Belgians don’t really have anything with donuts. Sure, they’re sold in bakeries and supermarkets here, but I -personally at least- never really had any real affection towards the deep-fried treats.
Then again maybe I’m not the best person to ask because I don’t often like any of the sweet things bakers sell. I’ve never been a fan of what the English speaking countries call Danish pastries, and what we call boterkoeken or koffiekoeken. I always think it’s a very Belgian thing, those boterkoeken. Our bakeries and delis are filled with them much more than they seem to be in other countries. I always find them such a waste of puff pastry. There are only a few things in this life that are better than puff pastry, but it has to be filled with something savory. Chicken pie, sausage rolls, spinach puffs. YUM.
But I digress: donuts. I’m pretty sure the only reason I even knew they existed as a kid was because of The Simpsons. My brother and I watched the show religiously when we were kids. A Belgian television channel would air two episodes back to back every day, sometimes twice a day (early mornings, before school, and then early evenings, after school). And the idea we had of donuts was basically that they were pink and had sprinkles on them. Oh, and police officers seemed to really love them too, according to the television.
They come off as a very American thing, so I was surprised to learn -during my research for this post- that some people believe it’s the Dutch settlers who introduced the snack in America. Huh. While I’m not Dutch, I do feel pretty related to my neighbors up North (a shared language and a close friend in the country will do that to a person). Then I read that the Dutch oliebollen and Flemish smoutebollen are kind of our version of the donut, and those I do really like. Dutch people usually eat oliebollen (oil balls) on New Year’s eve. When my Dutch friend Heleen came to spend New Year’s Eve (and my brithday) with me in Belgium she brought some with her to share. We Belgians eat our smoutebollen (lard balls) mostly at fairs and carnivals. Grease and sugar, what more can a person ask for?
Despite the fact that I’m not the biggest donut fan, I saw this mini-donut baking tray and immediately thought it was too adorable to pass. Because if there is one thing about donuts that does appeal to me is how cute they look. I did some research and apparently deep-frying isn’t the only way to make donuts. (Deep fried donuts are either made by rolling out a sausage and connecting the two ends, or by rolling out the dough and cutting out the donuts with a donut-form). These donut trays are used to make cake donuts. Cake? Yeah – after I head you could almost immediately count me in! Though they aren’t like “real” donuts, I still found them incredibly cute, and really tasty!
I decided to try out two recipes. Each could fill the mini-donut baking tray three times (so that’s 72 donuts in total!) I adapted the chocolate batter from a recipe I found here, and the cinnamon one from this recipe! I changed the amount of baking powder and the oven temperature!
Chocolate Baked Donuts
3/4 cup of all purpose flour
1/4 cup of (non-sweetened) cocoa powder
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
4 tablespoons of canola oil (koolzaad olie)*
Cinnamon Baked Donuts
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1/2 cup of semi-skimmed milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
4 tablespoons of corn oil*
* I used corn oil in one of the batters, because it’s more common in Belgium, and canola oil in the other to see if there’d be a difference. I can’t say I noticed a lot of difference, so I think any vegetable oil should be fine!
It’s pretty much the same for both batters: mix the flour (or flour + cocoa), the sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the egg, the milk and the vanilla extract – mix this for about a minute, making sure everything is incorporated. Then add the 4 table spoons of the oil and mix until you have a nice smooth (runny) batter.
Bake the mini donuts for 7 to 9 minutes (I found 7 was more than enough) at 190°C/200°C. Every oven is different so you might have to test this out a bit. The original recipe suggested a much higher temperature, which resulted in my first batch of chocolate mini donuts being over-baked and tough.
As you can see they don’t have the perfect donut shape because they rise in the oven.
You can cover this up perfectly by dipping them into chocolate. (Also: the chocolate makes them better.)
The tea set I got from Hilde, so beautiful!