Browsing through the case at a donut shop in the early morning is always a wonderful experience. Freshly fried donuts, sometimes still slightly warm from the fryer, tempt with sweet glazes, colorful sprinkles and their delicious aroma. I enjoy most types of donuts, but at a donut shop, I’m usually going to reach for an old fashioned buttermilk donut first. These are tender cake donuts with a hint of tanginess from buttermilk and they come in both rounds and bars. You can’t go wrong with either, but the bars are ideal if you like a higher cake-to-glaze ratio than the round donuts deliver.
These Mini Buttermilk Bar Donuts are an easy donut recipe that will allow you to try your hand at making buttermilk bars at home. The thick dough is flavored with buttermilk, vanilla and just the right amount of sugar to keep the donuts tender, but not too sweet. You’ll notice that the dough doesn’t have much fat in it, just a small amount of butter. This is because a buttery dough can taste overly greasy or heavy after frying, while a leaner dough contrasts a bit better with the donut’s fried exterior.
The bars are shaped on a flat, floured surface by patting the dough into a large rectangle, then cutting it into smaller rectangles. Be sure to keep your surface well-floured so that the donuts don’t stick as you move them around. You can fry them in batches in a relatively shallow pot of oil, as the small bars don’t need as much oil to cook as their larger counterparts. I use an induction burner that allows me to control the temperature of the oil very easily, but be sure to use a thermometer to maintain the temperature and prevent the bars from overcooking.
Once they’re cooked and slightly cooled, the donuts can be topped with a glaze. I prefer a thinner glaze for these and either dip the bars or arrange them on a wire rack, pouring the glaze on top. To make the glaze thicker, simply reduce the amount of milk in it. A thicker glaze is a good choice if you want to adhere sprinkles, coconut or nuts to your donuts before serving. These are best the day that they are made, but their small size makes them suitable for snacking and this recipe does not make a huge batch.
Mini Buttermilk Bar Donuts
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cups sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large eggs
1 1/2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups (approx) vegetable oil (for frying)
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3 tbsp milk (approx)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Pour mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until a thick dough forms. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
On a floured surface, press the dough into a square about 1/2-inch thick. Cut square into quarters, then cut each quarter into sixths (making 24 small rectangles).
Pour oil into a medium/large pot and heat to 355-360F. Cook the donuts for about 2 minutes per side, or until deep golden brown. You can also check for doneness by cutting one in half to ensure it is cooked through.
Allow donuts to cool slightly while the icing is prepared. Drizzle icing over donuts and serve.
For the icing: Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, milk and vanilla until glaze is smooth. For a thinner glaze, add a few additional teaspoons of milk. For a thicker glaze, whisk in a few additional tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar.
Makes about 24