Vanilla Chai Doughnuts

A coffeehouse favorite, baked up and begging to be dunked.

Chai tea, while not a new item at coffee shops, has moved to the conductor’s seat on the tasty train when it comes to being incorporated into baked goods.

I spent a few years manning the steam wand and just being an all-around kick-butt barista, and let me tell you, there are A LOT of chai-sters. You know… chai monsters. People that practically sprout hair and mutate if the chai runs out and they’re forced to settle for perfectly brewed, crema-topped (I know, toot-toot goes that horn) espresso instead. Chai-sters; abbreviations are hip.

Iced, hot, lukewarm, with soy, skim, 2%, even a couple that wanted it made with heavy cream, but settled for half & half after some unusual stares… They eat, sleep, and breathe chai, and simply must have it – preferably multiple times a day.

There are those of us who feel that same way about doughnuts. Must. Have. Often. A logical combination of two yummy, satisfying, addicting treats, wouldn’t you agree? On to chai doughnuts!

cooling-tea

First things first, brew a strong cup of chai tea in hot water. Brew it strong; you’re going to need around 1/3 cup cooled for the recipe, so feel free to sip the rest while you’re gathering ingredients. No milk! Just tea and water for now.

“Chai” translates to “tea” in many parts of the world. So really, we’re calling it “tea tea” in America, but what we’re referring to is the same; a creamy drink made with black tea, milk, spices, and sweetener. There is no set recipe for the spices contained in this heady drink, but coriander always seems to take a lead role. A perfect opportunity to taste some tea and “go with my gut.”

spice-mix

The spice combination to make my version isn’t too too fussy: cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and coriander. There are some that call for white pepper and nutmeg, but I didn’t find them necessary. No need to pull EVERY jar out of the pantry.

Coriander

What’s coriander? Also known as cilantro, we generally refer to the seed as coriander and the leaves as cilantro. In the UK, they just call the whole thing coriander. As long as we can all keep it straight, we’re good. It has a fragrant flavor that’s a cross between a citrusy lemon and spicy nutmeg, and it really adds a pleasant extra something to the end note of the spice combo.

spray-pan

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Get out your large doughnut pan and give the wells a spritz with cooking spray or swipe with butter, whichever you choose.

dry-ingredients

In a medium bowl, add 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in little piles so you don’t lose track. It’s kind of a laundry list of ingredients, so it’s good to take precautions.

I had already measured out my spices in the cup for the above shot, so I just dumped them in this time around. It’s not necessary to dirty the extra dish.

Don’t have coriander and don’t plan on ever purchasing it? No sweat. Just up the cardamom to 3/4 teaspoon.

whisk-dry

Whisk it all together so it’s fully combined. No one wants a sneeze-inducing mouthful of clove or to accidentally do the cinnamon challenge. It’s a step well worth doing. Set the dry ingredients aside for now.

liquid-ingredients

In your mixing bowl, add 1/4 cup of the cooled tea, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste, and 1 egg.

liquid-ingredients-combined

Mix together until combined. It’ll separate a bit once you stop; that’s ok.

adding-dry

Turn the mixer on low and slow, and gradually add in the dry ingredients. Once it’s all combined, stop and scrape the bowl before briefly mixing again, just to make sure it’s all fully combined.

batter-in-cup

Using a pastry bag, spoon, or my favorite, the liquid measuring cup, fill each doughnut well 2/3 full.

filling-wells

Pop the doughnuts in the preheated oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. When they’re done, they’ll spring back when touched lightly.

doughnuts-on-cooling-rack2

Remove them from the oven. Allow them to rest in the pan for a few minutes before you remove them from the pan and onto a cooling rack. I find that a light smack on the rack when the pan is inverted usually does the trick to get them to come out smoothly.

glaze

While the doughnuts cool, make the chai glaze. Mix together 1 cup of confectioners’ sugar and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the remaining cooled tea. You want to add enough that it makes a thick, but fluid glaze.

Pour the glaze into a shallow, flat-bottomed dish. Something that will fit a whole doughnut, but you can pull it back out easily.

glazing

Dip the top of the doughnuts into the glaze and then place them back onto the rack to dry. The glaze is going to spread and drizzle down a bit; artsy AND delicious.

ChaiDoughnuts2_750x500

You certainly can (and should!) enjoy them while the glaze is ooey gooey.  Just let them dry if you plan on packing them up and sharing. They’re baked, not fried, so feel free to indulge and eat them just like the chai-sters; multiple times a day, with a big satisfied grin on your face.

Gwen Adams
About

Gwen Adams grew up in northern New Hampshire, on top of a mountain, surrounded by nature and not much else. After graduating from Lyndon State College in 2010, Gwen sought a career that combined her passion for writing with her love of baking. She found ...

comments

  1. Karen LW

    I used a muffin-tops pan, lacking one for doughnuts. The results were more like morsels, but good anyway. We thought the Cardamon was too strong, even with the 1/4 tsp. I used. To use 3/4 tsp. of it would be over-the-top! I will try it again w/o any of it. But the idea of baked doughnuts is most agreeable. Funny that mine had to be spooned, not poured; I wonder why?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Karen-
      I’m guessing you may just have been a little heavy-handed in your flour measuring, I would recommend giving this tutorial a read through before your next batch and see if that helps: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipe/measuring-flour.html. If you have any further questions, please feel free to give our baker’s hotline a call at 855-371-2253. Happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  2. ann lorish

    I am a doughnut devotee and these sound very good, but only really like yeast-raised doughnuts. If someone would come up with a wonderful yeast doughnut that isn’t fried I would be delighted! Does anyone have a recipe or at least a doughnut recipe that tastes close to a “yeast-raised”?

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel

      Ann, I hope your fellow readers can help and will answer you here – I’ve tried several times, but can’t get that distinctive fried-doughnut flavor in a baked yeast doughnut. Good luck! PJH

  3. Jacque

    I recently made some donuts with your GF boxed mix…fantastic! Do you think I could cheat by using the boxed mix and just add the various spices, chai, etc.?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Jacque, We’ve never actually tried this, but I think it would probably work as long as you don’t change the liquid amount called for in the mix. The mix makes 12 doughnuts and the recipe makes 6, so you may want to use part chai, part milk for your liquid. Let us know how they turn out! Barb@KAf

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