These chocolate cake donuts use a batter that is very thick, it looks more like a cookie dough than a cake batter. This is the way it should be. This way you can cut out the donuts easily and they will keep their shape.
This recipe is based on one that I learned whil taking a donut course at the Chopping block.
- 4 eggs
- 200g sugar
- 45g butter (melted, easiest to do this in a microwave, but do it in short time intervals to prevent burning or splashing it)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 30ml very strong espresso
- 50ml buttermilk*
- 300g all purpose flour
- 125g cocoa powder**
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Frying oil (e.g. sunflower or canola)
- Cream together the sugar and eggs. This will take at least 5 minutes with an electric mixer and during creaming you will see the mixture turning a whitish colour (as opposed to the yellow it starts out as). You do this to incorporate a lot of air bubbles in the mixture. You will press out a lot of the air again, but this will mostly make the air bubbles smaller, not make them disappear completely.
- Add the butter and mix it through. You won’t have to mix this for long. You just want to make sure the butter is dispersed through before adding the rest of the liquid since it will be harder to mix it in from then.
- Add the vanilla and buttermilk.
- From now on you want to limit further mixing to prevent over mixing. Add all the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, baking soda) and either mix them through on a low speed with your electric mixer or fold them through by hand. The mixture will become quite thick and dense.
- Take a flat tray and lightly oil the tray. You need this oil to prevent the dough from sticking to the tray (you can also put parchment paper under the dough, but also be sure to oil that!).
- Place the dough on the tray and flatten it to about 1cm thickness. You can do this with your hands (easiest if you wet them slightly) or a rolling pin.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a plastic bag (not a towel, that doesn’t prevent moisture loss) and put in the fridge to firm up. Wait until it’s properly firm (generally takes about 30 minutes, but if it’s very warm in your kitchen, take a little longer). You can also leave it in for a few days.
- Use a cookie cutter/glass/bowl to cut out large rounds of about 7-8cm diameter and use a smaller cutter (2-3 cm) to cut out the centers.*** If you would only like small round cake donuts use a cutter with a diameter of about 2,5 cm (remember, they will puff up in the fryer). Cut close to the sides so you have as little scraps as possible. Take the scraps at the end and form them together into a new flat surface and continue cutting to throw away as little dough as you can.
- Place the cut out parts on a lightly floured or oiled surface to prevent them from sticking until you use them.
- Fry the dough in a large pot of oil. Keep the temperature between 170-190C (=340-380F) to ensure the donut gets cooked evenly (here’s why temperature control is essential).
- These donuts have a dark colour of themselves so you can’t use colour as a guide for readiness. Instead the donuts should have risen up to the surface of the oil and started cracking on the top. That’s when you turn it over once, leave it for another minute or so and it’s ready.
- Leave to cool on a rack.
- Decorate as desired & enjoy!
*You use buttermilk to make your dough somewhat acidic. You need this for the baking soda to work well (read more here). If you don’t have buttermilk you can replace it with 45ml of milk with 5 ml (=1 tsp) lemon juice).
** The cocoa powder will impact the flavour of your donut a lot so make sure you use a cocoa powder with a flavour you like. There are a lot of differences between cocoa powders out there!
*** These types of donuts need to have their holes cut out if you are making large ones. If not they won’t cook properly in the center.