A couple weeks ago I had Christiann from Portland Fresh over to make some old fashioned buttermilk donuts. We’d met through instagram (yay instagram friends!) a couple months ago and have quickly bonded since then over our love of food and the northwest. Once we started in the kitchen, though, our culinary curiosity got the better of us and we went from plain old buttermilk donuts to rosemary donuts with a balsamic pomegranate glaze, salted honey donut holes, and cinnamon + sugar ones, too. Whew! What we thought would take a couple hours ended up taking all day due to our chattiness and all the fun we were having (we may have launched some of the donut holes into bowls of powdered sugar to see what happened/take photos of them), and we were still shooting as the sun went down.
I’d never made actual fried donuts before this, sure I’ve baked them a few times, but I’ve always been slightly intimidated by the idea of deep-frying food. The idea of having all that hot oil on my stove always scared me a little, to be honest; but I am here to tell you that there is no need to be frightened, and you don’t even need a deep fryer. There are a few things you do need, though, and that is a vegetable oil with a low smoking point (like canola oil) that’s good for frying, a candy thermometer, tongs, and a large pot that can handle high heat to fry the donuts in. Trying to deep fry something without one of those things will be extremely, extremely difficult and probably kind of dangerous. And after you’re done frying and the oil has completely cooled, you can pour it back into its container and reuse it two or three times (depending on how long it’s at a high temperature) to fry other foods. Hurray recycling!
I am so glad I decided to try my hand at frying them myself, because there is nothing in the world that will make your kitchen smell as good as a freshly fried rosemary donut. It’s sweet, floral, herbal, and bread-like…basically everything you would want your kitchen to smell like. And the taste is even better. I had some of the donut holes fresh from the fryer without any glaze whatsoever and they were glorious. Add in the sweet and sour tang of the pomegranate balsamic glaze, and they created pretty much the best donuts we’d ever had…but then we coated half the donut holes in cinnamon & sugar and the other half in honey and sea salt and it became very difficult to determine which we liked best. A good problem to have, indeed.
So please don’t let the large pot of hot oil on your stovetop intimidate you, I assure you that a homemade donut is worth every moment of effort. I hope you enjoy looking through this donut photo essay as much as we enjoyed shooting it, and a very special thanks to Christiann for sharing some of her photos with me for this post! You can take a look at her post here, too!
Buttermilk Rosemary Donuts + Balsamic Pomegranate Glaze + Salted Honey & Cinnamon Sugar Donut Holes & Baking with Portland Fresh
Buttermilk Rosemary Donuts
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/4 cardamom
- 5 cups flour
- canola oil for frying
Pomegranate Balsamic Concentrate
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
- Pomegranate Balsamic Glaze
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 4 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic concentrate
- 4 teaspoons pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon water
- about 1 tablespoon sea salt for garnish
Cinnamon + Sugar
- 1 cup powdered sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- First, make the Pomegranate Balsamic Concentrate. Simmer the pomegranate juice and sugar over low heat for 20-30 minutes until reduced by about half. Stir in 2 teaspoon thick aged balsamic and set aside to cool completely.
- To prepare the donuts, beat the eggs and sugar together until smooth. Mix in the sour cream, buttermilk, and vanilla extract. Add all the remaining ingredients except the flour, mixing until completely combined. Add the flour about 1 cup at a time, mixing until it is just incorporated into the dough. Set aside and cover for 1 hour to proof.
- Roll the dough out until it is about ½ inch thick. Cut the donut shapes out of the dough using a donut cutter. Seperate the donut and donut hole shapes. Heat a deep fryer with canola oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. The oil should be at least 3 inches deep in the pan, but should be at least 5 inches away from the top of the pan. Fry donuts until golden brown and puffy on each side, about 3-4 minutes. Remove and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Repeat with the donut holes.
- Allow to cool to room temperature on wire racks with paper towels lined underneath them. While they are cooling prepare the glaze.
- To make the Pomegranate Balsamic Glaze, whisk together all ingredients until a thin glaze forms. To thin out the glaze, add a teaspoon or two more pomegranate juice. To thicken the glaze, add a bit more powdered sugar.
- Using tongs, take each donut and dip one side of it in the bowl of pomegranate balsamic glaze, placing it back on the rack glazed-side up. Repeat with all the remaining donuts. Serve immediately.
- To make the honey glaze, pour the honey and water into a heat-proof bowl and warm in the microwave on high for about 30 seconds. The mixture should appear watery and less syrupy in texture.
- Take half of the donut holes and dip them in the warm honey, placing them back on the rack glazed-side up. Sprinkle each with a pinch of sea salt.
- Roll the remaining half of the donut holes in the cinnamon and sugar mixture until coated. Serve all donuts immediately.