Baked vanilla doughnuts

They’re airy and soft, topped with a hot pink sprinkled glaze that Homer Simpson himself would be polishing off whole.

Superkid ice cream. Gushers. Maraschino cherries. “Too much food colouring,” my mom said. “Your body can’t process it, so it’ll stay inside you for the next 100 years!”

And so, not only did I steer clear – oh no – I was afraid. Afraid I’d live my whole life with a maraschino cherry sitting at the pit of my stomach. Afraid I’d someday get an X-ray and see a neon red spot in the middle of it. I’d be old, hunched over and wrinkly and it’d still be in there swooshing around — yet another reason for my mom to say I told you so.

Oh, but how I’ve showed her. At some point between then and now, my food colour-a-phobia takes a full 180°.

Today, I’m eating the rainbow. Fruit’s great and all, but have you tried jujubes? Mike and Ikes? Don’t even get me started on Swedish Fish. In a bakery lineup of black forest, angel cake and sponge, give me funfetti.

This may be a spontaneous self-diagnosis, but I’m pinning my affinity for colourful sweets to making up for lost time.

It might explain why, when I thought to make doughnuts, I had in mind the pink, whimsical, sprinkle-coated kinds we all know and love from cartoons.

In the making

I started the first time ’round with this recipe from King Arthur Flour. The result, although un-photographed, was a light and airy cake-like doughnut, made even more delicious with rainbow sprinkles.

Following this success, I tried switching it up with this recipe from Easy as Apple Pie. How could I resist — hers are decorated, arranged and pictured to perfection. The process, however, wasn’t as simple for me:

✘ For an even bake and less mess, I scooped the batter into a pastry bag to pipe right into the pans. Warning, the batter came out so thin and runny, it dripped endlessly out the other end as I was filling the bag.

✘ Be sure to grease your pans thoroughly. Those guys won’t want to come out otherwise, and your glaze will be crumby.

✔ Even after its time in the oven, the doughnuts will look pale and uncooked. Use a knife or toothpick to test the inside.

✔ The whiteness of the doughnut made the bright pink icing look even brighter. Be sure to glaze the top of the doughnut (the part not touching the pan) for best results.

✔ The icing is thick and dries shiny, but still very drippy! Don’t expect the doughnut dipping to be clean and tidy. My hand looked like a wax candle at one point.

With all this in mind, see my adapted recipe below, which combines the best of both doughnut successes!

The recipe

Baked vanilla doughnuts

  • Servings: 12-14
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A light, cakey spin on the classic sweet treat


    For the doughnuts
  • 4 tablespoons (57 grams) of butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup of vegetable oil
  • ½ cup (99 grams) caster sugar or granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup (71 grams) brown sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ⅔ (319 grams) cup all-purpose flour

  •  For the icing

  • 1 cup (80 grams) powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk, or as needed


  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Grease two doughnut pans.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until smooth. Continue mixing and slowly add vegetable oil.
  3. Add the eggs, beating to combine.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Stir the flour into the butter mixture alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour and making sure everything is thoroughly combined. The batter will be fairly thick; when you draw your spatula through the batter, it will leave a furrow. Add sprinkles or chocolate chips if you like!
  6. Spoon the batter into the lightly greased doughnut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4″ shy of the rim.
  7. Bake the doughnuts for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and wait 5 to 7 minutes before turning them out of the pans onto a rack.
  8. For the icing, whisk together the powdered sugar and vanilla extract
  9. Whisk in one tablespoon of milk at a time, maintaining a thick consistency. Continue adding ½ tablespoon milk if it’s still too thick
  10. Add your desired food colouring and mix thoroughly
  11. Dip doughnuts straight into the bowl of icing, using a spatula to scrape excess off the sides
  12. Top off with sprinkles!

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