Your quest for perfect vegan donuts ends here. You’ve reached the Holy Grail. And no, we’re not just being cocky – we are serious donut enthusiasts who would never publish a recipe that doesn’t meet all of our nitpicky requirements for what entails a “perfect donut.” The road to this recipe was laden with numerous trials, pounds of flour, hours of online searching, and lots of taste testing (our personal favorite tribulation). By trying to get our doughnuts as tender, light, and fluffy as the one’s from LA’s most famous vegan donut shop, Donut Friend, we’ve finally reached a product that we’re beyond proud to put out to the world. Our opinion? This is the last donut recipe you’ll ever need.
That’s right Donut Friend, we don’t need to ball out on your sweets anymore to get our fix anymore, because now everyone from Los Angeles to Tokyo can experience donut bliss.
Now that you understand how confident we are about this recipe, let’s discuss how we reached this point. As you can imagine, a good bit of science, trial and error, and good ‘ole research were involved, so we’re going to share every little tip and secret we discovered along the way!
I suppose we should talk about some of that science stuff, right? One of the biggest problems we ran into during our first few test trials was that our donuts kept on coming out bready. Lots of cooks make their doughs with bread flour or a touch of vital wheat gluten, both of which lead to chewier, tougher donuts. People likely do this because more gluten content results in a dough that catches more yeast bubbles and is easier to work with. However, if you’re anything like us, you want donuts so soft that they give lightly into your fingers when you pick them up, which simply isn’t achievable with the extra gluten.
After a few trials, we moved onto good ‘ole all-purpose flour, but they were still coming out too tough for our liking. The results were more like a $2 donut than a $4 donut. The solution? Less gluten, which meant we were going to need a softer flour. Behold: cake flour, the answer to our tough donut problems and the pathway to delicate, melt-in-your-mouth joy.
Albeit, cake flour is only part of the solution – the other ingredient required for airy donuts is completely free: time. After the dough’s shaped into rings, it’s imperative that they proof until they’re doubled in size, which can take up to another hour. During this time, the yeast blows bubbles into the dough, which creates air pockets, more volume, and an homogenous, spongy network throughout. One hour has never been so valuable – donut rush this part.
See what we did there? No? Alright, moving on then! This part is fairly simple, and it will have many of you thinking “no duh,” but warm liquids equal a faster rise. In fact, if our liquid ingredients were cold, the dough would hardly rise. For that reason, we heat our coconut oil and milk together on the stove and use warm water to activate our yeast, that way all the liquids sit around 120° F, which is the perfect temperature for yeast to do its thing.
Drinking game idea: take a shot every time we say “perfect” in this post. We count three so far.
Speaking of yeast, this recipe was made before we had discovered the convenience of instant yeast, which doesn’t have to be “activated” before it goes into a dough. So, if you’re using instant yeast in place of active dry yeast, mix it straight into the dry ingredients and add the water right into the dough. Boom! Five minutes saved.
For the first few trials, our dough kept on emerging so rich that it was almost cakey. While we thought it would need ample amounts of fat to keep things soft, it turns out that too much oil or coconut milk simply makes the resulting doughnuts greasy. Time after time, we reduced the amount of fat in the recipe, which eventually led us to the fluffy texture we desired. Don’t get us wrong, richness is great for cakes, but we’re not here to make cake donuts, because cake donuts are nothing more than ring-shaped cupcakes.
We also experimented with several different egg replacers, but similarly to the fat content, we found that less is more. Flax eggs added a slight gumminess, made the doughnuts too rich, and dotted them with brown flecks, which isn’t exactly what we had in mind. In the end, all we needed was two tablespoons of aquafaba to add some stability and structure to the dough. Hooray for miraculous bean juice!
That about covers the geeky side of things, which might leave you wondering “what about glazes and fillings?” To which we say, the choice is yours – you can keep it OG with a classic vanilla glaze or you can spice things up with some extravagant flavors and textures. Truthfully, the options are limitless, as donuts are one of the most versatile culinary bases to build upon. In the recipe, we show you a fancy combo that’ll give your tastebuds the impression that you’re eating at a high-end, Dominique Ansel-esq bakery. We call it Bourbon Brown Sugar Brittle Glaze with a Maple Cream Cheese Filling, but you can call it perfection for short.
