You may say I’m a dreamer, but I think all donuts can do anything they put their mind to — even gluten-free ones, even vegan ones, and especially the ones that are both. Those kinds of odds build character, you know?
It’s possible that they can never be as soft, pillowy, and airy as the traditional kind. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to stop trying; I’m just here to facilitate. My ultimate dream (besides all the people living life in peace) is bringing you fluffy, light vegan and gluten-free donuts, covered in pink icing and tons of rainbow sprinkles. Mostly because I want to call them Homer Don’t Play That Donuts. If there were ever a donut that is an affront to this big yellow guy, welp, there you go.
If any of you mad-scientist bakers get there before I do, please feel free to steal this idea. You can be John, I’ll be Ringo, or that one guy the Beatles fired for being too handsome. (Come to think of it, that would be my first choice.)
Anyway! These are a work in progress, and I typically like to get a recipe capital-r Right before I post it, but:
(1) It’s going to be a while before I nail this down. Gluten absorbs fat and egg binds everything together, and both are challenging enough on their own, honestly.
(2) The people I shared these with loved them, and while they were utter darlings, I don’t think they were just trying to boost my ego.
(3) There isn’t much on the internet for those looking for a recipe like this. So I’d like to tip my hat to Gluten Free on a Shoestring for some great gluten-free tips (xanthan gum and baking soda, anyone?) and put this out there as an ongoing project.
The dough isn’t everything you’d ideally want. It’s a bit crumbly, but if you let it warm up a little before rolling it out, it will cooperate. It’s also a little heavy, and the donuts, while delicious, are also a bit dense. That’s really the only issue I’m trying to fix. However, heavy-ish fried dough is still fried dough. Let’s remember the important things.
Because they’re a little dense, it’s not very easy to fill them — not enough in the way of air pockets and all that. The lemon curd does add a great burst of flavor, but I’m not entirely sure it’s worth the trouble. That said, in case you wanted a recipe for vegan lemon curd, I’ve got you covered. It’s pretty thick so as to not be runny as a donut filling, so if you’re just making it on its own, you could probably get away with less cornstarch. I haven’t tried it, but I’d start at 2 tablespoons. You can whisk in more and reheat if it’s still too thin.
If I were to make this specific version of the elusive gluten-free vegan donut again, I’d make it easier on myself and just roll them in lemon sugar while they’re hot. Cinnamon sugar is also an option, if that’s your jam. Maybe even a little cocoa powder in there? I’m not the boss of you.
And with that, I’ll let you get back to your life. I will revisit this, perhaps with mashed banana subbing in for some of the coconut cream. Maybe a little more lemon juice and baking soda. Maybe I’ll do everything the same way, but also, like, hope really hard. (Just kidding, that’s stupid.)
Either way, it’ll be fun. Happy August to YOU, friends.
- 5 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup water, warm but not hot
- 4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I use Bob's Red Mill)
- 2 teaspoons xanthan gum
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup soy milk
- 5 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of one lemon (about a tablespoon)
- 3/4 cup coconut cream (note: I use the kind at Trader Joe's because it has some stabilizers and is thicker than other kinds I've come across. I can't speak to how other brands would perform.)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Peanut oil, for frying
- 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained to remove pulp and seeds
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup soy milk
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Zest of one lemon
- Whisk together yeast and a pinch of sugar with the water and let stand until foamy, about 3 minutes.
- Sift together the flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a large bowl and set aside.
- Combine the soy milk and coconut oil until incorporated. (If the coconut oil is in a solid state, you'll have to heat up the mixture slightly.) Add the foamy yeast mixture, then the sugar, lemon zest, coconut cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract and stir to combine.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in 3 1/2 cups of flour, one cup at a time. When dough becomes too stiff to stir, turn out onto floured surface and work flour into the dough with your hands. You should have a smooth, slightly sticky, elastic dough. Add more flour as necessary.
- Gather the dough into a ball and transfer it to a lightly oiled large bowl. Turn to coat, then cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until doubled in volume (around 2 hours) in a warm, draft-free place.
- Punch down the dough and wrap it tightly in plastic (it'll want to rise in the fridge, so it's important to wrap it well). Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- When dough is chilled, remove it from the fridge and let it rest for 30 minutes or so at room temperature. Roll it out onto a floured surface until about 1/3 inch thick. (If it's too crumbly to roll, just cover it loosely with plastic wrap and give it a little more time to warm up.) Using a doughnut cutter (I used a small one about 1 1/2 inches in diameter), cut out rounds. Re-roll the dough scraps to cut out a few more doughnuts. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper as you go. You should get around 15 doughnuts if using a full-sized donut cutter (3 inches in diameter or so), or roughly 30 if using a small one like I did.
- Cover donuts with plastic wrap loosely and let them rise for about 30-40 minutes.
- In a large pot or deep skillet, heat up the peanut oil to 365 degrees. Prepare a rack by lining with several paper towels and fry the donuts for about a minute on each side, until cooked through and golden brown. Transfer with a slotted spoon onto the paper towels as you fry. Be careful to not let the oil get too hot or too cold; keep it between 375 and 350 degrees as best as you can.
- Whisk together lemon juice, water, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Heat mixture over medium heat until boiling, whisking constantly; then, stop whisking and let it boil for a couple of minutes. It should be clear and thickened. Remove from heat, stir in soy milk and coconut oil, pass through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any lumps, and refrigerate until chilled.
- Pulse sugar and lemon zest in a food processor. Easy!
- Fit a pastry piping bag with a narrow round tip and fill with chilled curd. Poke a hole into the side of each donut using a straw or similarly shaped utensil (I used the handle of a narrow iced tea spoon). Poke the donut with the piping tip and squeeze curd into donut until you feel resistance (it won't take much).
- To glaze and finish donuts, thin out a 1/4 cup or so of the curd with some water, then dip the top of each donut in the lemon sugar. If it melts quickly, re-dip in sugar. Serve ASAP.