I am not big on doughnuts but I am big on baker Amy Scherber, and I am big on changing the rhythms of what my kids eat—or don’t eat for breakfast—especially on school mornings, when my wife impersonates an oshiya, pushing our kids out of bed, out of the kitchen, and out the door.
Amy Scherber was inspired by the lowfat craze to create a recipe for applesauce doughnuts that are baked, not fried in hot oil. Health concerns aside, applesauce, apple juice, and maple syrup in this recipe provide for a moist, great tasting doughnut.
My wife brought home a free bag of barely blemished apples from the farmer’s market, a perfect excuse for making applesauce—even if I wasn’t baking Amy’s doughnuts. I never tire of the simple and meditative act of peeling and coring apples, and tossing them into a pot with about an inch of water and a stick or two of cinnamon. I cook them at a simmer until they’re soft and then mash them with a potato masher, adding water if the consistency is too thick. The aroma always lures everyone into the kitchen.
I baked the doughnuts in miniature Bundt molds without holes in the middle, because this is what we have. I’m sure a muffin tin would work also, aesthetics aside. I thought about punching in holes after they baked but decided they looked fine. Ok, I confess that I came to that conclusion after taking an olive pitter out of the drawer, feeling like a fool following his folly.
The first morning that we served them, my son groaned his way into the kitchen, exhausted and still cranky from the previous night’s geometry homework. When I asked if he liked his doughnut, he responded with a noise that sounded like it was in the earliest stage of speech development. He continued to chew and read the sports section—a yes in any language. He inquired, a few days later, if we still had any doughnuts left for breakfast. I was overjoyed to hear that he regained his ability to talk.
Let whimsy guide you in how you serve them. My wife cut up pears and drizzled yogurt and homemade candied pecans on the tops of the doughnuts.
Lowfat or not, these are still very popular in Amy’s bakeries. I think they will also be popular in your home. Don’t keep them a secret. Share them at brunches, potlucks, bake sales, or when you want to score extra points with your co-workers. You can even bring them for snack to your child’s soccer or baseball team – they sure beat the usual high-fructose laden treats that are often given to the kids.
Lowfat Applesauce Doughnuts (from The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread)
21⁄2 cups (365 g/112.87 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
11⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
1⁄2 teaspoon ginger
1⁄2 teaspoon mace
1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg
1⁄4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup (265 g/9.35 oz) applesauce
3⁄4 cup (145 g/5.11 oz) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1⁄2 cup (115 g/4 oz) apple juice*
1⁄3 cup (85 g/3 oz) nonfat buttermilk
1⁄3 cup (115 g/4 oz) maple syrup
3 tablespoons (40 g/1.41 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Superfine sugar for coating pans
1. Position one rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare the pans. Spray evenly with nonstick spray and coat with plenty of superfine sugar, if available; otherwise use regular granulated sugar. Shake out the excess.
2. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, mace, nutmeg, and allspice and whisk together.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, add the applesauce, brown sugar, eggs, apple juice, buttermilk, syrup, butter, and vanilla and mix well to combine.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk together just until the batter is smooth.
5. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans, using approximately 1⁄3 cup per doughnut. The recipe says to bake for 10 minutes, rotating the pans from front to back after 5 minutes, but you might want to allow extra time. Ours took about twice that. The doughnuts are done if they spring back when touched lightly on the top. Their tops should not be browned. Let the pans cool for 5 minutes, then turn the doughnuts out and place them on a wire rack to cool. Enjoy them warm from the oven or eat them within 6 to 8 hours. (Ours were still fine a few days later. I reheated them briefly in the toaster oven.) You can probably even mix the ingredients together, refrigerate and bake in the morning.
* We didn’t have apple juice, so I juiced an orange.