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Ethereal Glazed Sweet Potato Donuts + Giveaway

by Kristina Gill

When I saw celebrated vegan chef and creator of the blog Sweet Potato Soul Jenné Claiborne’s new cookbook, I zeroed in on her recipe for  Sweet Potato Yeast Donuts because, well, donuts!  I’ve had amazing donuts from all parts of the world. It’s not just about the frying technique — it’s also about the dough. The two have to combine to produce a super-soft, puffy treat that is just as soft and supple when it is cool as it is when it is still warm from the fryer. The glaze should be thick enough to provide cover and optical haze, but thin enough to craze into a network of tiny little cracks when you bite into it, much like the glaze on your favorite vintage plate or teacup. And the glaze should complement, not overpower, the dough!

In her first cookbook, Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice and Soul, Jenné has cracked the code on providing that softness in the dough, and the balance of the accompanying glaze thanks to the sweet potato. Now all you have to do is perfect your frying technique and you’ll be much more discerning about where you buy your donuts in the future! —Kristina

Why Jenné loves these donuts: I love this sweet potato donut recipe because it’s easy to devour ([super] delicious), and so fun to make. There’s something so relaxing and enjoyable about kneading dough, and watching it rise. The sweet potato in the batter makes them even more moist and airy. I grew up in Georgia on Krispy Kreme donuts, but these are so much better! 

To win a copy of Sweet Potato Soul, respond in the comments section below to the following question: Describe the best doughnut you’ve ever had: where did you find it and what was it? Plain cake or yeast? Filled or with a hole? Enquiring minds want to know, as this could be valuable intel for future travel!

About Jenné: Jenné Claiborne is a vegan chef, cooking instructor, and the creator of Sweet Potato Soul, the blog and YouTube channel. She studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and founded the personal chef company The Nourishing Vegan, whose clients have included India Arie, Lucy Liu, Lululemon, Soho House, Whole Foods and many more. Her recipes and nutritional advice have been featured on NBC’s Today, in VegNews, Ebony, Vegetarian Times, Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest and on BET. She is the co-creator of Buddhalicious, an eCourse that makes it easy for people to adopt a healthy and delicious vegan diet. Find Jenné on Instagram @sweetpotatosoul, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

{Photography by Sidney Bensimon}

Image above: Sweet Potato Yeast Donuts

Image above: Kneading the dough

Image above: Sprinkling the dough with flour

Image above: Cutting out donut shapes from dough

Image above: Donut shapes with holes cut out in the dough

Image above: Jenné Claiborne

Sweet Potato Yeast Donuts

Shocker! Donuts were not invented in the South, but Krispy Kreme sure was, and that’s enough for me. These sweet potato yeast donuts are light, fluffy, and satisfying. The sweet potato takes them to the next level. Top them with sweet potato glaze, and enjoy one with a hot cup of Louisiana chicory coffee for a truly Southern experience.

Makes about 15 donuts

Ingredients

  • Dough
  • 3/4 cup plain unsweetened soy milk or other nondairy milk
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 3 tablespoons warm water (95F to 105F)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup mashed sweet potato (from 1 baked medium sweet potato)
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 5 cups coconut oil, for frying
  • Sweet Potato Donut Glaze (recipe follows)
  • Sweet Potato Donut Glaze (makes 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup mashed sweet potato (from 1/4 baked medium sweet potato)
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plain unsweetened soy milk or other nondairy milk

Preparation

1

Make the donuts:

Place the soy milk and vegan butter in a small saucepan and warm it on low heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and set aside.

2

Pour water into a small bowl, then sprinkle the yeast over it to dissolve for about 5 minutes.

3

In another small bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and cinnamon.

4

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat together the mashed sweet potato and sugar on medium-high speed until soft and fluffy. (Alternatively, you can use a hand mixer.) Pour the soy milk mixture and yeast mixture into the sweet potato and continue to beat until well combined. Using the dough attachment, slowly add the dry ingredients. (If you don’t have a dough attachment, use a wooden spoon to incorporate the ingredients. Once it becomes too difficult to stir, use your hands to knead.)

5

Flour a clean work surface and transfer the dough onto the floured work space. Knead until you’ve got a smooth dough ball. Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough ball in it, cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel, and let it rise for 1 hour. The dough should triple in size.

