Cinnamon-Sugar Gingerbread Doughnuts

Prior to this weekend we were seriously slacking in the fall decorations department here. Oh sure, there were about a million and one leaves covering the lawn (which were super fun to rake all weekend…) but that was about the extent of it. I usually buy lots of pumpkins and mums to make things feel festive inside and out; this year we’ve been so busy it just hadn’t happened yet.

With Halloween only a few days away I was this close to just skipping it entirely but Shane convinced me we at least had to get a few pumpkins to decorate. We stopped carving our pumpkins years ago and now use potato head push-in sets, which are about 100 times faster and easier and still pretty darn cute. Plus, the pumpkins don’t rot anywhere near as quickly as when we used to carve them up. His and hers!

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I may not have been on the ball with the decorations, but I have been baking with the flavors of the season plenty. It’s not just pumpkin and apple either – there have been a ton of soups, stews, and other comfort foods and a few weeks ago I even broke out the gingerbread. It may be a little early but just I couldn’t wait any longer to make these gingerbread doughnuts! Can you blame me? :)

Cinnamon-Sugar Gingerbread Doughnuts

We’re going all out and frying here – I’m not one to shun baked doughnuts, but sometimes you’ve just gotta fry, and these gingerbread doughnuts are 100% worth it. These are cake doughnuts so no yeast to worry about, it’s as simple as mixing the wet and dry ingredients then combining them to make the dough. You do need to chill the sticky dough for about an hour to make it easier to work with though, so plan ahead accordingly.

Cinnamon-Sugar Gingerbread Doughnuts

These gingerbread doughnuts are definitely giving last year’s pumpkin doughnuts stiff competition for favorite fall breakfast treat. They’re both awesome and worthy of your time, I can’t choose between them. The gingerbread doughnuts are so flavorful, packed with a ton of warm fall spices plus molasses and brown sugar. Crisp on the outside with a delicious cinnamon-sugar coating, and oh so tender inside – fair warning, you’ll end up popping the doughnut holes into your mouth one after another :)

Cinnamon-Sugar Gingerbread Doughnuts

Like almost all things fried, these gingerbread doughnuts are at their best when fresh, but they had more staying power than most other doughnuts I’ve made in the past. I thought they were still quite good even a day later. And maybe even beyond that but I’ll never know since they didn’t have a chance to last that long here…

Cinnamon-Sugar Gingerbread Doughnuts
adapted from Gingerbread by Jennifer Lindner McGlinn

Doughnuts
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
1 cup sour cream (light is fine)
oil for frying

Cinnamon-Sugar Coating
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the brown sugar, molasses, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until the mixture is smooth. With the mixer running, drizzle in the butter and continue mixing until the butter is completely incorporated. Add the sour cream in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between the additions. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, mixing just until a uniform, but rough dough comes together – it will be sticky.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes (or up to overnight) before continuing with the recipe.

Add enough oil to a large Dutch oven to measure about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in depth. Set the pan over medium heat. Let it start getting hot while you cut out the doughnuts – you’re looking to get it to between 350 and 360 F on a candy thermometer. Prep the coating by stirring the sugar and cinnamon together in a wide bowl.

Meanwhile, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. It’ll likely be a little tacky so you may need to add flour as you go. Roll the dough until it is about 1/2-inch thick (lifting and turning as you go to make sure it’s not sticking). Use a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut rounds from the dough (you’ll probably want to flour the cutter). To cut the holes in the center of the doughnuts use a 1-inch cutter (or something even slightly larger). The doughnuts puff quite a bit in the oil and if you cut the center hole too small, it’ll close up almost entirely in the oil while cooking. Save the centers – you can make doughnut holes with them! Gather and reroll the scraps to cut more doughnuts. If the dough gets too soft or warm to work with at any time, just pop it in the fridge briefly.

When the oil reaches the desired temperature, add a few doughnuts at a time and fry them for 4 minutes total (flipping once so both sides cook evenly), or until brown and cooked through. Use a spider strainer to remove the doughnuts from the oil and transfer to a paper towel-lined cooking rack. Let the oil come back up to temperature before continuing to fry more doughnuts. The doughnuts holes will require less time to cook, about 1-2 minutes total (remember to flip at least once).

When the doughnuts are still slightly warm, coat them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture on both sides. The doughnuts are best shortly after being fried.

Makes about 20 doughnuts and 20 doughnut holes