Buttermilk Doughnuts Recipe

This recipe is a taste of home — one whiff of the nutmeg and I’m instantly transported back to the farm. My mother made doughnuts a few times each year, usually around the holidays. She’d make a double batch and store them in a large, round Tupperware container. I can remember peeling back the lid and being hit in the face with the awesome doughnut scent.

I’ve been asking my mother for her doughnut recipe and it finally popped into my inbox over the Easter weekend. Although I was her baking assistant once upon a time, I don’t think I’ve attempted them as an adult. Fortunately, it’s hard to go wrong with this recipe.


Note: The reference to ‘soda’ means baking soda. The final instructions not shown in the recipe are to chill the dough. Then, roll, cut and to fry the doughnuts in 375F oil. Makes 3 dozen.

Three dozen doughnuts is way more than 2 people need, so I cut the recipe in half. I had forgotten what the dough texture should be like and guessed it would be like stiff cookie dough. I tended up using nearly 3 cups of flour. I prepared the dough and placed into the fridge while I went to the store to buy oil.

When I reached the market, I remembered Joe wouldn’t be home for dinner so decided to pick up ingredients to make a small pizza. I went to the meat counter and bought thinly sliced hot calabrese to top the pizza, a canned sauce (yes, I am lazy), mozzarella, and an artisan bread. Oh, and some fresh basil.

As you can see, I became distracted by pizza making and totally forgot to buy oil. This is *so* me.

Sadly, I didn’t realize this until I got home. I submitted to my fate and decided to postpone doughnut frying until the following day. I wasn’t sure how the dough would react to the delay but it seemed fine 24 hours later, although a bit wet. I kneaded it on the counter with another half cup of flour until it reached a non-sticky state once again.

I rolled the doughnuts into a 1/2″ disk, then used my state of the art doughnut cutter (i.e. leftover pizza sauce tin — see, the pizza had a purpose) and my doughnut hole maker (i.e. end of wooden spoon). Be sure to use a thermometer to monitor the oil, you don’t want it to be too low or too high. Try to keep it at or around 375.

The frying went smoothly – no burns and no smoke. But then again, any frying attempt that doesn’t require band-aids or a trip the hospital is considered a success.

Cutting doughnuts
Doughnut Cutter
Frying Doughnuts
Frying Doughnuts

My tangent on induction cooking:

I’ve been meaning to mention the induction cooktop we’re now using – which has both pros and cons. In this case, the pro is that the cook top keeps an even temperature and adjusts quickly to a setting change. Additionally, the heat is conducted through the bottom of the pan so the sides of the pan do not take on additional heat. My former gas stove could be a nightmare, as the flames would lick the sides of the pan and burn sauces, or in this case would cause the oil to smoke around the edges.

The con is the knobless, touch-top controls which are not designed for impatient people (yours truly) so I can find it frustrating to adjust when a pan is verging on boiling over. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case when frying these doughnuts … and I’m completely going off on a tangent now.

Back on track:
Back to the doughnuts. They are awesome. The outside becomes a medium brown color and is crispy when fresh from the oil. As the doughnuts cool and sit, the crispiness will disappear. The insides remains a cake-y, nutmeg-y, tender center. Once cooled, I place them into a Tupperware container (old habits die hard). The doughnuts don’t last long but I should note that they do freeze well.

Crispy edges on doughnuts

Go nude or add a top?

Although I love yeast doughnuts, cake doughnuts hold a special place in my heart. They are thick and hearty, tender and flavorful. I’m showing a few of them glazed which will cause my mother to raise an eyebrow, supportive of my creative choice while mildly disapproving. She never glazed them or did any other funny business with them.

I made a simple glaze of 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, 2-3 T milk. I divided it into four bowls and then played around: 1 T raspberry preserves in one, 1 T blueberry jam in another, maple flavoring in the third, and a generous amount of freshly ground cinnamon in the fourth bowl (that I won in a giveaway from Todd & Diane month’s ago — it made the move to Vancouver).

Doughnut dippers – a party waiting to happen!

Each bowl will only glaze about 2 doughnuts but I was doing it mostly to try out different flavorings. I like the cinnamon version the best — much less messy than making sugar and cinnamon tossed doughnuts. I think it would be fun to make doughnut sticks (as opposed to round ones), then create a palette of dipping glazes — who wants an invite to that party???

doughnut tub
Doughnut glaze
More doughnut glaze

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  1. OMG! I’m in fried heaven Allen. These look sensational…cake doughnuts will become my new thing after this post. Your mum should be proud. Oh! and please don’t forget my invite!