6

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat and keep nearby.

7

Remove the dough from the bowl and press it down on the floured work space to release air. Use a floured rolling pin to roll the dough about 1/2 inch thick. Use a donut cutter to cut the dough into donut shapes, then carefully transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat the dough rolling and shape cutting with the remaining dough. Cover the baking sheet with a clean kitchen towel and set aside. Let the donuts rise for a second time, about 30 minutes.

8

In a large dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot, heat the oil to 365F. Double line a cooling rack with paper towels and keep nearby.

9

Carefully drop the donuts — 3 or 4 at a time — and donut holes into the oil. Do not overcrowd. Fry on each side for about 3 minutes. The donuts should turn a soft golden brown. If they brown too quickly, the oil is too hot, so you’ll want to reduce the heat.

10

Use a handled sieve or slotted spoon to remove the donuts from the oil. Transfer them to the prepared cooling rack and allow them to cool for at least 20 minutes.

11

Once cool, dip 1 side of each donut into the sweet potato glaze, then set them glazed side up on a cooling rack for the glaze to harden, about 5 minutes before eating.

12

Donuts are best eaten the day they are made.

13

Make the Sweet Potato Donut Glaze:

Place the sweet potato, sugar, and soy milk in a food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Transfer it to a small shallow bowl and use to glaze the donuts.

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Comments

  • Wow, they look delicious. I have never tried to make a donut, and must admit I’m a fan of the Buttermilk donut that is shaped like a flower and has lots of glaze. My favorite is actually a Cronut that I had in NY at Dominique Ansel’s Bakery.

  • i love the Italian donuts eaten off the streets in Florence…SImplicity at its best with plain dough and dusted in sugar..I think the atmosphere and vibe add all the flavor

  • My current favorite doughnuts are from a local vegan shop called Big O Doughnuts. They have a variety of flavors, of which my favorite is S’mores.

  • The best place for donuts is Lancaster County, PA on Faschnaut Day (or Shrove Tuesday, before Lent starts). The Pennsylvania German tradition of making potato based donuts fried in lard is on display all over the county. Churches make huge batches and people walk away with brown paper bags, oozing with grease spots from the delicious, freshly made faschnauts. And when it’s not the day before Lent, you can always rely on the local Amish and Mennonite bakeries to provide an array of the best donuts year round.

  • The best donut I’ve ever had was at Blue Star Donuts in Portland, OR. It was filled with key lime curd and dusted with powdered sugar. I’d never had a donut so light and decidedly non-greasy, I could barely believe it was fried. I know they use a brioche dough base for their donuts so maybe that has something to do with it, but most donut recipes use a similar type of dough so who knows.

    The sweet potato donuts in this post look incredible, and I hope I can try them sometime soon (I’m moving in the next week so probably no pastry adventures for me while packing, unpacking, and setting up a kitchen). But ooh, what a great way it would be to break in a new cooking space! Thank you for the recipe!

  • This post is beautiful. Beautiful food, beautiful cook, beautiful intent.

    I appreciate the health-creating habits this vegan post and cookbook are championing – but I would like to see a recipe that keeps blood sugar stable from her cookbook instead of donuts. Like whatever deliciousness is in that last photo? I’m excited for the day Grace’s personal deep knowledge about blood sugar breaks through onto the blog, just as her championing of diversity in design has.

    Flours and sugars spike blood sugar in every body. If you agree with the news, we’re all somewhere on our way to Type 2. Can we see the same deep caring evident in who gets covered here show in the recipes, too?

  • THE BEST donuts ever are from Rise n’ Roll in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They’re Amish style donuts and so delicious! They are most famous for their cinnamon sugar donuts, which they call “Amish crack,” but I’m a big fan of the peanut butter filled ones!

  • My favorite donuts are from Pip’s here in Portland! They are cute little 2 bite-sized mini donuts, I think they are cake donuts, but I am not a donut expert. They have a handful of amazing flavors, including seasonal special flavors, but my favorite is the classic honey and sea salt. They also make a bunch of flavors of amazing chai! I wish I had some donuts and chai right now on this freezing cold morning! Would love to win this book!

  • My favorite donut was from a place called O Face Donuts, which is now closed. It was a Mexican chocolate yeast donut. It was amazing!

