Christmas Cake Donuts: Reindeer, Snowmen and Wreaths

Wow! Christmas is coming too soon! Where did the time go? Eek! No time for a flowery presentation. Donuts must be made! Let’s jump right in.

The decorating techniques shown here can be applied to any donut with a hole…baked, baked, or cake. I went with donut cakes. Here is the recipe:

Donuts ready to be decorated

Basic Cake Donuts

  • 2 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of shortening
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup mashed potatoes
  • canola oil for frying

This recipe makes about 20 donuts.

Sift the flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon into a medium bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the shortening and sugar. Mix slowly until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the egg and mix a little at a time until well combined and evenly colored.

Add the potato, one third of the flour mixture and one third of the milk. Mix slowly until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue adding the flour and milk at intervals. Stop when you finish matching. Try not to over mix.

Transfer to a shallow pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Press the dough until you get an even layer. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.

Heat 3 inches of canola oil to 360 degrees in a deep fryer or heavy pot.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Dust the top lightly with flour. Roll the dough out to ½ inch thick. Cut out the donuts and holes. Gather the remaining dough into a ball and knead again to make more doughnuts.

Carefully drop 2 or 3 fritters at a time into the oil. As soon as the fritters float, flip them with two toothpicks. Cook until the underside is lightly browned (about 40 seconds). Flip and cook the other side until golden brown (about 30 seconds).

Transfer finished donuts to stacked paper towels.

Make sure the oil is back to 360 degrees before frying another batch.

Make sure all donuts have cooled to room temperature before frosting.

This recipe explains the process of making homemade donuts in fairly simple terms. See the end of this article for more detailed instructions.

Snowman Cake Donuts

Snowman Donuts

For these snowman donuts, I used a plain vanilla frosting. You can get the recipe for this (and some frosting tips) from a post I did a couple of weeks ago called Christmas Cake Donuts: Chocolate Crushed Candy Canes .

The mouth and eyes are chocolate chips and the nose is Reese’s Pieces candy.

I made snowman faces. If you want to make a full snowman body, just ice 2 donuts without any other decorations and use them to make a body for your snowman face.

Donuts with Christmas wreath

Donuts with Christmas wreath

To make them, I used the leftover vanilla frosting from the snowmen and stirred in a couple of drops of green food coloring. To make the flavor more interesting, I stirred in a handful of melted white chocolate chips. Instead of dipping the donuts in the frosting, I put the frosting in a pastry bag and spread it that way. The green and red jimmies added a nice finishing touch.

Reindeer Pie Donuts

Reindeer Donuts

I wish I could take credit for the design of these cute guys, but I’ve seen many variations on the internet in different shapes and sizes. Antlers are broken mini pretzels. The eyes are white chocolate chips. The nose is red peanut M&M. For the frosting, I used my chocolate recipe…

Chocolate frosting

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces of chocolate chips
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • additional milk or water as needed

Combine the butter, milk, corn syrup and vanilla in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stirring often, cook until the butter is melted and the ingredients are combined. Reduce the heat to low and add the chocolate chips. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the chocolate mixture to the powdered sugar and beat until smooth. If the frosting thickens over time, add more liquid to thin it out.

Cake Donuts Decorated for Christmas

For all of these donuts, be sure to adhere the decorations (eyes, sprinkles, etc.) before the frosting has a chance to set. (I keep my frosting bowls warm over pans of hot water, so I’ll have plenty of time to work before the frosting hardens.) The only exception is the reindeer pretzel antlers. I let the frosting sit completely on these so I wouldn’t stain the frosting while putting the pretzels on top.

I hope you have fun making your own Christmas Cake Donuts.

May your days be merry and bright…and may all your Christmas donuts be white…snowmen, green wreaths or chocolate reindeer!

That concluded the article for the casual reader. For those of you who really enjoy making good donuts, I think you’ll find the following tips helpful…

Donut Cake Cooking Notes:

If you have it, try replacing 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour with soy flour. With this small amount, you will notice that the fritters absorb less oil when frying.

I suggest you cool it better in a saucepan rather than a bowl (as other recipes tend to advise). This is so that the dough is already partially flattened and shaped when you turn it later. The less you have to work the dough right before frying, the more likely you are to succeed.

When cutting donuts, I use a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter to make the donuts and a 1 inch cookie cutter to make the holes. I keep a small bowl of flour near my workstation and dip the cutters in the flour between cuts to prevent them from sticking.

I like to cut the dough into two batches so that half of the dough stays cold and firm in the fridge while I work on the first half. Once the donut dough is heated, it becomes sticky and difficult to work with.

When you gather the scraps of dough to make more donuts from the scrap, you’ll need to add a little more flour to make the dough workable. Add only the amount you need. If you add too much flour, the donuts become more biscuit like in texture. However, they will still taste great and look just as beautiful as the first batch when decorated.

When frying, be sure not to overload the fryer or pot. If it’s a large pot, you can definitely make more than 2 or 3 at a time. I like to use a 10″ x 12″ cast iron Le Creuset French Oven that comfortably cooks 4 donuts at once.

I flip my fritters in the oil with 2 toothpicks. It’s the best tool for the job, but a couple of table knives work well as long as you’re working quickly so they don’t get hot. To remove the fritters from the oil, I like a wire skimmer, a kitchen tool that looks like a small basket attached to a handle. Metal clamps will work if you don’t have a skimmer.

I have tried the recipe over dozens and dozens of times. I actually wear a timer around my neck because I’ve become so confident about detailed cooking times. When you first start making fritters at home, you’ll have a tendency to want to overcook them, to feel confident that the insides are cooked. Instead of overcooking them, test the recommended times, make a batch, and then scrape them into a donut from the first batch (when it’s cool enough to touch). You will find the inside fluffy and fully cooked.

Be wary of other donut cake recipes that list frying times in minutes instead of seconds. Over-frying makes the fritters crispy and dry.

The only difference between this Christmas cake donut recipe and the cake donut recipe I use for other applications is a slight increase in the amount of cinnamon.

For the topping, I add 1/4 teaspoon of meringue powder with the powdered sugar. This ingredient is not necessary, but it helps make the icing firmer.

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