Does perfection count? We think it does. Bottoms up folks!
Alright, before we let you go crazy in the kitchen, we want to let you know that we appreciate you supporting what we do with your views, comments, follows, and – best of all – effort in recreating our dishes at home. When it comes to recipes like these, we pour days worth of time into the kitchen, spend too many dollahs on groceries, and endure many hair-pulling moments of “is this ever gonna work?” but when we’re rewarded with a creation that lights up every little nerve in our body with electricity, we know it was all worth it. We’re ecstatic for you to try these out for yourself!
If you like what your eyes are tasting, then share this recipe with your friends on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest at @noeggsorham! For more flame-emoji photos, geeky food talk, and mouth-watering dishes, subscribe to our email list. Tag us in a photo when you create one of our recipes at home so we can share it!
Donut give up; reach for the holy stars!
Perfect Vegan Raised Donuts with Bourbon Brown Sugar Brittle Glaze with Maple Cream Cheese Filling
Soft, airy, and melt-in-your-mouth yeast donuts with a thin glaze and comforting filling.
- 12-14 oz cake flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 oz warm water (120° F)
- 3 tbsps (27 grams) powdered sugar
- 1 package active dry yeast or 2 ¼ tsps instant yeast
- 2 oz full-fat coconut milk
- 1.25 oz coconut oil
- 1 oz (2 tbsps) aquafaba (liquid from can of chickpeas)
- 1/2 gal refined oil
Bourbon Brown Sugar Brittle Glaze
- 6 tbsps (72 grams) brown sugar
- 1 oz (2 tbsps) bourbon
- small pinch of salt
Maple Cream Cheese Filling
- Doughnuts: In a small bowl, combine active dry yeast with warm water (~120° F) and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar. Allow to activate until lightly foamy; about 5 minutes. If using instant yeast, skip this step, mix your yeast with dry ingredients, and add water and sugar in with the wet ingredients in Step 4.
- Melt oil with coconut milk in a small pan over low heat until warm to the touch (120° F). Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand-up mixer along with aquafaba. Beat on medium speed with paddle attachment until frothy; about 1 minute.
- Add in yeast mixture, 10 oz of flour, salt, and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until dough starts to come together; about 2 minutes.
- Switch over to a dough hook and slowly add in enough flour for dough to form a ball. It should be very moist, but not so sticky that it clings to your fingers. The amount of flour needed will differ from day to day, so use your best judgement here.
- Once you’ve reached a good consistency, knead on medium-high for 3 minutes. Remove from hook, form into a ball, lightly oil your mixer bowl, and place back in bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and store in a warm spot until doubled in size; about 1 hour.
- Gently push air out of dough, plop onto a clean surface coated in a light layer of cake flour, and roll until it’s about 3/8 inches thick.
- To cut them into shape, you can use a variety of things: 1.) A 2 ½ inch pastry ring for the outside and a 7/8 inch ring for the center 2.) A doughnut cutter 3.) A wide-mouthed mason jar lid with a small shot glass for the middle (which is what we used).
- Place donuts and donut holes on lightly floured cookie sheets, cover with plastic wrap or tea towels, and allow to rise until doubled in size; 45-60 minutes.
- When time’s almost up, heat oil in a large dutch oven over high heat until temperature reaches 375° F. Once ready, gently drop two donuts into the oil and cook for 35 seconds per side; should be beige in color.
- Transfer to an upside down cooling rack on top of an inverted cookie sheet with a layer of paper towels in between to wick away oil. Repeat steps 10 and 11 for remaining donuts and donut holes.
- Filling: In the bowl of a stand-up mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a medium mixing bowl with an electric hand whisk, beat together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and maple flavoring until creamy. Store in fridge until ready to use.
- Glaze: Combine brown sugar, bourbon, and salt in a small pot. Bring to a heavy simmer over medium heat until sugar’s completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.
- Dip donuts in glaze as soon as they’re cool enough to handle, then place back on cooling rack. Slice donut in half and fill with desired amount of maple cream cheese. Enjoy within 12 hours for best results.
*If you’re feeling a simple glaze instead of the bourbon brown sugar, whisk together 1/2 c sifted powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of warm soy milk, and 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract until smooth.