Monday, October 24, 2016

Baking With The Littles

Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

Dunkin' Donuts need not worry. Our doughnuts are not going to win a competition with them. And in terms of mess, this might rank right up there with play-dough or finger paint, but it was a grand way to spend an afternoon in the kitchen with Little Sister. I put Baby Girl in the bed for her nap and we went to work.

I saw a recipe video last week and thought it was perfect for grandchild baking. It's so simple that I didn't even save the video. It's easy enough to remember without writing it down. It uses only two ingredients, plus whatever you use for a topping.

Mix the dry cake mix and the can of pumpkin together "until it's all orange," advises Little Sister. Be smarter than I was and use a big bowl. I knew when we started that I should have pulled out the bigger bowl, but this one was on top. And it was orange which matched the pumpkin color. I couldn't resist. Next time, I'd use the hand mixer, too, just to speed things along. But it totally doable with a spoon.

Spoon the very thick batter into a gallon ziplock bag and snip off a corner. Squeeze the batter into rings in a greased doughnut pan. Yes. She really did this by herself.

Bake at 350 degrees for 13-17 minutes, or until done. Test by gently pressing the top of a doughnut with your fingertip. If it springs back, it's ready. I must admit, I took them out, thinking they were done, removed three from the pan and decided they needed a couple of minutes more in the oven. Even with all of that manhandling, they turned out fine.

Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then remove to a rack and cool. Little Sister looked at these and squealed, "Mimi! They look like giant cheerios!" I think she was right.

By this time, Baby Girl had shouted the words guaranteed to make me go upstairs and get her out of the crib. "Mimi! I need to go potty!!!" And once she was up, there was no going back. We were almost finished with our doughnuts anyway. We decided to use powdered sugar for our finish. Put some powdered sugar in a bag and add a few doughnuts and shake to coat. Little Sister did them two at a time.

You could also make a simple glaze and pour over the doughnuts. Or, sift a little powdered sugar on top and drizzle with a little caramel topping. We tried one rolled in cinnamon sugar. It tasted good, but the cinnamon sugar didn't want to stick to the doughnut.

Baby Girl was ready to get in the game by now. We let her tap the sugared doughnuts to remove the excess sugar. That seemed to be a good two-year-old job.

After tapping the sugar off two of them, she decided that helping wasn't much fun as she thought. It was more fun to eat them. You might also notice that during her faux nap, she had taken off her shirt, turned it inside out and put it back on. Clever girl can dress herself now.

After her afternoon's work, Little Sister finally sat down to try her very own pumpkin spice doughnut. And she gave it a thumbs up. We all agreed with her.


1 box spice cake mix (or yellow or chocolate cake mix—your choice)
1 (15-oz) can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)

Mix dry cake mix and canned pumpkin in a large bowl until thoroughly blended. Batter will be very thick. Spoon batter into a gallon ziplock bag. Snip off a corner of the bag. Squeeze to pipe batter into the greased doughnut pan. (I sprayed it with Baker's Joy.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 13 to 17 minutes, until done. (The size of your doughnut "cups" and amount of batter you add will determine the baking time.) To test, press the top of a doughnut gently with your fingertip. It will spring back when it's done. Remove doughnuts to a cooling rack.

Put about a half cup of powdered sugar in another bag. Add cooled doughnuts, a few at a time and shake to coat. Remove from bag and tap gently to remove excess sugar.

Let the small baker eat a doughnut. Turn on Nick Jr. or Disney Channel and let the littles watch TV while you clean up the kitchen.

 For us, this recipe yielded 12 doughnuts and four muffins.

Last words about these doughnuts:

  • Eat them sitting at the table. If you eat one while walking around, you'll leave a trail of powdered  sugar behind you. Mommy has dark wood floors in her house. There was no sneaking a doughnut yesterday. The sugar trail gave me away.
  •  If you aren't eating them all within a few hours, shake them in the sugar just before you plan to eat them. This morning, all of the pretty white sugar coating had been absorbed by the doughnuts. Now they are looking kind of naked
  • If you don't own a doughnut pan (and how many people do?) you can buy them at kitchen stores and discount stores with a decent kitchen wear selection. They are also available to order online from places like Walmart, Amazon, Target, Bed/Bath/And/Beyond, etc. I found this one for $10 at a kitchen store at an outlet mall. Ours made a dozen doughnuts. The ones I saw online varied in size. And while it sounded like a crazy purchase, I really do think we will use it again. It was easy to make these and the pan was easy to clean. Easier than a muffin pan. No corners.



  1. That looks like a fun baking experience. I've not seen that kind of baking pan either. Love the thumbs up!

    1. It was fun. So easy to give such delicious results. High school age big sister packed a couple of the doughnuts in her lunch the day after we baked them. Came home from school talking about how good they were. Worth the pan purchase!

  2. What a neat project for little ones to tackle. Would liquid type frosting vs powdered sugar be absorbed into the donut if they were all drizzled at once? Don't like the idea of having to dust with XXXX sugar before eating later. You are my "go to" cook for answers.

    1. I think a glaze or frosting would be fine--same as on a cupcake. I will say that the doughnuts tasted fine on day 2. They just didn't look as pretty.


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