Chocolate Cake Donuts with Chocolate Crackle Glaze

. All right, fellow friends and bloggers, I need your help.

With donuts.

Probably weren't expecting that, huh?

This weekend I set aside some time for baking and nothing else.  No work.  No pups.  No boyfriend.  Just a few hours that I could spend in the kitchen doing something I truly enjoy and haven't had as much time lately, as I would like, to devote to it.  I wanted to try my hands at something that took a little more attention, a goodie that I've been putting off for just a day like this.  Narrowing down my options actually wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be.  Thankfully (but still mourning), the misfortune of Borders, I snagged three new baking books [all for $80!] a couple of weeks ago that I still hadn't tried out yet.  Not even one measly recipe.  So whatever I was doing, it was coming from one of these three books.

And then I saw it.  One of my new gems, The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco, had the most mouthwatering pictures of donuts [or doughnuts, as the book calls them], I had ever seen.  Thick, fluffy, cakey, chocolate donuts, with drips of chocolatey glaze running down the sides.  Irresistible?  I think so.  I'd wanted to try homemade donuts for longer than I could remember, and here was my chance!

Hmmmm.  Somewhere, something went wrong.  Because I definitely did not end up with donuts looking or tasting like my above description.  I mean, certain elements turned out great.  But my donut-making skills are in need of some fine tuning.

Here's what I think happened.  And please keep in mind I've never made donuts before, so don't laugh...

  • I rolled my dough out way too thin.  The directions said to roll the batter out to about 3/4-inch thick.  Mine were easily less than 1/2-inch.  This pretty much doomed every succeeding step, huh?
  • The recipe specified a high-sided skillet [which I have a skillet, but not sure if it was 'high' enough], so I just used one of my basic pans.  Since it was smaller [and I didn't want to overwhelm myself], I only fried one donut at a time.  The recipe also said to fry three at a time, but I'm not sure if this makes a difference?
  • The peanut oil was way too hot to begin with.  I fried the first donut for about 45 seconds [total] and let's just nicely say that it looked like a piece of coal.  I rechecked the temperature of the peanut oil and the gauge flew off the charts.  Whoops.  Once I got the temperature down and lessened the frying time to about 30 seconds [total], the donuts turned out much better.
I had to show the burnt donut because it's quite comical!
  • But remember how I scorched that first donut?  Well, after tasting, both Robbie and I agreed there was a little char-taste to everything.  Uh, gross.  I HATE char.  Can't stand it.  Never will.  Especially on a supposedly sweet donut.  Did I ask for grilled donuts?  I don't think so.  I know, mom, you will beg to differ [she's one of those people who likes burnt marshmallows].  But char is not welcome in my world.  Anywho, I'm not sure if that char taste was due to the first burnt donut or if I simply kept the donuts frying too long?
All in all, I think my biggest mistake was rolling out the dough too thin.  Everything had to be adjusted from there on out and I obviously didn't handle that loop too well.  Dang it.  

You can see that I made a few mistakes, so I need some donut-making advice ASAP!  What's the best thickness to roll out the dough?  What's the best oil to use [peanut, vegetable]?  What's the best type of pan to use?  How do you know when a donut is done frying?  Should you swap out the oil if you burn any of the donuts?  Is there a reason why the donuts were a tad bit oily?  HELP!

Now don't let my donut troubles steer you away, the recipe itself is fantastic.  I can vouch for this because even though we had slightly charry-tasting donuts, the insides were absolutely wonderful.  Like the picture I described, the insides were subtly chocolatey, light, and fluffy.  And the glaze that I have yet to mention?  Perfection.  Completely rich and so simple, rounding out the chocolatey goodness to a 'T.'  So no fault goes to the recipe, only to my amateur novice pre-beginner-donut-maker mistakes.  

So if anyone can offer me any advice, I would greatly appreciate it.  Or if anyone tests out this recipe, please tell me about your experience, what you did differently, etc.  I'm desperate to hear because I will be trying these out again.  I won't let the donuts defeat me.

