Smultringer med eplekompott

Homemade buttermilk donuts bakedin the oven for a taste of autumn


All photos by Kristi Bissell
Homemade apple donuts are easy to make at home with a simple batter and a nonstick donut pan, available at cooking stores or online.

True North Kitchen

Homemade buttermilk donuts (fried in lard, of course) have a long-standing tradition in my Norwegian-American family. They are deliciously tender, delicately spiced with nutmeg, and make the perfect accompaniment to a late morning cup of coffee. But frying donut batter in lard is definitely a project, and a messy one at that. It’s not something I’m inclined to do at home on a regular basis (if ever).

So what’s a homemade donut lover to do? Given that it is autumn, I suggest making a batch of these Easy Baked Apple Donuts instead. They are moist and cake-like with true apple spice flavor, just as a good apple donut should be. 

And the best part? No frying. Just a quick bake in the oven and they are ready to brush with a little melted butter and roll in sugar and spices. There is nothing quite like an apple donut in the fall. Like a trip to the pumpkin patch or raking leaves, enjoying a good apple donut with a cup of coffee is an autumnal right of passage. 

These donuts are quite simple. No need for a mixer, they come together quickly and easily by hand. But you will need a couple of nonstick pans for baking donuts. You can find them at many stores now, as baked donuts have become more popular, or you can buy them online. 

This recipe calls for a homemade Caramelized Apple Compote. Cooking and caramelizing the apples really brings out a deep apple flavor with toasty notes that makes these donuts a little extra special. Give them a little whirl in the food processor, and you have a delicious caramelized apple sauce, just perfect for these donuts. If you want to keep things easy and save yourself a step, store bought unsweetened applesauce will also work just fine.donuts

A few tips to keep in mind when baking these donuts:

Grease the pans, even though they are nonstick. It helps the donuts release cleanly.

When you mix the wet and dry ingredients, don’t overmix. Just stir until everything comes together and no streaks of flour remain. Overmixing things like cake batter or quick breads can lead to tough final product. A gentle hand when mixing is best.

Transfer the batter to a zipper bag with ¾-inch hole cut out of the corner. This is your impromptu piping bag and works just perfectly for squeezing the batter into the pan.

The donuts will not get particularly brown, so it can be difficult to determine doneness. The best way I’ve found is to touch the donut with your finger. It should feel firm and spring back slightly when it is fully baked. If you are feeling unsure, you can always insert a toothpick into the donut. It should come out clean with no raw batter attached to it.

Do not skip brushing them with butter and rolling them in sugar and spices!  Baked donuts on their own straight out of the oven are kind of sad and blond-looking. But once you’ve brushed them in melted butter and rolled them in a sugar and spice mixture, they will take on a whole new appealing appearance. The butter also brings a welcome richness (these donuts are quite low in fat) and the sugar mixture a delightful crunch and a little extra spicy sweetness.

Bakt smultringer med eplekompott

Easy Baked Apple Donuts

Makes 12 donuts

By Kristi Bissell for The Norwegian American

For the Donuts:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

½ tsp. fine salt

½ cup granulated sugar 

¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

2 tbsps. canola or vegetable oil

½ cup buttermilk

1 cup pureed Caramelized Apple Compote, see recipe to the right (about 1½ cups of compote processed in a food processor until smooth) or 1 cup store bought unsweetened applesauce

1 tsp. vanilla extract

For the Topping:

4 tbsps. unsalted butter, melted, and more butter for the pans

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsps. ground cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cardamom

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground cloves

Special equipment needed:

Nonstick donut pans for 1 dozen donuts

Here’s how you make it:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease pans with butter or spray with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Whisk sugar, brown sugar, egg, oil, buttermilk, apple compote, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until completely smooth. Add dry ingredients and combine with a rubber spatula until the batter just comes together.

Transfer batter to a large zipper bag. Cut a ¾-inch hole in the corner of the bag, and pipe the batter into a nonstick donut pan, filling up each donut space about halfway with batter.

Transfer to the oven and bake until donuts spring back when touched, about 12-15 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, make the topping. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and cloves in a shallow bowl. When donuts are cool enough to handle, brush each donut with melted butter and toss in sugar and spice mixture until donuts are fully coated. Serve warm.


Caramelized Apple Compote

Makes about 2 cups of compote

3 tbsps. unsalted butter

2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch cubes

1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed

Pinch of salt

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

½ vanilla bean, split and scraped

¼ cup water

Squeeze of lemon juice

Here’s how you make it:

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook until bubbling, about 1 minute.

Add apples, vanilla bean paste, and the pod and saute, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. 

Add water and cook for an additional minute. Remove from the heat and add lemon juice. Serve warm or allow mixture to cool completely before transferring to the refrigerator to store. Compote will last for about 1 week in the fridge.

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 8, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Kristi Bissell

Kristi Bissell is the founder of True North Kitchen, a Nordic food blog designed for the American home cook. She enjoys creating recipes that celebrate her Scandinavian heritage and that approach traditional Nordic ingredients in a modern, fresh and approachable way. Kristi is a native of Minneapolis and currently resides in Omaha, Neb. When she’s not cooking and baking in her cozy kitchen, Kristi teaches private and corporate yoga classes and leads Scandinavian cooking and baking workshops. For more information, visit her blog,