Nothing says love quite like doughnuts. When my sisters and I were little, my dad would very occasionally drive 45 seconds down the street to Dale’s Donuts #9 and have a dozen fresh doughnuts on the table before we ever got out of bed. He did it because he loved us…and maybe because he wanted a doughnut and knew we’d never stop complaining if we didn’t get some, too.
And doughnuts were pivotal in what remains one of the most important relationships in my life, the one with my little sister, Eliot (E3). We always loved each other, but like many siblings, we didn’t really get along for the first sixteen years or so. When I was a senior in high school, she was a freshman, so I drove us both to school everyday. And what did we do with our newfound freedom? Get doughnuts for breakfast, of course! Our little fifteen minute drives were spent chatting about the perfection that is John Cusack and eating chocolate sprinkle twists. We became best friends that year. I know the doughnuts weren’t the reason for it, but they sure didn’t hurt 😜
One of the only things I miss about Texas food (apart from Tex-Mex and great barbecue), is Dale’s Donuts #9. I’ve tried to find a good doughnut shop over the last eight years in NYC, but have been mostly unlucky. The Doughnut Plant is too flashy for me. I don’t need my doughnuts to be gourmet. I really love the 7th Avenue Donut Diner in Park Slope (get the Toasted Coconut Doughnut!), but it’s too far from home to be a viable option. There’s always Dunkin’ Donuts, but their doughnuts just aren’t great. They work in a pinch (and there have been many pinches), but they leave me underwhelmed. So what’s a woman to do? Make them at home!
You might think I’m insane, but trust me, making your own doughnuts is worth it, if only to say “Hey! I made these doughnuts!” to everyone you meet. The doughnuts I’ve been making lately are cake doughnuts, so they take 90 minutes start-to-finish, instead of the 3+ hours that the yeast-raised variety can take. Yes, you can have shop-quality doughnuts on your table in less than two hours!
And oh, are they ever good. These cake doughnuts are made with cream cheese, which keeps them extra soft. Sour cream is traditional, but cream cheese is just…cream cheese! It makes these doughnuts so light (something difficult to achieve with fried dough), but still rich enough to taste like the real deal. The dough also has a few tablespoons of softened butter and two eggs plus a yolk, just to keep everything really moist and fluffy.
These doughnuts are made with a combination of flour and cornstarch. As I’ve mentioned so many times, cornstarch lightens flour in cakes and cookies, and it does the same thing here. I made one batch with all all-purpose flour, and they were fine, but too dry and crumbly for me to want to make them again. The cornstarch is the “secret” ingredient in this recipe 😊 Also, add a dash of nutmeg. It’s traditional in doughnuts, and adds a little depth without being front-and-center. And of course, since these are cake doughnuts, they are leavened with baking powder instead of yeast, which makes them come together fairly quickly and easily.
Once your dough is made, let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. The rest allows for the dry ingredients to become fully saturated and for the proteins in the flour to develop properly. Once half an hour is up, flour a surface and roll out the dough, then use graduated cookie cutters (or a doughnut cutter, if you have one) to cut out doughnuts. I used a set of circles (the larger being 2 inches), and also some cute hearts for Valentine’s Day 💗
Fry the doughnuts in batches of three or four. These cook in 350F oil, and only take 1-2 minutes per side. Once they start to puff and turn golden, they need to be flipped. They will darken a bit more as they cool.
Once your doughnuts are cooked, whisk up the glaze. Confectioner’s sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, salt, and hot tap water ensure that it will set just like the glazes at your favorite doughnut shop! If you are wary of corn syrup, I recommend Lyle’s Golden Syrup as a substitute. Just whisk all the ingredients until smooth. If you want a pink glaze, add a couple of drops of liquid red food coloring. Dip each doughnut individually with your finger or chopsticks before setting it back on the rack to set. If you want to add sprinkles, do it immediately after dipping. The glaze will set after 20 minutes, and then…breakfast time!
This recipe is long and detailed, but trust me when I say that you can make shop-quality doughnuts at home! Soft and cakey with crispy edges, they’re totally irresistible.
So, this Valentine’s Day (or any day!), invite some of your nearest and dearest for coffee and Glazed Cream Cheese Cake Doughnuts. Have them bring the coffee–you’re frying homemade doughnuts. You’ve done enough.
It’s a great way to let people know you love them 💗🍩
Glazed Cream Cheese Cake Doughnuts
glaze barely adapted from Handle the Heat
makes about 21 2-inch doughnuts and doughnut holes
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4 ounces full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
vegetable or canola oil, for frying
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons light corn syrup*
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5-6 tablespoons hot tap water
2-3 drops liquid food coloring, if desired
sprinkles, if desired
Whisk together flour, cornstarch, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese and butter together for two minutes, until very light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs and egg yolk and beat the mixture for five minutes until the volume is increased, and the mixture is thick, frothy, and light yellow.* Beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture in two installments, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl. Gather dough into a ball and cover it with plastic wrap, leaving it to rest in the mixing bowl for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set two cooling racks over wax paper.
On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Use a doughnut cutter or graduated cookie cutters to cut doughnuts. Re-roll as necessary. Lay cut doughnuts and doughnut holes on prepared baking sheet.
Pour vegetable oil in a large heavy pot, until it is about 1 1/2 inches deep. Heat oil until it reaches 350F. Add cut doughnuts in batches of three or four. Let fry until golden, about 1-2 minutes per side. Remove cooked doughnuts to prepared racks. Continue frying until all doughnuts have been cooked.
Make the glaze. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar and salt. Add corn syrup, vanilla, hot water, and optional food coloring, and continue whisking until smooth. Dip doughnuts one at a time before placing back on the cooling racks. Add sprinkles immediately after dipping, if desired. Let glaze set for twenty minutes before enjoying. Doughnuts are best eaten the day they are made.
1. Lyle’s Golden Syrup may be substituted.
2. Mixture may have a few small lumps.