  2. Toontz: Haha — thank you! I’ll have to fry up a bigger batch next time :-)

    Maria: I think he might just like these!

    Peter G: I forgot to mention that I like them when the hole nearly closes, it maximizes the cake and fried surface area. If you’re ever in town, let me know!

  3. I’ve been craving donuts forever! I don’t think I’ve had one in almost a year…that must change. I don’t think I’m up for deep frying a whole batch, but this looks tempting!

  4. Ok…I have to clean my screen now as I have been sitting here licking my screen. Those look awesome! I might have some time on my hands here this weekend. It’s supposed to be in the mid to upper 80s here, but I might have to slave away over some heat to make some of these little goodies!

  5. Those look absolutely divine. I’ve always been a cake doughnut person. I adore the crispy exterior and the moist innards, lol. I really, really wish I had one of your doughnuts right now!!!

  6. Donuts!!!! These look awesome. I also love how you copied the email your mom sent you. I think it must be a mom thing to send all emails in a bold funky font. My mom does it all the time.

    Also, smart use of using a tomato can as your circle cutter.

  7. OMG! I’m sold. Cake doughnuts are my favorite & those just look drop dead amazing. Good to know they chill ok overnight so you could make the dough on Saturday night & have a fabulous morning Sunday treat.

  8. I want an invite!!! Well, duh :) I even have a hard time deciding which “dressing” I like best. Maybe I can have one of each?
    I can’t believe the baking powder stayed potent for 24 hours post-moistening. The donut gods must be on your side! :)

  9. MMMMmmmm donuts, cant resist them! Yours look so beautiful! I am afraid of doing any deep frying though :( I kid you not when I say that my last attempt (about 10 years ago) resulted in having to call the firemen!

  10. Nice post Allen! My mom’s doughnuts are totally better than your mom’s doughnuts though ;) I really dig that pretty pink raspberry icing. I also fully support you making cruller-like doughnut sticks. That’s an awesome idea! As is the doughnut party. I suspect my invite is in the mail? xoxo

  11. These doughnuts look amazing! I’m sure they will become a favorite in our family too. Can’t wait to try them! Sadly, I’m too far away to attend the Doughnut Dipper Party…maybe I’ll hold a satellite party in your honor? I also love that you don’t need any fancy equipment for the fabulous result. Thanks once again!

  12. please, please, invite me! these look absolutely gorgeous, and I already told L that I would make these when baby can eat them! and the glazes look oh, so ooey! oh – what is the diff between C and c in the recipe?

  13. Thanks, everyone! I should clarify that I’d be careful about leaving the dough overnight. As Manggy pointed out, it’s possible I just got lucky this time.

    Q: The only differences is that my mother used caps in one place and not another :-) C or c both refer to ‘cups’.

    Sadly, our batch of doughnuts are now officially gone. I’ll need to start planning the doughnut dippin’ party :-)

  14. I’m holding you totally responsible for my uncontrollable doughnut cravings. Doughnuts remind me of ‘home’ too – my grandmother used to make doughnuts filled with hot, home-made jam.

    The inside of your doughnuts look just perfect by the way, light and fluffy and wonderful.

    Doughnut stick party? Where do I sign up?

  15. I should note that by using a tin can you have ability to make doughnuts of any size. This can was about 2 1/2″ across and doughnuts turned out maybe 3 1/2″ wide after frying. For the hole, I used a large wooden spoon handle to create the opening, then either wiggle it around or use a finger to stretch the opening to any size. Glad you like this idea! I’m limited on storage space so having a dedicated doughnut cutter is just not an option :-)

  16. I’m not big fan of frying… but those donuts look really goooood :)

    Have a wonderful day and don’t forget to check out chocolate-making kit giveaway on my site :)


  17. These look so good! I’ve yet to try donuts, but people seem to think that I know how to make them. Truth be told, I’m a little afraid of burning myself. But I may just have to get brave, so I can try your mom’s recipe. Thanks for sharing it! ; )

  18. Allen, I can see you’re settled in your new home and city and busy again! These are absolutely gorgeous. It would be too dangerous to make these at home as they’d be inside my stomach in seconds…

  19. I love plain cake doughnuts, extra glaze makes them a bit too sweet for me. I’ve been wanting to make homemade doughnuts for a while, I’m just worried that I’ll end up eating them all myself!

  20. Hi!
    I had a craving for buttermilk doughnuts, and found your site!
    I have a question though.
    “Mix 2 tsp soda with 2 C. buttermilk”

    Do you mean baking soda or soda water?
    I’m new to baking, so I just wanted to be sure.

  21. oh duh.
    i’m sorry.
    now that i reread the recipe during the day, i see you already answered my question.

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