Applesauce Doughnut Holes

Reader Contribution by Brandy Ernzen
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Boy, have I got a sweet treat for you. No, really. I spent the weekend making Applesauce Doughnut Holes, a miniature version of the Applesauce Doughnut recipe in GRIT’s Comfort Food Cookbook. And I want to give you one, or two, or maybe all 400 of them. All you have to do is join GRIT this weekend at the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR in Topeka, Kansas.

Those springy, sweet treats will reside in Quarto Publishing Group’s booth (No. 4505). Quarto is the publisher of the GRIT Comfort Food Cookbook, and they’re a great group of folks to chat with, too.

The Road to 400 Doughnut Holes Was Paved With a Few Potholes

I love to bake, and this recipe is a keeper. (I’ve yet to run across one in the cookbook that isn’t …) I even made a separate batch for my son’s school party, and they’re kid-approved. However, I learned a few things along the way. You probably already knew these, but sometimes I have to try things myself before the aha moment sinks in!

  1. Whole wheat flour doesn’t cut it with this recipe. I wanted to make a test batch, mostly to figure out whether the taste and texture would be compromised by freezing them ahead of time. (I like to procrastinate as much as the next person, but I didn’t want to start this project the night before our big event.) So, I used the whole wheat flour I had on hand. Bad, bad call. The wonderful apple and cinnamon flavors were barely noticeable. Also, the doughnut holes ended up being way too dry and dense, not that light, springy texture I was banking on. They would’ve been a perfect substitute if you ran out of golf balls.

  2. If you’re baking versus frying, noodle with the time and temperature. I have these cool little cake pop/doughnut hole pans that work great for projects like this. However, the original recipe called for the standard-size doughnuts to be fried in lard. After researching the temperatures and times used in my other baked doughnut hole recipes, I baked the first batch for 15 minutes at 350 F. Between the whole wheat flour and the too-long time, I was starting to panic! I took the baking time down each subsequent batch, finally settling on 9 minutes. That seemed to do the trick. Your oven, altitude and other factors might affect the baking time, so I suggest watching from about 8 minutes into a batch.

  3. Chill out. The recipe calls for the batter to be chilled in the fridge for an hour. The batter is pretty sticky, like a cross between a bread dough and cookie dough, so chilling it helps when it’s time to cut doughnuts or spoon out the batter into the pans. Don’t skip this step. There were a few times I needed to chill the dough longer. That didn’t seem to be an issue, thankfully. I just added one minute on to the baking time.

    Applesauce Doughtnuts
    Yields 3 1/2 dozen doughnuts or approximately 60 doughnut holes.

    5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
    4 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon nutmeg
    1/4 cup lard, softened, plus more for frying
    1 cup sugar
    3 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 cup applesauce
    1/2 cup buttermilk

    1/4 cup apple cider
    2 cups confectioner’s sugar

    In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.

    In a separate large bowl, cream together lard, sugar and eggs. Beat in the vanilla, applesauce and buttermilk. Add the flour mixture, 1 cup at a time, beating the dough smooth after each addition. The dough will be tacky and moist – a cross between quick bread batter and cookie dough. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

    Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board and roll out to 3/8-inch thickness. Cut into pieces with a 2 1/2-inch doughnut cutter. (I skipped this step for the doughnut holes.)

    In a cast-iron kettle, heat lard to 2 inches deep and 350 F. Using a metal spatula, slide 3 or 4 doughnuts at a time into the lard and fry for 1 minute on each side, until golden brown all over. Remove from the fat with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Bring the lard back to temperature between each batch.

    To prepare the glaze, whisk together the apple cider and confectioner’s sugar until smooth. After the doughnuts have cooled for 5 to 10 minutes, dip the tops in the glaze.


    The next time you need a sweet treat – whether it’s for a chilly winter morning, a bake sale or just because – I encourage you to give this recipe a try. They’re tasty right out of the oven with a cold glass of milk, or at room temperature. You’ll definitely have a few more friends after sharing these guys. Hopefully I’ll have a few more after this weekend’s FAIR, too.

    Do you have a favorite baked treat that is your go-to comfort food? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Please share your favorites in the comments section below.

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