Gluten-free yeasted donuts using alternative flours

We just had May Day, and to me that means we need to have deep-fried sweet things (the Finnish way). I had thought that this year with the pandemic and lockdown I’ll give making these a miss, since my local supermarkets haven’t had gluten-free flours in a while. I know Dove’s farm and Morrison’s and probably some others are doing gluten-free boxes but they contain so much things I wouldn’t use due to other intolerances, that I will rather let others enjoy them.

I had ordered alternative gluten-free flours from Just Natural (www.justnatural.co.uk) but was thinking that trying to make a yeasted sweet dough from them with so little experience would be too hard a task and decided I wouldn’t attempt it. After a day of looking at pictures donuts and funnel cakes in my social media feed, I yielded and decided I’d give donuts a go. They turned out so well that I want to share the recipe to you so you can have a go, too!

Adapting a quark donut recipe to what I had at hand

The original recipe for the donuts is from a Finnish coeliac blogger Aino and can be found here (in Finnish). The recipe uses quark, a very typical sour milk product used in Finland in baking and desserts and as a snack. In the UK it’s classed as soft cheese and is found typically on the cheese isle. I would personally say it’s more like fromage but more tangy. I prefered using a recipe with quark because using soured milk products tends to help with the binding of the dough and makes the bake less dry and thought it would give me a bit more wiggle room since I wasn’t sure how the flours would behave.

Quark is a soured milk product that is close to a soft cheese but more tangy in flavour. It can be found in the cheese isle in most supermarkets.
Quark is used a lot in Finland as a filling in sweet bakes, in desserts to lighten things up and also to improve texture of bakes. It’s similar to fromage, slightly more tangy and in the UK it’s classified as a soft cheese. You find it in most supermarkets where it is typically in the cheese isle, but can sometimes found in with the creams etc. If you can’t find quark, you might find Islandic Skyr in the yogurt isle, pick up the natural one and you are good to go!

The original recipe would use 4dl of Semper’s fine gf flour and 4dl coarse gf flour and 1tsp of xanthan gum. I decided to use 4dl of sorghum flour, 3dl sweet tapioca starch (didn’t have any more potato starch) and 1dl coconut flour. I tried to make as light and neutral to sweet blend as possible, so that it would suit the sweet bake. I steered away from brown teff and buckwheat I had for I think they are too dark and are more suitable for bread than sweet bakes. I had ground almonds, which I could have used instead of the coconut flour, to be fair.

Instead of xanthan gum I opted to use psyllium powder, for I find it suits yeasted doughs and is more like the bind gluten would give and you can then knead the dough almost like a regular dough. I halved the amount of dry yeast used in the recipe, for I though for the type we have in the UK 33g was too much.

The dough should come away from the bowl edges easily.
The dough should be soft but not sticky. Adjust the amount of liquid to get it right, for different flour types and batches likely absorb liquids differently.

Recipe for gluten-free (and corn and rice free) yeasted donuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 tub (250g) quark
  • 1.5 dl boiling water
  • (1dl water if needed, depends on the flours used)
  • 16g GF dry yeast (check ingredients, not typically in the FreeFrom isle but in the baking isle) appr. 3tbsp
  • 2tbsp psyllium husk (powder)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1dl caster sugar (and some for coating the donuts)
  • 1tbsp ground cardamom (or 15pods ground with a mortar and pestle, squash the pods, remove husks and grind the seeds)
  • 1tsp vanilla essence or paste
  • 1egg
  • 4dl sorghum flour
  • 3dl tapioca starch
  • 1dl coconut flour
  • 50g melted butter or margarine
  • 0.5l of vegetable oil for frying
  • appr. 2dl caster sugar for coating the donuts

Method:

  1. Mix the quark with the boiling water in a bowl. This is to warm up the quark to approximately 42C to get the yeast started. Check that the mixture is definitely warm to the hand but not burning so that it doesn’t kill the yeast.
  2. Mix the flours and the psyllium together in a bowl.
  3. Take 2dl of the flour mixture separate and mix the yeast, sugar and cardamom in. Add this mixture with the quark and mix until smooth. Cover with a clean towel and let rest in a draftless place for 15min.
  4. To the now bubbly mixture add the egg and the rest of the flour little by little. Mix first with a spoon or a whisk and then knead with hands. Knead in the melted butter. Cover and let rise for 20-30min in a draftless place. If the dough is turning dry, add some more water gradually so that you have a firm dough that doesn’t stick but is still mouldable and feels soft.
  5. On a floured (gf, you can use e.g sorghum) worktop, tip over the dough. Divide into 20 or so pieces and roll into balls. Leave a small dough ball for testing the oil temperature. Cover with a cloth to wait for cooking.
  6. Heat up the oil in a small saucepan. You need at least an inch, maybe an inch and a half of oil so that the donut will float and not touch the bottom of the pan. If you have a thermal probe, that would help a lot and make frying safer. Of course you can use a deep frier if you have one (make sure the oil is fresh or not used for gluten-containing things). Heat the oil to 180C and adjust the hob to keep it there. Don’t let the oil smoke and keep the lid of the pan at hand so that if the oil would catch fire, you can put the lid on to extinguish the flame. Keep water away and be extremely careful when handling the oil.
  7. When the oil is 180C you can check by adding the dough ball in that it browns nicely. If the oil is too hot you get a dark colour and the dough is left raw in the middle.
  8. Take a dough ball and make a hole in the middle with your fingers. The dough can’t stretch that much, but if it breaks, just pinch the ring back together. Using a fork or a slotted ladle, carefully place the donut in the oil. Ideally, it should take about 3-4min to get a nice brown colour. Turn the donut when one side is done. Turn down the heat if the colour darkens quickly. Too cool oil will make the donuts heavy and oily. When brown all over, take the donut from the oil and place on a plate with two layers of kitchen roll to drain the oil and cool down. If there’s space in the saucepan, you can cook 2 or 3 donuts at the same time.
  9. When the donuts are cooked turn off the hob. After the oil has cooled down, you can pass it through a sieve and place in an airtight container and store in the fridge for next time you want to deep fry something. If you don’t want to keep the oil, absorb it in newspaper and discard in your mixed waste, don’t pour it down the drain.
  10. Coat the slightly cooled donuts in caster sugar. This is done easiest in a plastic or paper bag, put the sugar in, put 1-2 donuts in and shake the donuts in the bag with the sugar while holding the bag closed with your hand. Alternatively pour some sugar on a plate and turn the donuts in the sugar. Place on a plate or tray in a pile. Enjoy!
Be careful with the hot oil. You need 1-1.5 inches in the saucepan.
Be careful when deep-frying. Use a thermal probe if possible, have the lid of the saucepan at hand to cover the saucepan if you should set the oil alight, turn off the extractor fan and don’t bring water near the hob so that you don’t get any spills.

I was pleasantly surprised on how the donuts turned out. My husband said they were better than the ones you typically get and I was really chuffed with that! They were quite light and when eaten fresh they had a lovely slight crunch that one likes in fried foods. Do try to eat them fresh, because that’s when they are best. One can freeze some of them without the sugar and sugar them when you unfreeze them but they are not going to be as nice, will do nicely with coffee or a cup of tea, though..

Sugar-coated yeasted dougnuts are a Finnish May Day treat.
My alternative gf flour donuts were a success! They are best enjoyed fresh!

With unconventional flours and deep-frying this recipe is a bit of an undertaking, but you can also make the dough with plain gf flour mix and come up with a nice end product. If you are trying these out, please let me know by messaging me on FB (Making Lifetweaks), commenting here or tagging @gf_lifetweaks on Instagram.

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