Baked Jelly Donuts

Yup, these babies are baked -- not fried.
Yup, these babies are baked — not fried.

Who doesn’t love a fresh, warm jelly donut?

But making them at home can seem like way more trouble than they’re worth. Better to just buy a bunch at your favorite donut shop, right?

Wrong.

Leave it to San Jose’s Beth A. Lee, founder of the OMG! Yummy blog to devise a recipe for a baked version that’s really not much more difficult than making biscuits.

The recipe is from her new cookbook, “The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook: 50 Traditional Recipes for Every Occasion” (Rockridge Press), of which I received a review copy.

The book includes 50 recipes, each of which are handily labeled as to whether they are dairy-free, nut-free, gluten-free, pareve, or vegan, too.

Enjoy everything from “Deli-Style No-Knead Rye Bread” and “Ready-For-Lox Homemade Bagels” to “Blintz Casserole” and “Pecan and Raisin Schnecken.”

The dough for the donuts is mixed in a bowl before being kneaded by hand for all of 2 minutes. Then, it’s left to rise, before being cut out into rounds that are then allowed to rise once again. The recipe suggests using a 2 1/2-inch diameter round cutter. Mine was actually 2 3/4-inch in diameter, so I ended up with only 11 donuts, not the 14 to 16 the recipe states. Either way, these are more petite donuts, not the massive ones found at most donut shops.

I coated some in regular sugar, and some in sugar mixed with cinnamon and cardamom.
I coated some in regular sugar, and some in sugar mixed with cinnamon and cardamom.

They get baked for all of 10 minutes, then get brushed with melted butter, before being tossed in sugar to coat. The melted butter is key because it gives that hint of fatty richness you’d get from frying.

Of course, you'll want one of each.
Of course, you’ll want one of each.

I experimented a little by coating half the donuts in plain sugar, then the remaining ones in cinnamon-cardamom sugar. All I did was shake the ground spices into the bag, tossed well to incorporate, then continued coating the donuts, one by one.

Once all of the donuts are blanketed with sugar, cut a small slit in each, and pipe in your favorite jam. I used raspberry.

Still warm, they are addictive.
Still warm, they are addictive.

Take a bite and you’ll be hard pressed to know these were baked, not deep-fried. They are fluffy and tender, and sweetly satisfying. Mine were not quite as airy as I might like, so next time, I think I’ll try letting them rise longer or even overnight in the fridge.

For purists, Lee also includes directions for frying them, if you so choose. Let’s face it, though, these donuts are not health food by any means, even if you bake them. But they are definitely easier and less messy made that way. And whether you’re making a batch to honor the miracle of oil for Hanukkah or just jonesing for a very good donut, they definitely delight.

Fill with your favorite jam and enjoy.
Fill with your favorite jam and enjoy.

Baked Or Fried Jelly Donuts (Soufganiyot)

(Makes 11 to 16 donuts)

For the dough:

2 1/4 cups (281 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and kneading

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams/1 packet) active dry or instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 cup warm milk (105 to 115 degrees)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more to oil the bowl

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest or orange zest

For baking/frying:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (if baking)

Vegetable oil (if frying)

1 cup granulated sugar

For the filling:

3/4 cup seedless jam

Mix: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Add the milk, oil, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest (if using), and mix with a wooden spoon until a rough, wet dough forms.

Knead: Place the dough on a well-floured surface, dust the top of the dough with flour, and knead for about 2 minutes. If it remains sticky while kneading, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time. It should be tacky but not too sticky to knead.

Rise: Oil the bowl you just used and place the dough back inside. Cover with a towel and let it rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Roll the dough: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2-inch thick.

Cut the donuts: Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out as many rounds as you can and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining scraps and repeat. You should have 11 to 16 rounds total.

Second rise: Cover the baking sheet with a kitchen towel and let the donuts rise until they puff up slightly, about 30 minutes, depending on the temperature of your kitchen.

TO BAKE THE DONUTS (METHOD 1):

Prep for baking: While the donuts rise, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bake: After the donuts have risen, bake them for about 10 minutes, until golden. While the donuts bake, melt the butter. When the donuts come out of the oven, brush each of the donuts with the melted butter. Proceed immediately to “Finish the donuts” directions.

TO DEEP-FRY THE DONUTS (METHOD 2):

Prep for frying: Add vegetable oil to a medium pot, at least 2 inches deep. Heat the oil to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Deep-fry: Place a few donuts at a time in the hot oil, avoiding overcrowding. Fry for 1 minute on one side, then flip and fry on the second side for 1 minute, until golden brown. This is a fast process, so watch carefully. Once fried, transfer the donuts to the prepared baking sheet. Proceed immediately to “Finish the donuts” directions.

To finish the donuts:

Coat the donuts: Place the sugar in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Working one at a time, place each donut in the bag of sugar, seal shut, and shake it around to coat the donut. Return the donut to the baking sheet. Repeat with all donuts. Note: If you like, after you’ve coated half the number of donuts, you can add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon plus 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom to the sugar in the bag. Give it a good shake to incorporate well. Then, proceed to coat the remaining donuts in the cinnamon-cardamom sugar, one at at time.

Fill donuts: Fit a piping bag (or plastic bag) with a decorating tip with a 1/4-inch-wide opening. Fill the bag with the jam of your choice. Using a paring knife, cut a 1-inch horizontal slit in the side of each donut, slicing through to the center. Place the decorating tip in the hole and squeeze until the jam starts to ooze out of the donut (some spillage is okay). Repeat with the remaining donuts. The donuts taste best if served immediately, but they will maintain their freshness for several hours.

Adapted from “The Essential Jewish Baking Cookbook” by Beth A. Lee

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6 comments

  • Wow! We’ve baked plain donuts before, but never filled. What an outstanding recipe! This looks wonderful — thanks so much.

  • Hi John: Yes, it was a very fun recipe to try. And it’s great to know one can make yeasty donuts at home without fussing with frying.

  • I’m thinking that with your “maybe let rise longer, even overnight in the refrigerator” these could be a wonderful surprise for the Christmas morning family feed. Would you recommend that possible refrigeration be done during the first or second phase of rising?

    Also, how many times between now and Christmas morning would you suggest that I pre-test the recipe…you know, just to be sure I’ve got all the nuances figured out?

  • Hi Carroll: I would refrigerate after the first rise. The second rise will take much longer, owing to the coldness of the dough right out of the fridge. I’d say probably 90 minutes or longer. As for how many times you should test it before Christmas, well, at least once. But hey, if you want to test it multiple times between now and then just to be 100 percent sure you got it right, I won’t tell. LOL

  • Ooh, these look delicious! I have always stuck to making baked donuts because I don’t like frying anything, so I might add try making these. It seems similar to making baked beignets.

  • Hi Joanna: I’ve never tried baked beignets, but I would think the idea is similar. Now, you’ve got me hankering to try my hand at some baked beignets, too. Happy baking!

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