Pumpkin Doughnuts
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Pumpkin Doughnuts and Doughnut Holes

Although this was my first time making them, I’m beginning to think that these warm and spicy pumpkin doughnuts are going to become a fall tradition around here.  Filled with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, and even a hint of cardamom, these doughnuts will warm your soul on a crisp autumn morning.

Have you ever made doughnuts from scratch?  The closest I had ever come to making doughnuts was back in my college days when I learned how to make faux doughnuts (fauxnuts?) by poking holes in refrigerated biscuit dough rounds and frying them up in a skillet.  They were pretty good if you dipped them in sugar and ate them warm, but not quite the real thing.  Ok, not even close.

I have memories of the real thing, though.  You see, my mom made homemade doughnuts for us once.  They were yeast-raised doughnuts, the kind which are lightly glazed or sugar-crusted on the outside, but only slightly sweet and impossibly soft and fluffy on the inside.  Though I was small, and the recollection is a bit fuzzy, I know in my heart that they were the best doughnuts I’ve ever tasted.  While the “hot now” sign at Krispy-Kreme may make your heart flutter, I’m telling you that nothing compares to a doughnut fried up in your own kitchen.  My mom only made doughnuts once that I can recall, but that one memory fills me with so much warmth, I know that I have to make doughnuts from scratch one day for my own children.  Yes, food memories are powerful.

My favorite doughnuts are yeast-raised and glazed, and rarely do I stray from that standard when visiting a local doughnut shop.  But after deciding to make doughnuts at home, I thought it would be best to start with a simple cake doughnut on my first go-round.  And while I generally prefer plain cake doughnuts to flavored ones, I decided to give pumpkin doughnuts a try when I noticed that the leaning tower of organic canned pumpkin that had been perched precariously on my counter since that last trip to Trader Joe’s (when rumors of canned pumpkin shortages briefly got the best of me), was finally threatening to topple and, perhaps, hurt someone.

After looking through several pumpkin doughnut recipes, I chose to use one from Bon Appetit found on Epicurious. And since I can never leave a perfectly good recipe alone, I made a few changes like doubling all the spices and adding a touch of molasses.  I also chose not to add the white glaze, and instead dusted the finished doughnuts lightly with powdered sugar mixed with a bit of pumpkin pie spice.  They were absolutely delicious!

The dough is very sticky when it’s first mixed, so you need to chill it in the refrigerator for a few hours before you can work with it.

Pumpkin Doughnut Batter

The next step reminded me a lot of making biscuits, and in fact I did use a biscuit cutter.  Just dump some of the dough out onto a lightly floured surface,  then pat it out lightly with your hands.

Chilled Pumpkin Doughnut dough

Pumpkin Doughnut Dough Ready to Cut

Since the dough is still rather sticky, even after refrigeration, I dipped the cutter in flour before cutting each round.

Cutting Pumpkin Doughnuts with Biscuit Cutter

Cutting Pumpkin Doughnuts

After you cut out some rounds, it’s time to cut the holes.  I wasn’t sure what to use, since I don’t have a one-inch round cutter like the recipe specified.  But I do have an apple corer, and it worked well, even though the holes were a bit smaller than one inch.  Again, I made sure to dip the apple corer in flour before cutting each hole.

Cutting Pumpkin Doughnut Holes

Cut Doughnuts

When deep-frying, you need to make sure you control the temperature of the oil.  Although it’s hard to keep it at the same exact temperature all the time, you should adjust the heat to try to keep the oil between 365 and 370 degrees as much as possible.  If it’s too cool, the doughnuts will absorb too much oil and if it’s too hot, the doughnuts will brown too fast and the middles won’t be fully cooked.  Make sure you have a thermometer clipped to side of your pan to make it easy to monitor the temperature of the oil.

Deep Frying Pumpkin Doughnut Holes

Cook the doughnuts in batches, without overcrowding the pot.  Adding too many doughnuts at once will cause the oil temperature to drop rapidly, resulting in greasy doughnuts.

Frying the Pumpkin Doughnut Holes

Cook the doughnuts until they are golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon to a tray lined with paper towels.

Pumpkin Doughnuts Ready to be Removed from Oil

Removing Pumpkin Doughnut Holes from Oil

After the doughnut holes have cooled, they can be rolled in cinnamon sugar, or whatever topping you decide to create.