  • I don’t know if this a fair response, but the best donut I had was a simple glazed donut with Thrifty’s vanilla ice cream inside it at B Sweet Dessert Bar on Sawtelle Blvd. in West L.A. My husband and I always crave it and can’t wait to go back to indulge in another one! Thank you for the giveaway!!

    Your sweet potato donuts looks amazing!!! I will attempt to try and make it. Yummy!

    Cynthia

  • For years I heard people rave about the Krispy Kreme donut… During a trip to Texas on our last day there my mother packed up some breakfast burritos for us and instructed us to stop at this donut shop for coffee and these amazing donuts … ahhh yes finally the red sign blinking with the promise of fresh hot donuts and YES they did live up to my expectations and still do !!

  • such a tough one to choose .. generally, donuts are often a bit too sweet for me, but .. where I grew up, there is a tradition to have them around a certain time of year, during wintercarnival .. they are pulled out more flat (no hole) and have apple pieces inside, and cinnamon sugar on the outside .. and you get them for a less than a week and then it’s lent and you are not supposed to have sweets (ahem, in general .. ) .. I always loved that time .. I’d come home from school, or carnival events, and there’d a bag of fresh carnival donuts, sometimes even warm, sitting there to indulge in ..

  • The donuts at Gourdough’s Public House in Austin, TX is out of this world. The yeast-y donuts are light and fluffy, and perfectly accompany any topping or are the best buns for a sandwich (I ordered a monte cristo stuffed and inside a donut that was grilled – amazing!)

  • Hmm. There is a fancy doughnut place near me that has great vanilla cake doughnuts. But really, I just loved getting plain cake doughnuts when I was a kid, no frosting. My daughter recently discovered the joy of doughnuts. Even when it is not “healthy” (I try to not apply labels to foods), I get so excited when she really likes something.

  • My husband and I visited NYC for the first time in October one year after we were married. It was such a lovely adventure that it inspired a cross country move to the big Apple a few years later! I ate the best doughnut ever on that first trip. It was a small little creme filled beauty from the original Donut Plant. Called the Creme Brûlée, it had crisp crunchy sugar glaze on the outside, delicious yeasty dough and a tasty vanilla cream filling. I want more!!! Good thing I live here now ;)

  • The best donut experience I’ve had recently was at Vortex Doughnuts during a trip to Asheville, NC. Oh lord. They were perfect. The texture was something a little closer to a beignet vs a classic cake or fried donut. Every couple of months I remember that place and get a little sad that I don’t live in Asheville! I wasn’t vegan during that trip, but am now and remember they also had vegan donut options. Yum!

  • The best doughnut I’ve ever had was from Scratch Baking Co here in Omaha! It was a Sweet and Salty cake doughnut with chocolate and pretzel pieces on top, so delicious! They also have a great variety of vegan and gluten free options and ALL of them are good!

  • Best doughnuts I’ve ever had were homemade by Oliebol made by a friend’s Dutch grandmother. Best doughnut shop, SuzyQ in Ottawa, ON. Their doughnut recipe is based on the Finnish Munkki, a yeast doughnut made with cardamom. Drool!

  • I live for vacations filled with donuts. My top favorites are the sweet potato donuts from the holy donut in Portland, MI followed very closely by a fresh donut food truck on the side of the road in Hawaii. I tend to gravitate to cake donuts with a hole.

  • I grew up on Krispy Kremes, and then I went vegan and it was years before I found a good option! I did try my hand at a copycat recipe and was actually really pleased with how they turned out (except it made about 3x more than I expected!)

    My favorite by far is Donut Friend in Eagle Rock, CA. Tons of flavors, mostly yeast but a few cake, and all named after punk/emo bands.

  • Donuts were NOT a thing in my small German town back then, so when I spotted a Dunkin Donut at a big city train station I took the chance and got an apple cider one and something with pink glaze and I am not ashamed!

  • My favorite doughnut ever was a whole wheat doughnut that I had at my German grandmother’s home. She was a cook, but did not make desserts, so it likely came from a local bakery. I have never had one quite like that again.

  • Decades ago when I was in college. Krispy Kreme was brand new and I tried a glazed with a hole right off the belt. It was the best thing I ever tasted!

  • The best donut I’ve had was from a place called Mikes Chicken and Donuts (before I went vegan). I got a vanilla glazed classic raised donut with sprinkles- heavenly!