From The Craft of Baking

3 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1-3/4 c. cake flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 c. plus 1 tbsp. buttermilk
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk

Chocolate Crackle Glaze:
1 c. powdered sugar
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt

Peanut Oil, for frying

1.  In heatproof bowl, melt chocolate and butter together until smooth; set aside.

2.  In large bowl, whisk together 1 cup flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  

3.  In separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and egg yolk.

4.  Make well in center of dry ingredients.  Pour in buttermilk mixture, and using a spatula, fold two or three times.  Add the chocolate mixture and fold together until dough is smooth and shiny. Sift the remaining 3/4 cup flour over the mixture and fold to combine well.

5.  Transfer dough to large piece of waxed paper.  Place second sheet of waxed paper on top and roll out dough between the paper to 10x12-inch oval, about 3/4-inch thick.  Set the dough, still between waxed paper, on baking sheet and freeze until firm enough to cut (about 30 minutes).

6.  Remove dough from freezer and remove top sheet of waxed paper.  Dust dough with flour and replace waxed paper.  Flip over dough; remove the now top sheet of waxed paper. 

7.  Lightly coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.  Using a floured 3-inch cookie cutter (or inverted drinking glass), cut out donuts.  Cut out centers with floured 1-inch cookie cutter.  Transfer donuts and donut holes to baking sheet.  Re-roll scraps and repeat to make 10 donuts and 10 donut holes.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 1 day.

8.  Before frying, prepare glaze by whisking together powdered sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and salt in wide, shallow bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons hot water and whisk until smooth (glaze will be thick).  Set aside.

9.  In large high-sided skillet or wide pot, heat 2 inches of oil to 350°F.  Working in batches of 3, fry donuts about 45 seconds per side or until cooked through (fry donut holes about 35 seconds per side).  Transfer donuts to paper towels to drain and immediately dip one side of donuts into glaze.  Transfer to rack, glaze side up, and let sit until glaze sets (about 3 minutes).  

Yield: 10 donuts and 10 donut holes


  1. Hi Jess!
    I can't believe that they didn't turn out well because they look delicious!
    I've only made doughnuts a few times myself, so I'm not sure how much I can help. But, I'm guessing that maybe you're right, and the dough was just rolled out too thin. Rolling dough is a pain, especially in the summer, and especially when all logic flies out the window and you can't remember if a 1/2-inch is bigger or smaller than 3/4...Based on many bad experiences, I now always keep a ruler handy.
    As far as the charred taste, I've been there too. The thing about frying is that the oil holds a grudge. If one little crumb is burnt, it will taint the entire pan (tragic, I know). So the best thing to do is toss the angry hot oil and start with some fresh stuff.
    Hope that helps! I still think your doughnuts look great...I really want to try one. :D

  2. I haven't yet attempted cake donuts so I don't know how much help I'll be, but here are a few things. Yes, you are right that thickness does make a difference. Also you should definitely be able to fry one donut at a time with no problem. In fact, that is how I do it so I can keep track of it better. Generally, my experience has been that donuts don't need that long to fry. I'm not quite sure how to tell if they are done for chocolate ones but for regular ones, I just fry them until they are a golden brown (usually less than 30 seconds per side). Also if you do burn one, you should start over with the oil because it will affect the rest of your batch which is probably why you tasted the char on others. And I prefer using vegetable oil but I don't know if there is a difference between vegetable oil vs peanut.Hope this helps somewhat!

  3. @Valerie I guess I should rephrase that they didn't 'not' turn out, I just know they could have been SO much better if not for my mistakes. Hey, my boyfriend has eaten four already, that has to say something?! But thanks so much for the advice, I'm definitely attempting these again so your help is greatly appreciated!

  4. @kirbie I definitely think the oil had a lot to do with the kind of funny taste, won't let that happen again! But thanks for taking the time to offer up some help, I really do appreciate it all!

  5. I think you did pretty well for a first doughnut attempt. I've never been able to get them right. They do look good.

  6. How yummy. I would love for you to share this recipe over on my mommy solution meme.


  7. Thank you so much for sharing this at Recipe Sharing Monday. The new party is now up and I'd love for you to link up again :)

  8. @Abby Well thanks! I thought they looked okay, a little flat though! But I will be attempting these again :)

    @ali Just linked up at the new Recipe Sharing Monday with my White-Out Cake! Can't wait to see all of the goodies :)

  9. Thank you for linking up to Tasty Tuesday at Nap-Time Creations. I really hope you can come back and link up again this week! http://nap-timecreations.blogspot.com/

  10. I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

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