Pumpkin Doughnut Holes with Cinnamon Sugar

I decided that I like these pumpkin doughnuts plain, but I did sprinkle a few with powdered sugar and a dash of pumpkin pie spice.  Perfect!

IMG_7385 - Version 2

Pumpkin Doughnuts
(adapted from Bon Appétit)

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon molasses
1 cup canned pure pumpkin
Canola or Peanut Oil (for deep-frying)

toppings:
1 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
powdered sugar

1. Whisk first 9 ingredients (flour through cardamom) in a medium bowl to blend well; set aside.

2. Using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until well blended (mixture will be a bit grainy). Beat in egg, then yolks, then vanilla. Gradually beat in buttermilk and molasses, then beat in pumpkin, in four additions.

3. Fold the flour mixture into the egg mixture in 4 additions, blending gently after each. Cover the bowl and chill in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

4. Lightly flour two baking sheets.  When dough is well-chilled, lightly flour a work surface.  Starting with about 1/3 of dough, gently press it out to a round that is 1/2- to 2/3-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out dough rounds. Using 1-inch-diameter round cutter, cut out center of each dough round to make doughnuts and doughnut holes.  Arrange doughnuts and holes on the baking sheets as you go.  Gather dough scraps. Press out dough and cut out more dough rounds until all dough is used.  If dough is very sticky, dip the round cutters into flour before cutting each doughnut.

5. Line two baking sheets with several layers of paper towels.  Pour oil into large deep skillet or dutch oven to a depth of 1 1/2 inches. Attach a deep-fry thermometer  to the side of the pot and heat oil to 365°F to 370°F.  Fry doughnut holes in 2 batches until golden brown, turning occasionally, about 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.  Fry doughnuts, 3 or 4 at a time, until golden brown, adjusting heat to maintain temperature, about 1 minute per side.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain.  Cool completely.

While doughnuts are cooling, mix sugar and cinnamon.  Roll doughnut holes in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Lightly dust doughnuts with powdered sugar, if desired.

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62 Comments
  1. Megan Gordon

    Oh my…these look wonderful. I’ve been wanting to try donuts at home for some time now. Bookmarked the recipe!

    3:43 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  2. Amber

    Woman, you’re killing me. I’m off to London, where they just don’t do *anything* pumpkin, and it’ll be at least 3 weeks before I can attempt this. I teared up a bit just looking at your photos. They’re so gorgeous, and you’re gorgeous for sharing your take on the recipe.

    3:53 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  3. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction

    Yum… These donuts look amazing. Your step-by-step pictures are absolutely beautiful!

    3:56 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  4. Phoo-D

    Those tiny donut holes are absolutely adorable! Making a pumpkin variation sounds delicious.

    3:57 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  5. amanda

    mmmmmm being one of the lucky ones who actually got to eat these donuts i can attest that they were DEEELICIOUS! i would have loved to have gotten my hands on some of those donut holes but beggers can’t be chooser’s, right? ;-)

    4:02 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  6. Sassy Molassy

    whoa, this looks amazing. makes you think you could almost get away with eating a donut or five if they have something great for you in them like pumpkin.

    4:02 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  7. The Teacher Cooks

    I have been waiting for these since you were on Twitter about how good they were. They look fantastic. So you know about the Krispy Kreme “hot” sign. My husband has a Krispy Kreme shirt that he works out in. I have missed reading your blog. Don’t stay away so long. Thanks

    4:04 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  8. Lemony Renee'

    Oh, my, these look wonderful and your narrative is wonderful. I have a huge phobia about boiling oil. More power to you, though!

    4:10 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  9. Hänni

    Oh my sweet lord. These are perfection. And its neat how you used your le crueset as a fryer–I hadn’t seen that before.

    4:11 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  10. Alicia

    My god – they look and sound delicious. For some reason frying really scares me – perhaps I need to face my fears and get my doughnut groove on.

    4:16 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  11. The Duo Dishes

    Nope, never made doughnuts. They always looks so good when others make them. Maybe it’d be worth it to investigate a baked version that tastes 100% like the fried ones! :)

    5:23 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  12. Laura

    They look delicious! You inspired me to try them!

    5:41 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  13. Inspired 2 Cook

    These look awesome!

