Over the past few years, more and more people have started to get into sourdough recipes. There are a lot of recipes that you can make with sourdough starters and get a result with a unique taste and texture.
One such recipe will also make some of the most delicious doughnuts. Baked sourdough donuts are an iteration of the traditional donut recipe that uses sourdough starter as a leavening instead of yeast or baking powder. As the name suggests, these donuts are also baked instead of fried, making them healthier.
In this article, we’ll examine how the sourdough starter affects the traditional donut recipe and provide you with a step-by-step recipe to make them.
If you have some active sourdough starters and want to learn how to make the best-baked sourdough donuts, keep on reading!
History of Baked Sourdough Donuts
Despite the long history of donuts in the United States, baked sourdough donuts are a very recent concept. They first emerged when pastry chef Mathew Rice of Niche Media Group in Nashville won the Dawn Foods’ Donut Co-Creation Competition in 2019.
His winning donut recipe was a baked sourdough donut, an idea that wasn’t popular at the time. Soon after, Dawn Foods came up with their own sourdough donut mix in 2020, and this variation has become very famous ever since.
Baked sourdough donuts are an excellent snack to make. They are unique and healthier than traditional donuts since they aren’t fried in oil. They are also an excellent way to use up your discarded sourdough starter. Not to mention that they make a great treat for National Sourdough Day.
While most donut recipes produce fried donuts, the concept of baked donuts is not unique to the United States. There are parts of the world with traditional recipes for baked doughnuts. A good example is rosquillas, a type of baked donut that uses a fermented dough. It’s a popular Easter treat in Spain, as well as in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
Ingredients & Supplies
To make baked sourdough donuts, you’ll need some kind of sourdough starter. You can use discarded sourdough starter that you no longer need, or you can use your active sourdough starter if you prefer.
This recipe is based on discarded sourdough starters. If you want to use an active sourdough starter, just omit the additional leavening agents and let your dough ferment for a few hours. We’ll also provide you with a few recipes for toppings, although you can use any glaze or icing you prefer.
Here is what you’ll need to make the best-baked sourdough donuts:
For the dough:
- 100g (¾ cup + 1 ½ tbsps) all-purpose flour
- 100g (6 ½ tablespoons) milk
- 70g (5 ½ tbsps) granulated sugar
- 50g (¼ cup) discard sourdough starter
- 30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
For the toppings:
- 75-90g (¾ – 1 cup) powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 75g (¾ cup) powdered sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons of milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 15g (2 tbsp) cocoa powder
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- Melted butter
You’ll also need some essential kitchen supplies. Even though some of them are optional, they will save you a lot of time and hassle.
- Mixing bowls
- Silicone Spatula
- Wire rack
- Cooking spray
- Donut pan (optional)
- A stand mixer (optional)
- Piping bag (optional)
Step by Step on How to Make Baked Sourdough Donuts
Here are the steps you need to follow to make the best-baked sourdough donuts:
- In a mixing bowl, incorporate all your dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt), and set it aside.
- In another mixing bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer if you have one), combine the sourdough starter, milk, butter, egg sugar, and vanilla. You can also use the hook attachment of your stand mixer to fluff the butter and sugar before adding the rest of your wet ingredients.
- Add the dry ingredients to the bowl with the wet ingredients and fold gently until they are well-mixed. If you’re using a stand or electric mixer, use the lowest setting. In any case, don’t overmix the dough at this stage.
- (Optional) At this point, you can ferment the dough to allow the sourdough to develop. The more you let it rest and ferment, the fluffier it will become, but it will also increase the tangy, acidic flavor of your doughnuts. You can rest your dough in the fridge from 4 hours to overnight.
- Scoop the dough using a spoon and fill up the donut pan. You can also use a piping bag with a wide nozzle or a ziplock bag. If you don’t have a donut pan, a muffin pan will work fine. Just don’t forget to cut some holes for your donuts using a shot glass. Nevertheless, consider picking up a few donut pans, as they will make your life much easier and encourage you to make more donuts!
- Preheat your oven to 350°F (about 180°C) and thoroughly grease your donut pan with cooking spray. You can also use butter or neutral oil.
- Bake your donuts for about 10 minutes, or until they are puffed up and have a golden brown color.
- Remove from the oven and let them cool a bit, so they don’t break when you try to remove them.
- Using a rubber spatula, carefully remove the donuts from the pan and place them on a wire rack to cool off until you make the glaze.
- For the glaze:
- Whisk together the powdered sugar, vanilla, and a few tablespoons of milk in a mixing bowl. Add more milk until you get a thick but still pourable glaze. For a chocolate glaze, substitute about 15 g of powdered sugar with cocoa powder.
- Dip one side of your donuts into the glaze and place them on a wire rack for the glaze to harden.
- For the cinnamon sugar topping:
- In a mixing bowl, combine your granulated sugar and cinnamon until they are well incorporated.
- Melt your butter into the microwave and gently brush each donut once they are cool enough to touch.
- Dip your buttered donuts into the cinnamon sugar mix and roll them around to make sure it sticks on the whole donut.
- If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use an electric one or just whisk it by hand, although it will take more time and effort.
- You can substitute all-purpose flour with bread flour if you use an active sourdough starter to get a more elastic dough. Also, you can swap the milk for any type of plant milk you prefer, as well as substitute butter with margarine.
- Baked sourdough donuts go best with sweeter toppings due to their tangy flavor. We recommend using a sweet glaze or icing, or just dust them with some sugar and cinnamon once they’re out of the oven.
- You can store your leftover sourdough donuts in an airtight container for up to a few days. You can also keep them unglazed in the freezer, where they can last for several months.
All in all, baked sourdough donuts are a unique alternative to a traditional and very beloved recipe. If you happen to have any leftover sourdough from your bread baking, consider making some sourdough donuts. With our recipe and tips, you’ll definitely make the best baked sourdough donuts, and your family and friends will love them.
Are Baked Donuts as Good as Fried Donuts?
The most significant difference between baked donuts and fried donuts is the amount of oil used. Fried donuts tend to absorb a lot of oil, making them more flavorful but also less healthy. On the other hand, baked donuts have almost no oil, making them healthier. Finally, baked donuts have a more cakey texture, whereas fried donuts are usually more fluffy.
Can I Make Baked Sourdough Donuts With Sourdough Discard?
You can make baked sourdough donuts with any type of sourdough starter. You can use discard sourdough starter, unfed sourdough starter, and even fresh, active sourdough starter. Each one requires slight tweaks to the recipe, like adding or removing additional leavening agents, but all of them make great baked sourdough donuts.
Can You Bake Donuts in a Muffin Pan?
Absolutely! While a donut pan will save you some time and hassle, it’s actually not necessary to make excellent baked donuts. Instead, you can use a muffin pan. You’ll also need to make a donut mold out of aluminum foil or parchment paper to give your donuts their signature hole.
Can I Use Bread Flour Instead of All Purpose for Donuts?
If you’re using an active sourdough starter, your dough can benefit from the high protein content of bread flour. It’ll make your dough more elastic and airy, which makes for fluffier donuts. If you prefer cake donuts or are using a discard sourdough starter, you should use all-purpose flour, as the bread flour can make your donuts tough.