Homemade Donuts, Chapter 1: “Dancing Demon” (Pluot) Donuts with Candied Basil & Mint

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If you’d asked me a year ago whether I’d be making homemade yeasted donuts, with a homemade glaze, I’d have said you were very mistaken. But life sometimes has plans that run parallel or even perpendicular to our own (conscious) plans, and one minute you could be a baker, the next a braiser.

I’ve always loved to cook, to read food magazines and cookbooks, and to play around with food, but I only really cooked for special occasions and sporadically. It’s weird to me to recognize that just two years ago my only regular cooking habits were making smoothies in the morning and toasting bread and spreading it with almond butter for dinner. Today I cook almost all of our meals and use a minimum of processed foods. How did that happen? I guess that’s another post, but I will say that inspiration and a “muse,” and blogging, totally transformed my culinary habits.

We have a tradition in our family of taking my vegan niece when she is in town to the Los Angeles (nearly historical!) landmark, Stan’s Donuts, a stone’s throw from the UCLA Campus in Westwood. We also go there on Christmas morning with my son, Mom and Dad. Stan has been making donuts since 1965 and they are fresh, scrumptious and unique. Many of the specialty donuts are named after local personalities. For example, my personal favorite, the “Huell” (named after the TV personality Huell Howser) is a buttermilk bar stuffed with a big fat meaty slab of peanut butter and coated in chocolate. Here is a fun video from Huell’s show on Stan’s.

One of my favorite food blogs is Joy the Baker, and recently I keep stopping and oogling the donut creations she’s featured over the years. They are so pretty to look at! The next thing I knew I was scribbling down donut creation ideas/flavor combinations as they came across my mind based on what I was seeing at the Farmer’s Market and in restaurants and coffee shops. I also bought a donut cookbook, kindle version, by Seattle’s famous donut guys at Top Pot. After a couple of weeks of flirting with the donut, I came up with a recipe last week that I thought would be a nice addition to the Fiesta Friday party and May’s challenge: Pluot Donuts with candied herbs and fresh fruit glaze.  We have a funny and charismatic stone fruit farmer at the Wednesday Farmer’s Market, Fitz, and he likes to make up his own vampy and flirtatious names for his fruit.

Farmer Fitz's Dancing Demon Pluots

Farmer Fitz’s Dancing Demon Pluots

I’m going to split this post into two chapters because the first time I made donuts, I lacked a couple of specified ingredients and tools, namely “bread flour” and a digital thermometer. I wing things all the time and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Tell me if you think Chapter 1 worked . . . I used Bob’s Mill whole wheat “Bread Mix” for “Bread Machines,” and I did not have a thermometer. Interestingly, also, I noticed that 99% of the recipes I found online and in books used scalded milk for yeast raised donuts, and yet the Top Shop classic raised donut recipe did not list milk as an ingredient. Even more maddening, the Top Shop guys published a recipe for classic yeast raised donuts in Food & Wine Magazine that did use scalded milk. Bottom line: in Chapter 1, no milk.

If I had to review this donut for a restaurant review, I would say: (1) It was delicious, but the dough was dark which meant the donut, glazed, and glazed with fresh pureed pluots, was almost midnight blue (a little strange for a donut); (2) It tasted and must have been healthier due to the presence of whole grain flour, flax seeds and sunflower seeds; and, (3) The dough didn’t rise that well so the donuts were a little flatter and more dense than I would have preferred.  Stay tuned for next week when I use a thermometer, milk and actual bread flour.

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1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 extra-large yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

About 5 cups sifted bread flour, plus more sifted flour for dusting

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Pluot Glaze:  3 Pluots, 1/2 cup water, 3 cups powdered sugar

Candied Herbs:  A handful of basil and mint, 2 egg whites, and 4 Tbsp sugar


The night before you want to eat the donuts, make the candied herbs and, if you want to proof the dough overnight in the refrigerator, make the dough.

Make candied herbs by dipping herb leafs into egg white, setting on a wire rack, and sprinkling with sugar.  Allow to dry for 6 hours.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir the yeast into the warm water, sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and let stand until foamy, about 3 minutes. Melt shortening.  Stir the warm shortening into the yeast and mix on low for 2 minutes.  Gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar and the sour cream, the whole eggs, egg yolk, salt and vanilla. Mix on low for another minute.  Gradually stir in 4 3/4 cups of the flour, mixing on low, until all flour is incorporated, then mix on medium speed for 3 minutes until a soft, sticky dough forms. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and use a pastry scraper to knead the dough until smooth, adding as much of the remaining flour as necessary. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but smooth and elastic.

Gather the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 2 hours. Punch down the dough and turn it over in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours or overnight.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the chilled dough 1/3 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter dipped in flour, cut out as many doughnuts as possible and transfer them to a sheet of floured wax paper. The scraps can be rerolled once to cut out more doughnuts. Loosely cover the doughnuts with wax paper and let rise until soft and billowy, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile Make the Pluot Glaze by heating 3 chopped pluots and 1/2 cup water until boiling.  Transfer to blender and blend until smooth but with some very small pieces of fruit an peel still visible.  Transfer to stand mixer, add powdered sugar and, using whisk attachment, mix for 2 minutes on high.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat 4 inches of vegetable oil to 365°. Line a rack with several paper towels. Working in batches, fry the doughnuts until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Check the temperature of the frying oil to make sure it doesn’t get too hot or cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel-lined rack to drain.

