The other day my mom gave me half of a butternut squash that she had roasted in her oven. Of course my mind went to Vegan MoFo and what I could make with the squash. Soup? sure. Mash it up for baby? Yes (I did with some of it). But I immediately wanted to make something sweet with it. And then, doughnuts came to mind. I had never had butternut squash in a pastry before, but I figured if it worked with pumpkin it would work with squash. Sure enough, it did. The end result? Yummy, little doughnuts with a sweet-potato-like flavor.
I made a quick and easy apple cider and brown sugar glaze for these lil’ monsters and sprinkled a bit of cinnamon-sugar on top of it for good measure. I do have a doughnut cutter, somewhere, but I didn’t use it. Instead, I used a regular-size mason jar ring lid and a large frosting tip for the doughnut holes. This made small-sized doughnuts. If you’d rather larger doughnuts, you could cut the dough with a large mug instead (I will do this next time because I think I’d prefer bigger sized d’nuts). Also, I’m pretty sure you could substitute the squash for sweet potato or pumpkin with this recipe – if you’d like to.
Butternut Squash Doughnuts with Apple Cider Glaze
makes 35 small-sized doughnuts
1 cup butternut squash puree (how-to roast a butternut squash)
1/4 c. vegan butter (I used Earth Balance soy-free)
1/2 c. almond milk
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 – 1/4 oz. package rapid-rise active dry yeast
3/4 c. natural brown sugar
2 Tbsp. natural sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 -to- 4 1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
For the glaze:
1/2 c. apple cider
3/4 c. brown sugar
pinch of sea salt
*If frying doughnuts, you will need either a dutch oven, a deep stock pot, or a deep fryer; and 3-5 cups of canola oil (depending on the fryer or pot size). Basically you’ll need enough oil for the doughnuts to swim in nicely and fry to perfection. If you are using a dutch oven or a stock pot, you will also need a candy thermometer hooked on the side. If your oil gets too hot, your doughnuts will burn up really fast.
In a small sauce pan on low heat, melt the vegan butter. Add the almond milk and heat till just-warm. Pour into a large bowl and sprinkle in yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes till foamy. Add the sugars, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla and whisk well. Then whisk in the butternut squash puree.
Using a stand mixer with a dough attachment, add the flour a cup at a time until a dough forms. I needed a full 4 1/2 cups of flour for these, but it was humid here and you may only need 3 1/2 cups, so start with that amount first. If dough is very wet and doesn’t come together, add more flour. You want a nice, soft dough that is not sticky. If you don’t have a stand mixer, knead dough on a floured surface for 10 minutes. If you do have a stand mixer, knead dough for 5-7 minutes. Form dough into a ball, place it back in the bowl, cover with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise for 1-2 hour(s).
When you come back, your dough should have expanded. Line 2 baking pans with parchment paper (for the doughnuts to rest on). Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Using a doughnut cutter (mason jar lid, mug, or other circular device) cut the dough into circles. Poke holes in the middle of the circles using the bottom of a frosting tip (or your finger, really). Lay the doughnuts on the baking sheets and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise another hour.
While the doughnuts are rising the second time, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and the apple cider and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved. Add the salt. Turn off heat, cover and set aside until ready to glaze the doughnuts.
You can bake the doughnuts if you wish by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F and baking them for 10 minutes. Or, you can do what I did and fry ’em. Lay out a large sheet of paper (I used a brown paper grocery bag) for the doughnuts to drain on. Also set out 2 baking/cooling racks on top of 2 baking sheets for the after-glaze doughnuts. Heat oil to 340 degrees. Drop in doughnuts one by one, about 4 or 5 at a time will fit in the pot. Fry about 30 seconds per side until golden in color. Strain with a slotted spoon onto the paper to drain. Repeat for all doughnuts and doughnut holes (the holes will fry up a lot faster). While doughnuts are still hot, dip them in the glaze and lay out on cooling racks. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if desired (optional but makes a pretty looking doughnut).
And that’s that. Whew. It seems like it’s a lot of work, and I can’t lie, it kind of was. If you want less work for yourself, I’d suggest baking these doughnuts instead of frying them. Either way, they are delicious. Honestly, I think they are even better the next day. I was told they are yummy dunked into cold almond milk. You could make them for a breakfast or brunch party; or to take-along on a family fall outing to the pumpkin farm. I imagine they would pair perfectly with hot apple cider.
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