Baked Apple Donuts

Finely chopped apple pieces baked into a donut that you’re going to love. They smell incredible and the flavors are reminiscent of an apple fritter, but without all that grease flavor and texture. The donuts are light, fluffy, moist, and melt in your mouth. The best part is that they are vegan and can be easily made gluten free so that everyone can enjoy them! No weird ingredients either.

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I love donuts. Fluffy and sweet and iconic. My grandfather would pick up a box every weekend and as a whole family we’d sample all the varieties. Little nibbles from each. So, I guess donuts hit that nostalgia button inside me. What I don’t love, and maybe this is just me getting older, is the horrible heartburn I get from bakery fried donuts. Plus, it’s hard to find vegan bakeries. Baked donuts are really easy to make and they don’t have all that grease. Maybe you like the grease. No judgment. I just don’t like to feel my esophagus burning out.

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The only specialty item you’ll need is a donut pan, but those are easy to come by. Most big box stores carry them or you can order one online. I suggest getting two because it is easier to bake 12 donuts all at once than two batches of six. The batter is best if it’s cooked all at once rather than sitting while the baking powder loses efficacy.

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I’m a bad blogger here. I didn’t take process pictures. I know. I know. Ya’ll love to see the process. But, really, there’s not much to this one. Mix a bunch of stuff together, pour it into a donut pan, bake it, eat it. There’s really no tricks to it. However, this does ruin my ad space. I could just blather on for a bit about my childhood or what I did over the weekend. I know you love that. Amiright.

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Baked vs Fried

The cooking process determines the texture of both the crust, the outside, and the crumb, the inside, of the donut. A fried donut is going to have a more tough crust with some crispiness to it. The majority of the heat hits that outer layer of dough which keeps cooking while the moisture is trapped inside. The result is a more creamy, still cooked, crumb. The problem though is that donut dough is porous and the oil does get inside and stays inside. Delicious, sure, but it makes the donut feel more heavy when eating and can, like me, give you wicked heartburn.

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Baked donuts have a more consistent crust to crumb texture. This is because moisture evenly leaves the batter as it cooks and the oven allows steam to escape, unlike oil. Baked donuts have less of a saturated fat content and you can more easily determine what the actual ingredients are if you’re looking at tracking nutrients. It’s hard to tell how much oil is actually in a fried donut. Baked donuts are more cake like and aren’t as structurally stable as a fried donut. Tender is a good word for them. The biggest perk, I think, is that baked donuts can be a bit more creative in terms of the batter since you’re not worried about undercooking like in a deep fryer. If you’ve noticed, fried donuts tend to have more bland donut but then topped with a flavored frosting and other bits and pieces.

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Looking for a fried donut version? Check out this post!

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Is one better than the other? It’s truly preference. Is one more healthy? Who cares. It’s a donut. If you’re making a “healthy” donut then your donut probably sucks. Just enjoy it and don’t mess around with sugar substitutes and all these other things to Frankenstein a recipe. It’s a donut. Let it be a donut. Eat a salad later if you want to balance it out.

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No real tips or tricks for this recipe. It’s pretty straightforward. The only suggestion I have is to cut your apple pieces really small. If they are big, they won’t bake, and you’ll have hot crunchies in your soft donut. For reference, think of diced onions and that size. Maybe even a little smaller.

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Baked Apple Donuts

These baked donuts are like apple pie in donut form. Baked, so you don't need to mess with hot grease, and quick to throw together for a fun breakfast or snack. They are vegan and can be gluten free.
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine American
Keyword breakfast, donut, vegan
Prep Time – 20 mins
Cook Time – 20 mins
Total Time – 40 mins
Servings – 12 donuts

Equipment

  • 2 6 mold donut pan Can use one, but two makes it easier.

Ingredients

  • 2 medium apples, chopped fine
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (can use GF baking blend)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more cinnamon)
  • 3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I prefer oat milk)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (I use Earth Balance vegan butter)
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce

Glaze (optional)

  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • *1 tablespoon shortening (if you want it more like frosting than thin glaze)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly spray your donut pans with oil. Set aside.
  • Chop apples into fine pieces. Pea gravel size. They need to be small so that they bake soft in the short baking time. You will have roughly 2 cups of apples. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pumpkin pie spice. In a separate bowl mix together the milk, apple sauce, and melted butter.
  • Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until mostly combined. Add in the apple pieces and fold until no dry ingredients can be seen and the apples are well incorporated.
  • Divide the batter evenly between 12 donut molds. The batter should come roughly right to the tray top and potentially a little mounded.
  • Bake on the middle rack for 15-17 minutes. The donuts should looked lightly browned and not wet. Test for doneness with a toothpick by inserting into a donut. If it comes out clean then they are done. Bake for 2 minutes more if needed.
  • Remove pans from oven and place on a wire cooling rack. Allow to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Remove donuts from pan and transfer to a wire cooling rack to fully cool before adding the glaze/frosting. Eat and enjoy!
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