This vegan brioche doughnut rises a mile high and has a vanilla glaze that crunches between your teeth before you bite into the soft, fluffy, tender doughnut. A soy-free, nut-free recipe.
Sometimes you just need to eat a doughnut. Not a whole wheat doughnut. Or a baked one. Not one made with no fat or with avocados or sweet potatoes or beets. I am talking here about a real, melt-in-the-mouth, beautifully glazed doughnut that dares you to eat it if you are woman enough. Or man enough.
For those of you who are, I have today the best damn vegan brioche doughnut ever. With a dreamy vanilla glaze.
This is the stuff of your dreams. And mine. It has the soft, tender texture and buttery flavor of a brioche. And the glaze! Creamy, smooth, and luscious, this vanilla glaze crunches slightly between your teeth before you bite into the delicate, perfect crumb. (Oooh, I think I just died and went to heaven.)
I had been a little obsessed with making a vegan brioche doughnut after reading a recipe in The Washington Post (not vegan). I just had to have one, asap. But there isn’t always time to make your vegan brioche doughnut and eat it too. So the newspaper clip with the recipe sat at my elbow while I worked at my computer at home. During an occasional break I would look, dewy-eyed, at the lovely, square beauties in the photographs, and my passion for them would be reignited. The clip made a hopeful trip with me to the kitchen as I got closer to finding a time to get to work on them. And finally, last weekend, I rolled up my sleeves because I could wait no more.
In the Post’s kitchen, the doughnut was loaded with butter and eggs. These are crucial ingredients, or so you are always told, in baking. But we vegans know better, don’t we?
So I experimented with the recipe. I followed most of the directions and ingredients faithfully, but I replaced the eggs with aquafaba. I subbed olive oil for butter– a trick I’ve tried earlier, with great success, in my Vegan Olive Oil Brioche with Aquafaba. The common substitutions didn’t work quite right, and I had to tweak the recipe a couple of times. But finally, like Goldilocks and with dozens of donuts under my belt (literally), I got it just right. I did halve the recipe because, you know, moderation is key, even with the most delicious doughnut.
I also tried a version with applesauce, because aquafaba doesn’t agree with Desi’s tummy. If you share that problem, use applesauce– it works almost as well. The batter remains a little tackier with the applesauce version, which means your donuts might be a little floppier, but who cares when they taste so good.
And now that I have conquered these donuts, I cannot wait to share them with you.
These are no ordinary doughnuts. They rise a mile high, which gives you that wonderful, airy texture. I would have loved to make these square, like the ones in the Post recipe, because I think their height does better with a square cut, but alas, I didn’t have a square doughnut cutter. During one of my experiments I cut the doughnuts square with a knife, but I ended up with different sized doughnuts. Still delicious, though.
You’re probably eager to get to the doughnuts recipe — I know I am — so let’s do it. Have a vegan brioche doughnut! It’s like eating a fluffy, sweet cloud.
Vegan Brioche Doughnuts (with a vanilla glaze and aquafaba)
- 1/2 cup almond milk (or use any other nondairy milk)
- 1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp + 1/4 tsp warm water
- 2 cups and 5 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp kosher salt or sea salt or pink salt
- 3 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Scrapings of half a vanilla bean (optional)
- 1/4 cup aquafaba (If you don't want to use aquafaba, substitute with an equal amount of applesauce)
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
Make the doughnuts:
- Place the warm milk in a bowl and whisk in the yeast. Add the warm water and let it stand five minutes or until the yeast starts to bubble and rise.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, and salt. Whisk using the paddle attachment. Then add the yeast-milk mixture, vanilla extract and bean scrapings, if using, and aquafaba. Whisk until the dough forms. It will be a little sticky but that's okay.
- Add the olive oil in three batches, letting it incorporate into the dough each time before adding more.
- After the oil is thoroughly incorporated, swap out the paddle attachment for a dough hook.
- Knead the dough on medium speed for 10 minutes or until the dough forms a ball. It will still be sticky and some dough may stick to the bottom.
- Scrape out all of the dough into a large greased bowl. Let the dough stand, covered, for about 30 minutes, then turn it over once so the top is smooth. Lightly oil the top, then cover the dough with an oiled plastic wrap so the wrap is directly touching the surface of the dough. Refrigerate for four to 16 hours (I usually let it stand about 12 hours). The long proofing time helps the flavor develop.
- Remove the dough to a floured surface. Shape it to some evenness with your hands. Then, using a floured rolling pin, roll it into a rectangle about 9 by 10 inches. Cover with a light towel. Let the dough relax for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, if your doughnut cutter is about three inches, like mine is, cut out 18 five-inch square pieces of parchment paper. Place them on a baking sheet one beside the other, and spray lightly with cooking spray. This makes it much easier to transfer the risen doughnuts to the hot oil without deflating them.
- Then, using a doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts and doughnut holes. Roll up the scraps and cut out more. Place each doughnut on a square of parchment paper, and put the doughnut holes on another sheet of parchment paper. Each square should accommodate three to four doughnut holes. Leave some room between the holes and the doughnuts because they will rise.
- Cover the doughnuts with a light towel and let them rise in a warm place. In warm temperatures, they should double in size in no more than an hour. It might take up to three hours in a cooler place.
- Heat oil for frying in a wok or a large dutch oven. If you have a frying thermometer or a candy thermometer, use it to ensure that your oil reaches the optimal temperature for frying: 325 degrees.
- While the oil is heating, make the glaze. Place all ingredients in a bowl large enough to dip the doughnuts, then whisk until very smooth. Cover and set aside while you fry the doughnuts.
- Fry the doughnuts and the holes, without crowding them. Do this by picking up the parchment paper and putting the whole thing in the frying pan, to avoid deflating the doughnut. The paper will float free almost immediately, at which point just remove it with a pair of tongs. The Post recommends frying them for a minute on each side, flipping over twice, for four minutes total. It worked for me.
- Place the fried donuts on a rack with a cookie sheet under them. Let them cool for a couple of minutes, then dip each doughnut and doughnut hole in the glaze, turning over once. Place back on the rack. Eat the doughnuts as soon as the glaze is set.
- The doughnuts taste best when they are fresh, but we couldn't finish them all in a day. They were pretty good, refrigerated, even three days later.
- You can also freeze refrigerate half the dough if you want to make fewer doughnuts. Halve and freeze right after the dough comes out of the refrigerator, after the long rise.
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