When donuts are cool enough to touch with hands, dip one side of each into glaze and place on a rack.  Eat immediately!




38 Comments on “Homemade Donuts, Chapter 1: “Dancing Demon” (Pluot) Donuts with Candied Basil & Mint

  1. Who doesn’t love donuts! I have given up on them though because they are just too much dough in the nut. These look like something I could justify making. The colour is not off-putting at all. They look beautiful.

  2. Love the colors, that velvety purple and the green basil on top! I´m a big fan of introducing herbs to sweets, but never tried basil for that purpose in particular – seems that´s not ok from me! Cool & creative recipe!

  3. Oh wow, wow…these pictures are super duper and the purple red pluot donuts are incredibly scrumptious looking. Great work Birgerbird! Keep creating these delicious foods!!!

  4. Wow Sue – where to begin? You were only making smoothies and toast up until 2 years ago????? Well you certainly cook like a pro now! Farmer Fitz – we all need fruit guys like this!! J the B – one of the first blogs I started following all those years ago – her carrot pancakes are gorgeous. I love that you have made home made donuts with the most gorgeous glaze too – very impressed. Can’t wait to read and see Part II of the Donut Diaries! Happy Fiesta Friday!

    • Happy FF to you too. I have always loved to cook and cook up a storm, but I just never cooked regularly, day in and day out. It sounds like we have many of the same interests in books and blogs!

  5. Eating right away as you have instructed! 🙂 They look delicious. Love the glaze.

    • Very good! Any recommendations on a Cincinnati restaurant, by the way, my boss is going there tomorrow for a few days . . . staying at C21. thx!

      • Sue! I am so sorry I didn’t reply to your message earlier! I remember reading it and thinking I’ll send you a detailed response and then we just got busy with my parents who were visiting from India. We’re still catching up on reading and clearing our backlog! Hope your boss had a good time in Cincinnati.

  6. Wow… now I’m the one who eats smoothies and almond butter spread Ezekial bread… does that mean I might actually cook in two years? You never know, I might be inspired with all the fab food on Fiesta Fridays. And it’s awesome that the cooks have so much variety in their chosen cuisines. Your food is nutrient rich, yet tasty and earthy. Can’t wait to see what next week’s donuts like (these are actually very beautiful).

  7. How awesome are these?? Amazing! I totally admire you for being so determined to make these beautiful doughnuts. I would love to try a doughnut with flax and sunflower seed and candied leaves. Also I am looking forward to the next chapter because I love to watch peoples’ processes. What a great entry for the challenge! 😀

  8. Very impressive for the not-so-common doughnuts! When I hear of doughnuts, I always imagine those with sugar glaze or chocolate. But these doughnut of yours are so unique that it makes me want to look for these on bakeshops. But why would I if these can be made at home? 😀

    When will be that part two of the doughnut tales? I am so excited to know about it. 🙂 I hope it will be on the next FF. 😀

    Thank you for sharing these yummy doughnuts and for sharing your experiences with us! Have a wonderful weekend!

    • You are too cute jhuls! and as I told you my mom’s name is jean hulse and every time i type her email address “jhuls xxxx” I think of you!!! Thank you for your kind words it was so much fun making these donuts. By the way I recently ate Pancit from a co worker who is Filipino and it looked so unremarkable and plain, but it was like the most delicious noodle dish I ever ate? What is it about Pancit???? I made some yesterday and am on a Filipino kick right now. Stay tuned!!!

      • Ha! I think you asked the wrong person about Pancit! I have a looong adventure on discovering how to get that perfect Filipino pancit, but I couldn’t really figure it out. I also ask the same question ‘What is it about Pancit?’ Lol! You better ask your co-worker and share me what you talked about. 😀 I bet it’s iall about the seasoning!

    • You are right, the ideas and inspiration I get from books blogs and Fiesta Friday is endless. I never get bored or run out of things to post!!!! Next up? Egghoppers!!!!!

  9. What a fun recipe! You truly made the donut your own in this, Sue. Actually, the color would not put me off at all, I’ve had green donuts before (from dye, rather than healthy bread components and pluots). I was so intrigued seeing your Instagram posts of these and just loved reading about your process. You are so thoughtful in your process, I really need to sit back and emulate you a bit more and think through my bread making. I’m going to try to read more about bread science, too, just to educate myself for future reference. I’m interested to know whether the milk will make a difference!

    • You are so sweet, Ngan. Since you follow me on Instagram you get to see what’s in process before I post! I’m still on a Vietnamese kick right now eating so much herbs and rice flour things. Mmmm. Are you coming to the FF party this week?

      • Yum! I am off to see family this weekend and will be tech-less for a few days, so will not be at FF. I just snuck in the post this morning because I made that commitment to Angie and didn’t want to back out. I was so busy with work the last couple of weeks, I just need a little break. 🙂 Vietnamese food in hot weather is my favorite! I am feeling the craving for rice noodles and seafood dishes again. I hope to have some this weekend! Have a nice weekend Sue!

  10. The candied herbs on the donuts look divine, what a wonderful idea, thanks for sharing!

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