Finally a donut recipe on the blog, so exciting! These slightly glazed orange poppy seed donuts are baked (not fried), have a delicate citrus flavor, and are slightly addictive (understatement).
When I first arrived in Chicago back in August, one of the first thing I did was to review all the donuts of the city. I had never really been fond of donuts before as it is not a common sweet treat in Europe, and it is often linked to junk food, with lots of sugar and unhealthy fat due to the fact that donuts are fried most of the time. The thing is that I don’t really like fried food, that are to me unnecessary unhealthy fat that overtakes the taste of real food. So whenever I can avoid it, I do.
But then my friend Jesse who moved to Chicago before me last year told me about this place, Doughnut Vault, considered as one of the best spot in Chicago to enjoy fresh and delicious doughnuts. As I was new in the city, I decided to give it a go and put all my bad thoughts aside for a moment. Life is all about experiences after all! Surprisingly enough, I found myself enjoying these donuts, that were more on the fancy side, following this trend of making junk food taste great.
Finding this interesting, I started to review the best donuts places in Chicago for a while (yes, I did eat a lot of donuts back then!), tasting different kinds of donuts with different fillings, and once I was done with the tasting part, I wrote an article about the best donuts in Chicago for the French magazine French in Chicago – if you are planning a trip to Chicago, I advice you to go read it.
You might find it strange that I suddenly started to like donuts. I actually discovered that there were two types of donuts: the ones that are fried with a soft, airy, and pillowy texture, and the ones that are baked with a more “cakey” texture. I naturally went for the ones that were baked first, and even today they remain my favorite – especially the old-fashioned ones. I read that we usually tend to like the type we are the most used to. So if as a child you were more used to baked food than fried food, you will certainly prefer the baked donuts (this is exactly my case here).
As they are not soaked into a bath of oil but simply baked in a donut pan, baked donuts are of course healthier than the fried ones, and this is something I value a lot. Nor greasy or fatty, the donut also becomes easier to digest. In this recipe, you use only one single egg, two tablespoons of butter, some sour cream, and not too much of sugar, which makes your donuts less rich than many other cakes (that often imply many eggs, much more butter and/or sugar). So if you are planning to bake donuts, I really recommend you invest in a donut pan, it’s quite cheap and you might find yourself using it a lot, there are so many different donut recipes with different flavors!
When doing my little benchmark of my favorite donuts, I found the one kind that was my absolute favorite, at the donut shop Firecakes, and it was made with orange and poppy seed. I have always been crazy about poppy seed, in breads, in cupcakes with lemon, etc., and somehow I totally understand why it can be banned in some countries that consider it as a drug (I heard it was the case in Singapour). Wait a second, I said I understand but please never forbid poppy seeds in the countries I choose to live in, it would make me extremely sad! And again, it’s all about finding balance in everything in life…
Usually we do everything “lemon and poppy seed”, so I found it interesting to use oranges for a change! You still have this delicious fresh citrus flavor, but a little bit less acidity maybe, and the two of them – orange and poppy seed – happen to pair very well! In the recipe I use two tablespoons of poppy seeds, but you can adjust a little bit depending on your tastes (I would say between one and three tablespoons sounds reasonable).
Then I made the glaze, which is pale and hardly white, as I don’t like to use too much sugar. Here you have just enough of sugar to truly appreciate the sweet taste of the donut without having a “sugar coma” as we call it (when we suddenly have a pic of sugar in our blood). But this is all about personal taste, and if you are more of a sweet tooth, you can still use 1/4 more cup of icing sugar and you will get a lovely white glaze. It’s totally up to you!
I’ve got to leave you now, I talked too much about donuts and all I want now is to prepare myself a huge cup of tea and grab the last one donut from the batch you see in front of you through the screen (yes, they do exist in real life too, hehe). I can’t wait!
- 1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp (30g) butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup (65g) granulated sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) milk*
- ¼ cup (60g) sour cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) orange juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 2 tbsp butter, melted
- ¾ cup (90g) icing sugar
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tbsp orange juice, freshly squeezed
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, poppy seeds, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- In another medium-sized bowl, whisk the melted butter, egg, sugar, milk, sour cream, vanilla, orange juice, and zest until completely combined. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not overmix. The batter will be thick.
- Spoon the batter into the donut cavities, using a large piping bag. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling ¾ of the way full.
- Bake for 9–10 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden. Allow to cool for about two minutes then transfer to a wire rack set on a large piece of parchment paper. Let cool for a couple of minutes.
- Make the glaze: whisk all of the glaze ingredients together. Dip each donut into the glaze and place back on the wire rack as the glaze sets. Enjoy fresh, preferably the same day.