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This recipe was originally published in April 2012.
I started thinking about making these when reading one of the books in my favorite series from Lauraine Snelling (I can’t remember which one, but it is one of the later ones). In the book, they have bread out to rise and decide to “steal” some of the dough to turn it into a treat to have with their coffee. I had a huge ah-ha moment and thought, what a wonderful idea that would be. I have some sort of dough available quite often. Could we have sourdough donuts at a moment’s notice using this idea?
A few days later, I had sourdough tortilla dough soaking for dinner. It was getting close to time for the children to return from school, so on impulse, I decided to make donuts for snack time. The results were spectacular! My children thought it was a wonderful treat.
Over the years, I’ve made these with a variety of different doughs. This is not a recipe exactly, but more of an idea for you to adapt for your needs.
How to Make Sourdough Donuts
This can be just about anything! I’ve used Sourdough Tortilla dough, my Rustic Biscuit dough, Minimal-Knead Sourdough Sandwich Bread dough, and no-knead bread (this is something I learned about in the Traditional Cooking School Sourdough A to Z eCourse). Yeast bread dough is also an option.
How much dough you need depends on how many donuts you want to end up with. When making a snack-sized amount of donut holes, a cup or so is enough for four servings.
If doing the Apple Fritter variation as a breakfast, use a bread loaf size amount for four generous fritters. Scale up or down to suit your needs.
Plain, untopped donuts can be stored in the fridge for later. If you add a topping, fresh is best.
When using sourdough, I like to add a bit of natural sweetener. My preference is Sucanat or Rapadura. These are dry, less-processed natural sweeteners. You can certainly use any dry sweetener you prefer. For each cup of dough, I add up to 1 tablespoon of dry sweetener.
Honey or maple syrup can be used as well, but since it’s liquid, it can change the texture of the dough. If using a liquid sweetener, you may need additional flour.
If I’m using a dough that already contains sweetener, such as my Minimal-Knead dough, I either lessen the amount of additional sweetener or don’t add any extra.
I add cinnamon and nutmeg to the dough, somewhere around 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and ½ teaspoon of nutmeg per cup of dough.
You could try other spices too. Think about the spices you might use in muffins. Maybe a chai flavor with cardamon, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger? Adding cocoa powder to make chocolate donuts is also wonderful. Chocolate and sourdough, along with a dash of vanilla, is a beautiful combination.
Or don’t add spices and just focus on toppings. The varieties are endless!
I use ½ teaspoon baking soda for each cup of dough after everything else has been worked in. Baking soda will help lighten the dough. It also sweetens and brings out the natural flavor of the sourdough and helps to remove excess tang.
Put your dough in a bowl, add your sweetener and spices, then mix to combine. Depending on your dough’s thickness, you may use a wooden spoon or your hands. If using your hands, knead to combine. After all is mixed well, sprinkle on your baking soda and mix again.
I use a deep cast-iron skillet and unflavored coconut oil or a mild tallow. This is a shallow fry; you only need about an inch of oil. Heat until a small piece of dough sizzles when dropped in. Be sure to keep your heat around medium, and do not allow your oil to smoke.
For donut holes, I form the dough into a ball. I’m not exact with this, and depending on the dough’s consistency, it is sometimes easier to carefully drop by teaspoons.
Allow it to cook a few minutes and then carefully turn over. I cook these very much like frying meatballs, rotating them to get each side. Again, watch your heat so it isn’t too hot but is still hot enough to sizzle.
If I want to make a flat donut, I shape and then cook them somewhat like pancakes. A few minutes on side one, flip to side two and cook a few minutes, then back to side one to make sure it cooks through.
I haven’t tried rolling out the dough and putting a hole in the center like an actual donut, but that might work well with a thick enough dough.
Your cooking oil can be strained and saved for your next batch of donuts!
As soon as the sourdough donuts are done and come out of the oil, I often roll them in cinnamon sugar. This is a combination of powdered Sucanat and cinnamon (whirl the Sucanat in a blender to make it powdered).
Other topping options include glaze, frosting, nuts, jam or jelly, sprinkles…just about anything! You could even dip the donuts in honey. Plain or fancy, there are so many options.
Sourdough Donut Formula
- Dough of your choice (about 1 cup to make a snack-sized treat for four people)
- Natural sweetener, such as Sucanat or honey
- Desired spices
- 1/2 to 1 tsp Baking soda pet 1 cup of dough
- Coconut oil, for frying
- Cinnamon sugar, glaze, frosting, nuts, jam, sprinkles, etc. for decorating (optional)
- Combine dough, sweetener, and spices. Once well mixed, sprinklebaking soda on top and quickly work in.
- Allow to rest while the oil heats. You want the oil hotenough to sizzle a small piece of dough. Form donuts into desired shape andgently fry until cooked through.
- Roll in cinnamon sugar, frost, or serve plain for a tastytreat.
Variation: Apple Fritters
- 2 Apples, diced
- Healthy fat for cooking apples
- Dough of your choice
- Natural sweetener, such as Sucanat or honey
- Spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp Baking soda
- Coconut oil for light frying
- Cinnamon sugar or glaze (optional)
- Cook apples in healthy fat until soft. Follow remaining directions above, forming into free-form patties—somewhat like the fritters you see in a donut shop. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar or glaze.
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I’m new to using coconut oil (and real food in general) can you save the coconut oil and re-use? My mom fries fish and saves the oil to use again next time for fish. She doesn’t use coconut oil though. It just seems like this would be a lot of oil to fry just once. Perhaps if I just use a smaller pan? Thanks for the recipe! 🙂
I do re-use my coconut oil. It is probably best to strain it for re-use. I do that sometimes but not always. We go through so much coconut oil that it gets used up fairly quickly. I am using the expeller pressed oil aslo which is a little less expensive (still spendy though) and no flavor to the oil.
You just solved a dilemma for me! I “always” make donuts for Christmas Eve for any family that is in the area. Wouldn’t want to let them down, but now I can say, “Grandma is making healthy donuts this year.” Hopefully, it will fly! 🙂