adding more buttermilk if necessary, or sugar, until pourable and thick, and adjusting the food coloring until the purple color is to your liking.
- To glaze the donuts, dip one side of each donut into the glaze and then lift it out, allowing the excess glaze to drip back into the bowl. Place the glazed donuts, glaze side up on a drying rack set inside a cookie sheet until set.
- The glazed donuts are best enjoyed the day they are made.
Jessie is a baker and cookbook author; you can learn more about her through her website jessiesheehanbakes.com.