Updated: Mar 1, 2022
I secretly love donuts and when I was diagnosed with Celiac over 10 years ago, I cried knowing how much I would miss these soft, airy, sugary treats.
I had seen gluten free donuts in American grocery stores before, packaged and usually frozen, they were dense and dry and not worth the calories. I knew that donuts would be just another gluten filled delicacy that I would have to give up forever.
Now that I am a more experienced baker and have the mindset of a stubborn bull I say, NO! I do not want to give up donuts. I do not want to sit on the sidelines while my family indulges, I will come up with the best, and I mean the BEST, gluten free donut recipe.
And I did. Honestly, did you expect anything less than perfection?
It is February here in Germany and normally this is my absolute favorite time of year. While I might be American and Jewish, when this time of year comes around, I am 100% German. The weeks leading up to Lent (Ash Wednesday) are filled with parties, parades, dance shows, comedy acts, and costume contests all in the name of Fastnacht. This time of year has many names, it is also known as Fassenacht, Fasching, Karneval, and in America we call it Mardi Gras.
It is a time where you go crazy. From little kids to senior citizens our entire town goes nuts! We have party after party. Huge parties, indoors with hundreds of people of every age (ok 16 and older) until 3am the next morning. The older teens host a kids carnival for the toddlers and young elementary school children with games and dancing. There are parades with homemade floats mocking current events where people blast music, throw candy and small toys, and hand out wine if they see your glass is empty. We drink and dance in the street no matter what the weather and everyone is just, happy.
This year everything is canceled and my heart is broken. This tradition of Fastnacht has been going on for centuries and even dates back to occuring in ancient Greece 5000 years ago. However, the majority of research shows the festivities, which we hold today, were also celebrated back in the 12th-17th centuries. For more information on the origins feel free to Wikipedia Fastnacht traditions.
Back to the donuts, why am I rambling on and on about these parties and I started this post about donuts? Well, these donuts are the traditional snack or dessert treat for this time of year. If you are Catholic (which we are not) and observe Lent (which we don't), then many people give up indulgences during this 6 week period before Easter. What is more luscious and indulgent than a custard filled donut??? (The events, parties, parades are not religious which is why we love to participate every year)
Just another batch of donuts and macarons of course. Homemade and amazing!
The local German bakeries are stocked with hundreds of these donuts. All filled and topped differently, but the most common and traditional are ones filled with custard or raspberry jam and topped with powdered sugar.
I did both, with my own twist of course. I wasn't going to sit out on another tradition just because Corona canceled all my favorite events. I was determined to throw my family a mini party at home, just us 4, complete with decoration, face painting, music, dancing, and of course wine. AND gluten free donuts for the whole family to enjoy.
The wine on the left is called Sekt which is a sparkling wine (like Champagne) and is made directly in our town, Kiedrich. Steinmacher & Sohn is some of our favorite local Sekt and we always have multiple bottles in our house at all times. The smaller bottle of Rose Sekt was a gift from one my girlfriends, who wanted to give us a little extra cheer this holiday season. We usually go out dancing and partying together and since this year was canceled she went around the neighborhood to all our girlfriends and handed out little gifts. I love my town!
PRO TIP: Save time. You can make the dough the night before. Let it rest and rise and then cover the top with plastic wrap and place the bowl in the refrigerator. Let the dough come to room temperature the next day before rolling out the dough.
These donuts are very easy to make but do take time. Not a ton of active time which is great. What I love about these donuts is that you can make the dough in a bread machine. It took me less than 5 minutes to dump all the ingredients in and press start. I then made the custard filling within 15 minutes, put that in the fridge and jumped on my spinning bike for a Peloton class, because... well... your know... donuts and Sekt are a crazy amount of calories.
Here you can see the local ingredients (I forgot the picture of the apple cider vinegar) that I used as well as how I put everything in the bread machine pan and how the dough looked after it was done resting. I use and LOVE my bread machine from Beem. It has a gluten free setting for when you want to bake bread. I use this bread machine for everything! Pizza dough, breads, German pretzels, cinnamon rolls and more.
Here is a video of the dough mixing within the first few minutes of pressing start on the bread machine for the dough setting.
As you can see I didn't have enough dough for 5 donuts. Instead I just made little balls about the size of golf balls. You can do this as well instead of using circle cookie cutters. Then take a large pot with about a liter of oil. Very carefully ladle in your donuts and within minutes you have a perfectly golden brown donut.
As good as they smell, back away. They are hot and not ready to be filled or eaten.
Don't worry if you don't have a bread machine. I make these with my stand mixer all the time. Just proof you yeast by warming your milk and water to a range of 38-42 degrees C (100-108F), add 1 tablespoon of sugar and a packet of yeast. Whisk thoroughly, and wait about 10-15 minutes. You will see a foam like dome after 10ish minutes that starts to form on the top of the liquid and that is GOOD!
Add all your other dough ingredients into your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment. Then add your milky yeast mixture and turn your stand mixer onto to low letting it knead your dough for about 10-15 minutes. You might need to stop it once or twice to scrape the bottom of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a bowl that has been drizzled with a little oil (olive or vegetable is fine). Cover the bowl with a warm damp cloth or kitchen towel and let rest for 90 minutes.
The Nutella Custard:
Here are the ingredients that I used but I have to admit I forgot to add the butter to the picture.
Here you see how the custard mixture looks right at the beginning. I had just turned on the stove and the custard is thin and very liquidy.
Just minutes later the custard thickens. You want the custard thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Make sure to also scrape the sides of the pan as well as the bottom.
Once my custard had cooled (from sitting in the fridge for 4 hours) and I mixed in the Nutella I noticed some lumps that I hadn't seen before.
It tasted fine, but who wants lumps in their custard?
Here is how I fixed it. I put the Nutella custard into my stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Whisked it on high for about 90 seconds and then it was perfect!
It did thin out a little but I just put it back in the fridge for about 20 minutes and it was the consistency that I wanted.
Time to Fill:
Just make sure not to poke a hole through the opposite side. You also want to try and dig out a small space in the middle of the donut so the filling can evenly spread out. Admittedly, I did overfill my donuts. It takes practice but about 3 tablespoons of filling should be enough. Then I dipped them into the glaze and drizzled melted dark chocolate on the top. For the smaller donut holes I filled them with a store bought raspberry jam and they are topped with powdered sugar.
See the inside? So light and airy and the filling just oozes out to make these donuts the calorie bomb that everyone needs in their life.
I also made some with a little extra dark chocolate ganache on the top. Just one batch wasn't enough so of course I had to make more. Can we say decadent?!?!
My girls LOVED these donuts and said these were better than the 'real' ones from the bakery! See the inside? So light and airy and the filling just oozes out to make these donuts the calorie bomb that everyone needs in their life.
While this Fassenacht season was not what we had hoped for, these homemade gluten free donuts paired with local Sekt made our Friday evening so special. We indulged, danced, sang at the top of our lungs, and laughed until we were all on the floor.
To all my locals, a loud HELAU!