  • Okay, maybe some nostalgia going on here, but my favorite donuts were from my childhood. We used to go out to the East End of Long Island every summer. In East Hampton, there was an old-school, pre-East-Hampton-being-ruined era deli called Dreesen’s. You could watch the donuts being made right in the front window by a donut machine. I was memorized by watching the dough being formed in to the donut shapes (with a hole of course!) and then scooted into a vat of bubbling hot oil. You’d get your donuts piping hot, either plain, cinnamon sugar, or powdered sugar. The cinnamon sugar was perfect.

  • The best donuts I’ve ever had are from Misfit Doughnuts and Treats in Rochester, NY. The shop is owned by my friend Jenny and she makes all sorts of exciting donuts such as Twix, Darth Vader, Cookie Monster, and Grasshopper. She also makes cakes, truffles, pies and cinnamon rolls. All her treats are vegan too. Here is the facebook page for the shop: https://www.facebook.com/misfitdoughnuts/

  • I’ve never made doughnuts before, and this recipe looks like a great place to start. My favorite doughnuts come from Britt’s – a little place in Carolina Beach that only sells plain glazed doughnuts. They’re not fancy, but they’re hot, fresh and addictive!

  • Hmmm. Embarrassingly, it is probably a Krispy Kreme that I had as a kid. My mom took us way across town to get one one morning, surprising us. It was a great memory and a delicious donut.

  • What a great donut to try. We love sweet potatoes – done almost any way! I happened on a delicious donut while traveling through Oklahoma but I don’t remember the name of the shop. It was not vegan at all! It was a large glazed donut, topped with chocolate bits, real bacon pieces, and finely chopped nuts with a caramel drizzle. It was kind of like breakfast on top of a donut. And there were other flavor choices offered that were just as interesting.

  • LOVE the idea of these donuts And I’m going to try them tonight I think!
    Before cutting out animal products 6 months ago, my favourite donuts were from Honey donuts in Deep Cove ,BC.
    ( North Vancouver )
    Simple. Honey glazed. Crunchy not too sweet outside with a soft Cakey inside. Rolley polley shape so couldn’t tell, but there was in fact a donut hole.

  • Ok so, as a kid my sister and I used to visit my grandma in Skaneateles, NY . There was a place there called Skaneateles Bakery. They served things like egg & olive sandwiches for $2 and the most delicious donuts I have ever had in my life. (This was in the 90s). My little cousins, my sister, and I would wake up, walk downtown to the bakery, and load up on donuts to bring back to our parents. The ones that I will never forget are the peanut glazed, the apple fritters, and the creamsticks. I think they were all like, 50 cents each. The creamsticks were my favorite. They were long thin logs, perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, covered with powdered sugar and filled with delicious white cream.

    Sadly the Skaneateles Bakery as I knew it no longer exists. There are new owners, and they’ve tried to replicate some things, but it’s not the same. I have been chasing the memory of those donuts ever since, but nothing I’ve tried has lived up to it.

  • My first baking job was actually at a doughnut shop. I would wake up at 1am to mix industrial amounts of brioche and everything smelled like fryer oil. Despite the downsides to this job, I was rewarded every day with a fresh-from-the-fryer doughnut that ruined all other doughnuts for me. My favorite was probably the apple cider which, unlike the typical one that you find at every pick-your-own orchard in October, was a yeasted rather than cake. We actually took the brioche recipe, swapped the milk for cider, and gave the dough a chance to slowly ferment in the fridge overnight. Before rolling and cutting, we would fold layers of cinnamon into the dough, which gave the pillowy insides the faintest of stripes when you bit into the finished product. I was definitely spoiled.

  • These look so amazing that I mixed up the dough the morning after I read the recipe! But with just 1.5 cups of flour the dough was extremely wet–definitely not rollable. I had to add almost double the flour to be able to knead the dough. Could there be a typo?

    The best doughnuts for me are hands down Dough in NYC. No competition!

  • Looks like a great recipe. My favorite donut I’ve eaten came from Southern Made donut in Shreveport, La. I believe it’s cake donut with a hole.

  • My favorite donuts were in the 1970s, served from a sidewalk fry-cart outside of the Parkview Gem on Oahu. “Hot Malasadas” , that was all that the sign said, you could smell them frying, and they were dusted liberally with cinnamon sugar.

