baked pumpkin mini-donuts


'Tis the season to bake 'til you drop. Am I right?

Well. If you particularly like baking (as I do), then yes. It is indeed. And yes, these are my actual and adorable measuring cups, and no, I am not sorry.

Though I've only had a handful of attempts under my belt this season, I would agree with King Arthur Flour blogger PJ Hamel: "If you're going to bake just ONE THING this month (or this week, or today, choose your preferred frequency) .. Let it be these pumpkin-cinnamon doughnuts."

That, and the two cans of pureed pumpkin I had on hand, were all I really needed to be convinced. 

I originally decided to make these over the weekend (I also again just a few days later for my mom's birthday breakfast, coming soon!), in a joint effort with a co-worker to "food bomb" our office. ("Food bomb," undefined and unrecognized by the bulk of society, is basically just swarming your office with doughnut-sconey-cookie goodness. Happy Holidays, indeed!) And, bonus, these little beauties have all the appearances of a stand-up donut, but the baked-not-fried aspect is what really brings the whole thing home. (Second-bonus, if you don't own a donut pan and don't want to, Hamel says a muffin tin will work, though she may shun you for it.) 

What, how am I doing this and taking a picture at the same time..?!

To begin, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, add the following into a mixing bowl. (We don't have our KitchenAid yet, ahhh, mostly due to what-color-will-we-choose constraints, but I am living proof that hand-mixing is just as okay in this recipe's case.)

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Beat all of these ingredients together until smooth--I found it helpful to whisk the eggs separately before trying to incorporate.

Now, add 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons of unbleached all-purpose flour. Mix it up.

Lightly grease your donut pan. I used butter, but a cooking spray is definitely easier for making sure you didn't miss any spots. Fill your pan to about 3/4 of the way full; Hamel recommends using a tablespoon for exact measurement. I prefer to live more on the edge. (She also notes that if you're using, tsk tsk, a muffin tin, 3/4 of the way full is the way to go here, too.)

Now, here is where PJ and I differ. She recommends to bake each batch for 15-18 (for muffins, 23-25) minutes. This could be my mini-donut pan speaking, but my donuts were perfectly cooked in 9-10 minutes. Our oven is also super-wonky on the temperature reliability. You've been forewarned: act accordingly.

Once a cake tester comes out clean, remove the donuts from the oven, but leave them in the pan for 5 more minutes. Trust me, trying to remove them any sooner is a literal hot mess. After those 5 unbearable minutes, transfer to a cooling rack.

When the donuts are still warm but no longer too delicate (after about another four minutes), gently shake them in a bag with cinnamon-sugar. (Hamel provides no rules for this ratio, so I went a little heavy on the cinnamon and a little light on the sugar. Just enough added spice and crunch, HELLO.)

The only thing to do from here is wow your taste-testers with this crowd-pleasing recipe. But a final note: unless you're going to freeze these minis, store them in a bag or container that isn't completely sealed to avoid any sogginess.

A good cook always taste tests, duh.