    5:50 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  14. arugulove

    Oh my god, these look delicious. I’m thinking these and some hot cider would be divine.

    7:22 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  15. kickpleat

    These look waaaaaaayyyy too good.

    11:09 pm  Oct 29th, 2009
  16. Bellini Valli

    These are my new favourite!!! Tim Hortons makes a pumpkin cake doughnut too but I am sure homemade is much better!!!

    4:45 am  Oct 30th, 2009
  17. Alta

    Donuts are not my #1 favorite thing in the world, but my-oh-my these look delicious! I think I need to make some. Right now.

    5:11 am  Oct 30th, 2009
  18. Conor @ HoldtheBeef

    Wow. I’m not normally a donut person but these are making my heart go a-flutter! (with either joy, or anticipating impending heart issues from eating too many donuts)

    5:11 am  Oct 30th, 2009
  19. Andy

    They do look delicious. Never even crossed my mind to try making dohnuts – they look really good. Thanks for the step by step instructions too.

    Cheers
    Andy – http://onceuponathyme.wordpress.com

    7:43 am  Oct 30th, 2009
  20. Jacqueline

    I have never in my life made doughnuts, only consumed far too many from other establishments. This posting and the feel-like-I’m-there photos have tipped me over the edge and I’m making these bad boys tomorrow! Thank you for your versatility, adept hands, and creativity. YUM!

    11:18 am  Oct 30th, 2009
  21. Wendy

    I too have wonderful memories of donuts: only my grandmother would make potato donuts whenever we visited! These look positively sinfully delicious and I may have to try this weekend!!

    12:33 pm  Oct 30th, 2009
  22. Angela

    Hmmmm looks good, especially this time of year. I’ve made something similar. I’m going to use your recipe sub with whole wheat flour and splenda brown sugar blend. I also use agave nectar with a bit of maple extract for faux maple syrup or molasses. Then the diabetic (me me) can have her “cake” donut and eat it too!

    2:12 pm  Oct 30th, 2009
  23. Culinary Cory

    Such a cute post. Thanks for including my baked pumpkin donuts to your list.

    7:15 pm  Oct 30th, 2009
  24. Jenny

    MMM. So yeah, whats the deal with the pumpkin shortage? I stocked up and I dont even like it and its in all the shops!!

    I’d love to swap places with amber since I’m not such an enormous fan of pumpkin, I hope she find beas of bloomsbury, they have tons of yummy pumpkin stuff!

    9:27 pm  Oct 30th, 2009
  25. The Redhead Riter

    I think it is against the law to eat them LOL LOL

    Double, double toil and trouble;
    fire burn and cauldron bubble.
    ~ Shakespeare “Macbeth”~

    HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

    you are listed at http://rrbrfood.blogspot.com

    11:33 pm  Oct 31st, 2009
  26. Nella

    Okay, I looked at this and then came back each day and looked again. So, today I made them. Oh My Heavenly Gosh. These were Autumn, day after Halloween, delicious! I took a plate over to the folks and they were loving them. Mr. Wii has been eating them all afternoon and he keeps telling me they are “killer”.

    I will be adding the recipe to my blog…..you and Bon Appetit get top billing. N

    8:47 pm  Nov 1st, 2009
  27. Amber Lee

    I’ve made the dough and it is sitting in my fridge and it’s taking everything I’ve got not to drop it in the pan right now. thanks for sharing!

    9:22 pm  Nov 2nd, 2009
  28. Blogsurfing Saturday : Baking Delights - Baking Tips and Recipes

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    11:28 pm  Nov 7th, 2009
  29. Di

    Yum! I’ve been wanting to make doughnuts, but haven’t gotten around to it yet. I was thinking cider doughnuts, but these may have just moved to the top of the list!

    8:54 pm  Nov 8th, 2009
  30. 6-Week Check In | giverslog.com

    [...] the fall trees and white country fences (thanks for the run, Shanti). We had friends come by for pumpkin doughnuts. And Grandma and Grandpa came to watch the kids sing at church, then sit down with us to squash [...]

    7:55 am  Nov 9th, 2009
  31. heather

    Wonder if I could bake them in my donut pan from King Arthur’s Flour instead of frying?

