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Sourdough Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar

These are true homemade Sourdough Donuts, made without any commercial yeast. A slow fermentation gives these donuts a spectacular flavor and texture. They’re like no donuts you’ve ever tasted.

a stack of sourdough donuts with cinnamon sugar against a white background

It’s official, you guys – these are my favorite donuts ever! I mean, who doesn’t love a good donut? What’s your favorite donut style; cake or yeast? Some folks like the cake style donuts and, sure, they’re tasty.  But, me? I’m partial to the airy/chewy texture of a good yeast donut.

What makes Sourdough Donuts taste so good?

Making donuts with the natural yeast of a sourdough starter takes them into another stratosphere. Seriously, these donuts are GOOD. The starter gives the donuts a special chewy texture and deep flavor.

If you don’t have one, check out my post to learn How to Make a Sourdough Starter. Then check out my system to Feed and Maintain Sourdough Starter.

I’ve been mulling over the idea of a sourdough donut for a while now. Being a huge baking geek, I’m always thinking of the possibilities beyond bread-baking for my starter. I just knew that sourdough starter would be a great base for a yeast donut–if I could create a well-balanced recipe.

a sourdough donut on a white plate and a plate full of more donuts

How I created this Homemade Donut Recipe:

To create this recipe I looked to my Whole Grain Sourdough Waffle recipe and my Rhubarb Fritters.  I wanted a donut with a texture somewhere between those two; the open crumb and chewy texture of the waffle, with the sweet, spicy, enriched flavor of the fritter.

Because the starter doesn’t get a boost with commercial yeast, the recipe is a 2 day process. Don’t worry though, the vast majority of time is hands-off.

About working with Sourdough Starter:

A night in the refrigerator is essential for the flavor and texture of the dough. Also, since this is a fairly sticky dough, it’s much easier to roll and cut while it’s still cold from the refrigerator.

A long kneading time and two-day fermentation allows the dough to retain lots of air without collapsing. You’ll see a great “poof” when you drop the donuts into the fryer.

Even though these donuts are really big, they’re light and airy and not at all heavy or greasy (and, seriously, what sane person is going to complain that a donut is too big?). A roll in cinnamon sugar gives these babies a perfectly crunchy bite.

I bake a lot, really way too much for two people to eat. I don’t need to crave sweets since they’re always around. But I have actually caught myself dreamily remembering the crunchy bite and lightly chewy texture of these Sourdough Donuts.

I can’t wait to make them again. They’re totally worth the time and effort–and calories. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to jump on the elliptical…

A broken in half sourdough donut showing the inside crumb

a stack of cinnamon sugar donuts and one on a plate

Watch the recipe video to see how-to make true Sourdough Donuts.

I know you hate to throw away that sourdough discard. Check out these recipes that use sourdough discard.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star rating!

sourdough donuts

Sourdough Donuts with Cinnamon Sugar

Yield: 12 large donuts
Prep Time: 1 hour
Rising Time: 12 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 20 minutes

Start the day before to make a true Sourdough Donut without commercial yeast. The long fermentation of the dough gives these donuts fantastic flavor and texture.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (8 oz, 235 ml) whole milk, warmed to about 120°F (slightly warmer than body temp)
  • 1 large egg (room temp)
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz, 55g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup (8 oz, 224g) active sourdough starter  (100% hydration)
  • 3.5 cups (18 oz, 504g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (4oz, 112g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • Cinnamon Sugar for coating

Instructions

Make the dough (day 1)

  1. Combine the warm milk, butter and egg with the starter in a mixer bowl. With the mixer running, add sugar, spices, salt and 2.5 cups of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter.
  2. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour (amount of flour may vary based on the hydration of your starter). The dough will start out quite sticky. Knead on medium low speed for 15 minutes (speed 2 on my stand mixer) until the dough clings to the hook and clears the sides of the bowl.
  3. Scrape the dough into a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover and set the dough aside at room temperature for fermentation.
  4. After 1 hour uncover the bowl, lift one edge of the dough over into the middle of the dough. Repeat with the other three sides of the dough then flip the dough over. Cover the bowl and set aside.
  5. Every hour for another 2-3 hours repeat the folding as described above. After 3-4 hours of fermentation the dough should be lively, elastic and airy. If the dough is still sluggish give it another hour or two at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make the Donuts (day 2)

  1. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. While the dough is still cold, without kneading, roll to 1/2" thick on a lightly floured surface.
  2. Use a 4" round cutter to cut donuts. Use a 1.5" cutter to cut center hole. Line the donuts on a well-oiled, parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, leaving space between the donuts for the dough to rise (I used 2 baking sheets). Reroll the scraps of dough and continue cutting donuts until all the dough is used up. Brush the tops of the donuts lightly with oil.
  3. Cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. The donuts are ready when you poke the dough and the dent slowly fills in. If the dough bounces right back it's not quite ready. This rise should take about 1 1/2 hours. The time will vary based on the temperature of the room.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of oil to 350F° in a large heavy pot. Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy.
  5. As you take each donut out of the oil, immediately roll in the cinnamon sugar to coat the entire donut. Set on a cooling rack while you fry the rest of the donuts.
  6. Best eaten warm or within a couple of hours of frying.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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Katherine

Friday 18th of February 2022

After you had the last cup of flour and mix with the dough hook….do you allow it come to window pane?

Katherine

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

Oh I meant fry! Not bake! I may be a good wife and time them out so I fry them up before he goes to work.

Katherine

Wednesday 23rd of February 2022

@Eileen Gray, thanks! I tried these and they were absolutely delicious. My husband wants to bring some to work. I wonder if I baked them the night before if they would still taste good the next morning.

Eileen Gray

Saturday 19th of February 2022

Honestly, I'm not that fussy. I knead until the dough comes together and let the fermentation do the rest.

Chris

Tuesday 25th of January 2022

Can´t wait to make these! Can they be used with regular donut glaze?

Eileen Gray

Wednesday 26th of January 2022

Sure. Glaze them while there still a little warm for the best crackly finish.

natasha

Sunday 23rd of January 2022

This is the best cinnamon doughnut that I have made and I have been a quest to find the best! I hadn't had much luck using the starter to make doughnuts, until this recipe. Beautiful inner texture; This doughnut rose so nicely while frying I could hardly believe it, it tripled in thickness. I followed the instructions and perfect. I found myself thinking about these doughnut, even though I bake many deserts and artisan breads, pastas, pizzas; always wanting to use my starters.

Thank you so much,

TAsha

Sing

Monday 17th of January 2022

Hi, I followed the instruction for day 1 and made the dough. But did not have time to make the donuts on day 2. is it okay to keep the dough in the fridge and make them on day 3? would the dough be over proof ?

Sing

Monday 17th of January 2022

Omg, these came out perfect! The texture is so pillowy. I even baked it in an air fryer. This recipe is a keeper! Will be making this often. Thanks so much for the wonderful recipe.

Eileen Gray

Monday 17th of January 2022

Yes, you can keep the dough refrigerated for another day. If it looks like the dough is over-rising just take it out, knead out the air and return it to the fridge.

Yolanda Friesen

Thursday 13th of January 2022

Would it work to keep them in the fridge for 24 hours before rolling out?

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