    We had just finished shopping for mundane necesseties, the usual kid-dom experience where you are not going to get what you want, you are just trying to get through a long shopping excursion where lots of things that you are NOT interested are considered or searched for or put in the cart.

    And the aroma of the fried dough and sugar rose up as we walked out of the store into the hot parking lot…and my Mom surprised my brother and me by deciding that we would buy malasadas, then and there, before getting in the car….they were so good that we ate them all immediately, they were gone by the time we reached the car with the cart, and we were licking the oily squares of paper that had clenched them.

    My Mom tried to make them at home, a short cut recipe where you deep fried peices of white bread, and coated them with cinnamon and sugar. She was nothing if not daring on that one. We ate those too…but they were not anywhere near as tasty and puffy as the parking lot hot malasadas.

  • These sweet potato donuts look so so so goooooood!!!

    Best donut I’ve ever had was from a bakery in Bethlehem, PA, when I was a little girl. It was a cinnamon swirl yeast donut (unglazed) with a thick slathering of THE BEST chocolate icing all over the top. Sadly the owners retired and closed their doors about 20 years ago. To this day I have never found a donut that has even come close!

  • I just love that were having a conversation about donuts :) I would have to say that the large “bear claws”(apple fritter) ,as we call them in New Orleans, has also been a special treat. I also really love the french cruller, glazed and chocolate.

  • Best donuts I’ve ever had are at Buckeye Donuts in Columbus, Ohio. The shop is open 24/7 and has been owned by the same Greek family for 40 years. y favorite donut I had was the Maple Creme Stick. The donut was lightly, airy and filled with the most delicious vanilla creme, topped with a maple glaze. Absolute perfection! The sweet potato donut recipe looks like something I’ll be making very soon and I think it would make a delightful dessert for my upcoming dinner party!

  • the best donut I’ve ever had comes from the doughnut vault in Chicago. It’s a yeasted doughnut that’s airy and light and topped with the perfect amount of maple glaze.

  • The best donut that I’ve ever had was a key lime donut from a bakery in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was a cake donut that tasted like lime, as did the frosting, but the frosting also had graham cracker bits. It was delicious. I don’t think that it was vegan, but this was a few years ago before I was vegan.

  • I’m so excited to try these sweet potato donuts! How many would count toward a daily servings of vegetables? Asking for a friend…

    I have different favorite donuts in different places :) Here in San Francisco, I find myself at Bob’s Donuts for their cake donuts. They are some of the densest and most divine donuts I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Sometimes I get the one that’s cinnamon sugar if I’m feeling deviant.

    My original favorite has to be a chocolate covered, cream filled donut at Mighty Fine Donuts in my hometown of Erie, PA. It is a pillow of chocolate heaven. Like Bob’s, they are open 24 hours a day, and I try to venture there every time I’m now.

  • Aww I love jenne! The best donut I’ve had is in Austin TX at Wheatsville Co-Op. It’s yeast and there are a ton of flavors – coffee, sprinkles, chocolate, and more, but my favorite is just a classic glazed donut.

  • I haven’t tried that many different types of donuts. I guess my favorites are plain ole glazed donuts with a hole. I don’t care much for filled ones or frosted ones. I prefer my donuts plain!

  • A local donut shop makes peanut butter glazed jelly filled donuts. So yummy, but haven’t had in years now that I”m vegan. Love the idea of this recipe!

  • Glazed blueberry buttermilk bar from Earl’s Doughnuts in Chatsworth in the 1970s – wonderful because I was with my friends, school was out and we didn’t worry about calories.

  • I am thankful to live in a town (Portland, OR) with great vegan donut options, but far and away the best donuts I’ve EVER had can be found in my old home of Portland, ME – Holy Donuts potato donuts. I miss them so much! Whenever I go home I buy a dozen to take in my carry on ha.

  • best donut ever was from Bristol Doughnut Co. in albuquerque, nm. yeast donut, maple glaze with bacon crumbles. so thick and fluffy and completely amaaaaazing.

  • The best donut was a vegan donut from the Cinnamon Snail truck in NY/NJ. It’s a chocolate cake donut, covered with chocolate icing, chocolate cookie crumbs, with a dollop of chocolate ganache filling on top. So good!

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