Let Them Eat Cake … Doughnuts

These homemade delights are the perfect bite-sized indulgence.

They don’t call it Fat Tuesday for nothing. The day of revelry before the austere Christian observance of Lent is known as much for its merrymaking as it is for indulgence in calorie-laden foods, especially doughnuts.  As long as there’s been hot oil for frying, doughnuts in one form or another have been consumed by cultures around the globe, but chains like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts have established the modern doughnut as a quintessentially American product.  Whether it’s Fat Tuesday, Fastnacht Day, or just a Friday, doughnuts are versatile little pillows of happiness that can be gilded indefinitely or enjoyed with nothing more than a dusting of powdered sugar, straight from the fryer.

Apple Cider Doughnuts with Apple-Maple Glaze

by Matt Coats, Mama Crockett’s, Lynchburg, (*now converted to a food truck*)

Mama Crockett’s is known for one kind of doughnuts, made with fresh apple cider, dusted with cinnamon sugar, and served warm. Chef Matt Coats updated his recipe to include a maple-laced glaze for a scratch-made confection you can whip up at home.

  • 1 ½ cups apple cider
  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons real maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons milk
  • salt

Boil the apple cider in a small sauce pan on high heat, stirring occasionally until reduced by half. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease two six-cavity doughnut pans with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and nutmeg, and whisk to combine. Set aside. Cream 10 tablespoons of the butter with the brown sugar and ¼ cup of the granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, and mix until well incorporated after each addition, scraping the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, and mix on low speed until incorporated. With the mixer running, add ½ cup of the apple cider reduction in a slow, steady stream and mix to combine. Reserve the remaining ¼ cup of cider for the glaze. Spoon the batter into the prepared doughnut pans, filling them about ⅔ full. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the thickest portion comes out clean, about 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.

While the doughnuts bake, whisk the remaining granulated sugar and remaining cinnamon together in a small bowl. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining butter. Let the doughnuts cool for 5 minutes after baking, then remove them from the pans, brush with the melted butter, and dredge them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still warm. Mix together the remaining apple cider reduction with the powdered sugar, maple syrup, milk, and a pinch of salt, stirring until smooth. If mixture is too thin, add a little more powdered sugar; if the mixture is too thick, add more milk. Dip tops of doughnuts in glaze and allow to cool until glaze sets up.

Variation: For plain cake doughnuts, substitute ½ cup milk for the apple cider and omit the cinnamon and nutmeg.

Makes 8 to 10 doughnuts

Matt Coats lives in Richmond with his wife, three daughters, and four chickens. He previously owned an ice cream cart called Salty’s Ice Cream. He currently works as a recipe consultant for Mama Crockett’s and runs a small custom knife-making shop.   

Classic Yeast Doughnuts

by Stephanie Ganz

Whether you prefer plump jelly-filled doughnuts or crisp rings glazed with brightly colored toppings, this recipe will help you make the doughnuts of your dreams. 

  • 1 ½ cups seedless jam (optional)
  • ¾ cup warm milk
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest (omit for ring-style doughnuts)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 6 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, for dusting

Place jam in a piping bag fitted with a large tip and set aside. Fit a stand mixer with with a dough hook and place milk, yeast, and sugar in the bowl; let sit for 5 minutes until it begins to froth. Combine the flour, zest, and salt in a separate small bowl. When the milk mixture is ready, add the flour mixture, butter, and egg yolks, and mix on medium speed for 5 to 8 minutes, until a smooth ball of dough forms. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to proof in a warm place for about an hour, or until the dough almost doubles in size. Sprinkle flour onto a work surface, turn out the dough, and roll it to ½-inch thick. Use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut rounds. Pipe a dollop of jam in the center of half of the rounds, cover the jam with a second round, and seal well. (Variation: To make ring-style doughnuts, cut the rounds and then punch out smaller holes in the center, reserving the centers to make doughnut holes. Omit the jam step.) Cover with a kitchen towel and proof for another 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a Dutch oven. Line a cookie tray with paper towels. Fry two doughnuts at a time, turning them as they brown. Place cooked doughnuts on the paper towels. Allow to cool slightly and then sift powdered sugar over the top of the filled doughnuts. Top ring-style doughnuts with frosting or glaze as desired. Enjoy the same day.

Variation: For rustic cream-filled doughnuts, simply fry the unfilled rounds. Let cool, then cut partially open and pipe in premade custard.

Makes 8 to 10 doughnuts


There’s nothing like a freshly baked or fried doughnut … unless it’s a doughnut layered with your favorite combination of frosting, glaze, and sprinkles. Try classic combos like blueberry and lemon, or set out an assortment and let your family create their own.  


  • crushed candy
  • crushed cookies
  • minced fruit
  • sprinkles
  • chopped nuts


  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 4 tablespoons milk

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, butter, and vanilla; beat with the paddle attachment until combined. Gradually incorporate the powdered sugar, scraping down the bowl of the mixer as necessary and alternating adding tablespoons of milk, until all ingredients have been incorporated. Apply with a knife or offset spatula.


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir ingredients to combine. Add more milk (or sugar) as needed to create a slightly runny glaze. Apply with a spoon or pour into a pastry bag fitted with a fine writing tip.

Glaze Variations: 

For chocolate, add 1 to 2 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate. 

For coffee, substitute strong coffee or espresso for milk. 

For peanut butter, add ¼ cup melted peanut butter and ⅛ teaspoon salt. 

For lemon, lime, or orange, substitute fresh juice for milk and zest for vanilla. 

For spice, add ½ teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. 

For cherry, substitute sour cherry juice for milk and almond extract for vanilla. 

For blueberry, substitute ½ cup blueberries for milk and lemon juice for vanilla, and add a pinch of salt; combine all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. 

For raspberry, strawberry, and other fruit flavors, substitute ¼ cup warm jam for milk and lemon juice for vanilla; taste and add ½ teaspoon almond extract if desired. 

For caramel, combine ½ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup cream, ¼ cup butter, and ⅛ teaspoon salt; bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then remove from heat and cool slightly before beating in 1 to 1 ½ cups powdered sugar.

This article originally appeared in our February 2020 issue. Prefer to trust the professionals rather than fry them up yourself? Consult our list of shops here.

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