Baked Buttermilk Pumpkin Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze

You don’t think that baked donuts can be as good as deep fried donuts? baked-buttermilk-pumpkin-donuts-brown-butter-glaze Neither did I, until I tried this recipe from The Cafe Sucre Farine. I had always thought of baked donuts as being muffins in a donut shape. Imposters. Kind of like how those fresh tomatoes at the store look like tomatoes but don’t taste like them.

Well, this recipe for baked buttermilk pumpkin donuts has permanently changed my perspective. They are as delicious as a fried cake donut, but they don’t require the tedious process of sticky dough-rings free-falling into hot, smelly oil.

In case you can’t tell, the donuts pictured are actually mini-donuts. I didn’t exactly mean to make donuts this tiny…let me explain.

I ordered a mini donut pan on Amazon, but I didn’t realize just how miniscule they would actually be. For some reason I had the mistaken thought that a mini-donut pan would be the same dimensions as a standard donut pan, but with twice as many molds, thus yielding donuts about 1/3 the size of a regular donut. (Okay, so I’m not sure if the dimensional math would work out that way. I’m severely challenged in the visual-spatial-mathematical department.) And of course, I didn’t check to see if there was a description of the pan’s actual dimensions online.

I was rather surprised to find a manila envelope in my mailbox…I didn’t think a baking pan could fit in a mailbox. Upon opening said envelope, I saw what looked like a child’s play-kitchen version of a donut pan.

I proceeded to make these lovely little donuts for a family Halloween party. And I was taking that pan in and out of the oven, wiping it clean, and refilling it all morning long. And into the afternoon. After countless batches, I finally managed to use up half of the batter (I had doubled the recipe, haha.) At that point, I poured the rest of the batter into a muffin tin.

Do you want to know how big these donuts actually were? Roughly the size of my husband’s wedding band. The upside is, they were great for a party because people could taste them and still have room for other things. But seriously, next time I’ll buy a regular donut pan!

Don’t skip the glaze on these donuts! The brown butter glaze is irresistible. At the end of the day, I found my toddler meticulously scraping the glaze off of the cookie sheet that I had once held the buttermilk pumpkin donuts. (No wonder he didn’t answer when I asked what he was doing from the other room!) The original recipe includes directions for a maple glaze, so if maple appeals to you, try it and let me know what you think. I wanted something with a milder flavor because I really wanted the pumpkin flavor to shine.

An important note: Don’t substitute light brown sugar for the dark brown sugar. I’ve tried this, and while they still taste good, the donuts have a more “muffin-y” texture than a cake donut texture. Also, although many people recommend subbing milk and vinegar/lemon juice for buttermilk in recipes, my opinion is that the flavor is superior with real cultured buttermilk. I culture my own buttermilk using buttermilk from the store so that I always have a jar of buttermilk in the fridge. Here’s a tutorial from Alaska from Scratch on how to make your own cultured buttermilk. It’s super easy and less expensive than buying buttermilk from the store every time you need it.


Baked Buttermilk Pumpkin Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze


    Baked Buttermilk Pumpkin Donuts:
  • adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine
  • ¼ cup butter, melted
  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 yolk, from a large egg
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Brown Butter Glaze:
  • 1/2 c. salted butter
  • 1 TBS vanilla
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Evaporated milk to desired consistency


Buttermilk Pumpkin Donuts:

Preheat the oven to 350* and spray two (standard) donut pans well with cooking spray.

Mix butter, oil, buttermilk, egg, egg yolk, brown sugar, pumpkin, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir just until the dry ingredients are incorporated; don’t over-mix.

Pour the batter into a large zip-top bag. Seal the bag and cut an opening in one of the bottom corners about 1/4” wide. Gently squeeze the bag to pipe the batter into the donut wells, dividing evenly among the 12 molds.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops spring back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted in a donut comes out clean. Let the donuts cool for 5 minutes, then carefully turn them out onto a cooling rack. Don’t skip the 5 minutes of resting or your donuts will fall apart. When your glaze is ready, carefully dip the donuts by gently pressing them, round side down (the side that was on the bottom, in the donut pan) into the glaze, then sitting them glaze-side-up on a rack. Alternately, you could drizzle the donuts with the glaze. Whatever suits your fancy.

Brown Butter Glaze:

Measure powdered sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl.

Place butter in a small saucepan. Stir and cook over medium heat. The butter will develop a thick foam and begin to turn brown. When it becomes a caramel color, pour it immediately into the powdered sugar, or it will start to burn in the hot pan. You can find a detailed tutorial for browning butter at Our Best Bites.

Add evaporated milk a little at a time and beat until you reach your desired glaze consistency.

Linked at: Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

7 thoughts on “Baked Buttermilk Pumpkin Donuts with Brown Butter Glaze

  1. Miz Helen says:

    Hi Carolyn,
    Your Donuts look delicious! Hope you are staying warm and cozy in this cold weather and thanks so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  2. Marlon says:

    I am a new follower! I found a link to your donut holes you made for Fathers day.. I didn’t even know about the givaeway until I went to look at everything on your blog! I am so happy I found your blog, thank you for the givaeway too!I would make some donut holes for breakfast!!! and cake pops for my Sunday School kids…or both! haha 🙂

    • Carolyn says:

      I’m not sure you’ve got the right blog, as I’m not hosting any giveaways…but this recipe would make some delicious donut holes if you want to try them 🙂

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