My Baked Doughnut Confessions

I’ve been riding a baked doughnut pan roller coaster of emotions.

I have always loved doughnuts. In fact, I even work at a specialty doughnut shop. The owner typically makes fried cake and yeast donuts, but also bakes these little, gluten-free donuts on Fridays. I’ve never tried one because they’re in such high demand and limited quantities; I want the people who actually need them to have them. What I have noticed is that they are light in texture and fluffy. I began to assume baked donuts were all just so.

Baked donuts enticed me at work while baked doughnut recipes filled my social media feeds. Finally, I bought a doughnut pan for myself. It only cost about $7 on Amazon. When the package arrived, I ripped open the box with zeal and admired my new pan. I hugged the pan and reassured it that we’d have a happy life together.

The first recipe I prepared was a highly and muchly ranked one that appeared near the top of my Google search results. I prepared the batter and carefully spooned it into the molds. Then, I created a fresh citrus glaze while they baked. The donuts looked picture perfect.

first baked donuts

They received accolades online. But, the actual donuts tasted horrible. Doughy, floury, dense, and bland.

“Maybe they’re not so bad,” I thought and asked Jake to taste-test one when he got home.  He took one bite and made a face. You know, the type where you crinkle up your face and freeze like a statue. “The glaze is good,” he added.

Later that week, I tried again and prepared a different recipe. This one, too, appeared at the top of my search results. The proportion of ingredients was totally different from the first recipe I tried and I felt hopeful.

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One blog post offering baked doughnut-making tips reassured me that the batter is supposed to be thick. I whipped together another citrus glaze and put the finishing touches on my second batch. The pastry tasted much better, but was still doughy and dense. At least these were edible. Most things are with coffee.

“Am I missing something regarding baked donuts?” I asked the universe.

Two friends in the Des Moines area raved about the baked donuts Joe Formaro creates at Djonuts. This shop is currently on hiatus. None of us are sure what Formaro’s secret to making not-gross baked doughnuts is.

I read some blog posts encouraging those of us who are new (or frustrated) on our baked doughnut journey to remember that they will not taste like fried donuts, that they will taste “healthier.” That we should accept baked doughnut for what they are. . . which, in my newly formed opinion, were pastries that were worse tasting than cake and not as good as fried doughnuts.

One friend encouraged me to think of creating other foods in my baked doughnut pan and try baking a different cake recipe than ones specifically titled “baked doughnuts.”

However, even lighter baked donuts can’t win! Even when they’re Ina Garten’s recipe. In the comments section people still complained that hers were too light and muffin-like. I’d rather eat a muffiny baked doughnut than dense ones, but that could just be me.

Muffin batter it was. I prepared Dine & Dish’s recipe for Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from (83 good reviews can’t like, right?) and spooned the batter into my doughnut pan.

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The finished pastries are light, moist, and fluffy. Essentially, they’re doughnut shaped muffins, but I’ll be damned if they aren’t dense and doughy.

So, there you have it. My secret to making baked doughnut is using a muffin batter recipe.


  1. Beth Ann Chiles

    Thanks so much for doing all the research for us!!! I am glad you figured out the secret is to just make round muffins. ?

  2. Joe Flaa

    Ask Jake about the doughnut’s his Grandmother use to make. Hopefully he’ll have fond memories of them.

  3. Betsy

    I giggled my way through this post. Good luck with all of your doughnut adventures! Still wishing I could escape to your 90s music and doughnut shop today! 🙂

  4. Mary

    my grandma makes the most delicious doughnuts (fried of course). love that you conquered baked donut shaped muffins! 😉
    also why am I not following you on snapchat?!?

  5. Todd

    Did you ever find a better recipe? I had the exact same experience. Tried to make baked red velvet donuts and that was a complete bust. Plus they dry out so quick they are only decent (not good) right after they are made.

    • Jeni

      I did not. I just stick with muffins, fried doughnuts, and other pastries that aren’t healthified;)

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