    Heather

    4:53 pm  Nov 9th, 2009
  32. Jamie’s Recipes | Pumpkin Æbleskiver

    [...] corner, I have been seeing lots of recipes featuring pumpkin pop up. Nicole from Pinch My Salt made pumpkin cake doughnuts that I could not get out of my mind. I have made yeast doughnuts before, and have always wanted to [...]

    10:31 am  Nov 12th, 2009
  33. Chaya

    I want to make doughnuts but I have been afraid of them. They look so doable that you have convinced me to try them. I owe you.

    2:11 pm  Nov 15th, 2009
  34. Heather @ chiknpastry

    Ooooohhhh…. I.will.make.these.this.week. ifnothing else but the fact that i can’t stop thinking about the “hot” sign at krispy kreme that i’ve never even experienced!

    about how many of these lovely treasures does this recipe make? you think i could easily double it ?

    10:17 am  Nov 16th, 2009
  35. Jessica

    Wow. I think I need to make these. I’ve always wanted to make doughnuts at home but never have — these look like the perfect first attempt.

    10:52 am  Nov 16th, 2009
  36. Pumpkin Recipes « Beneficial Farms CSA

    [...] This blog always has wonderful photography and in this recipe, step by step instructions.  This blog adapted it from Bon Appétit. Enjoy. Click here for the link [...]

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    [...] confess I don’t usually do savory pumpkin, but I may have to start making exceptions Pumpkin Doughnuts — Time to make the donuts, indeed. Chocolate Crusted Pumpkin Cheesecake — It’s [...]

    7:36 pm  Nov 19th, 2009
  39. Caroline

    Your first doughnuts and they look spectacularly pefect! Congratulations. I am an admitted doughnut addict. Have never made them at home because I fear… oh I fear that I will never stop.

    9:12 pm  Nov 28th, 2009
  40. Thanksgiving 2009 « Random Reading

    [...] Pumpkin Donuts - These were delicious, especially when dipped in sugar.  We used a biscuit cutter for the donut shape and then the cap from a bottle of water to cut out the center hole. [...]

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  41. Food Friday: Pumpkin Doughnuts | Sundin Photography Blog

    [...] them for yourself with the recipe here Written by Ginette, on January 22nd, 2010 at 3:22 pm. • Click here to leave a [...]

    4:22 pm  Jan 22nd, 2010
  42. Andyra

    WHY do unhealthy things have to look (and taste) so good? I will simply have to make these.

    1:44 pm  Sep 18th, 2010
  43. Crystal

    Made these for work and to welcome in the fall. WOW! THEY ARE AWESOME!! I’m convinced we ate like 10 doughnut holes while we were making them. I work as a waitress and have been actually writing this website down for customers. Fantastic job. I love being a fan of this blog.

    5:48 am  Oct 1st, 2010
  44. Butternut Squash Pudding — Pinch My Salt

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    12:36 pm  Nov 7th, 2010
  45. Sage & Style

    I’m so excited to make these for a Thanksgiving dessert buffet. Between all the pies and truffles I think these will be a nice addition!!!! I’m also glad you amped up the spices … i love these fall flavors.

    7:47 am  Nov 11th, 2010
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  55. sarahlewen

    I knew there was a reason i liked October. Thanks for sharing.

    9:17 pm  Oct 15th, 2012
  56. Debra

    Made this recipe twice. Love Love Love

    5:38 am  Oct 22nd, 2012
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  60. Thanksgiving Breakfast Ideas - Baby Gizmo Blog

    […] Pumpkin Donuts. This recipe from Pinch My Salt is the perfect Thanksgiving breakfast idea for the family on the go. If you don’t have a lot of time to sit down and eat that morning, grab a delicious pumpkin donut and go! I love that you can make these as donuts or donut holes and the cinnamon sugar topping has my mouth watering. […]

    11:15 pm  Nov 18th, 2013
  61. Thanksgiving Breakfast Recipe Ideas - Skinny Not Skinny

    […] Pumpkin Donuts. This recipe from Pinch My Salt is the perfect Thanksgiving breakfast idea for the family on the go. If you don’t have a lot of time to sit down and eat that morning, grab a delicious pumpkin donut and go! I love that you can make these as donuts or donut holes and the cinnamon sugar topping has my mouth watering. […]

    6:53 am  Nov 19th, 2013
  62. stephanie

    Yes these are fantastic, family loved them tonight! Thank you. Happy New Year!

    5:49 pm  Jan 1st, 2014
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