Gluten-free donuts Finnish style – no rice and corn

UPDATED RECIPE 1st May 2022:
I posted about the Finnish style Gluten-Free Donuts two years ago – now as my gluten-free baking skills have developed and I have experimented with things more I am updating the recipe:

These donuts are light and fluffy and they have a lovely hint of cardamom and vanilla. They have a tear apart texture just as you would have with a ‘normal’ donut. There have been now several comments with people making them that no one can tell they are gluten-free so definitely give them a go! For an enriched dough they are surprisingly easy to make, I make them in about two hours, maybe less.

Jump straight to the recipe

Here’s what I said about things two years ago…

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 preferred 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.

A tub of Sainsbury's Quark held between fingers. 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! If you can’t find it, you can use natural yoghurt instead.

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.

A ball of gluten-free doughnut dough sitting in a steel bowl, the dough isn't sticking to the edges of the bowl.
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 yeasted donuts (updated 1st May 2022)

The recipe makes about 18 medium sized donuts. If you want to half the recipe, use still one egg for the dough (or equivalent amount of egg replacer). It takes about two hours to make the donuts from start to finish, less if you are an experienced baker.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tub (250g) (appr. 200ml) quark or natural yoghurt (or DF alternative)
  • 125-150g (ml) boiling water (use more if using quark or firm set yoghurt_
  • (up to 100g (ml) water if needed, depends on the flours used)
  • 14-16g (4tsp) GF dry yeast (check ingredients, not typically in the FreeFrom isle but in the baking isle) appr. 2tbsp
  • 18g (2tbsp) psyllium husk (powder)
  • 8g (1tsp) salt
  • 100g (100ml) granulated sugar
  • 1tbsp ground cardamom (or 15pods ground with a mortar and pestle, squash the pods, remove husks and grind the seeds)
  • 10g (1tsp) vanilla paste (or essence, but use half if using scales)
  • 1 egg
  • 235g (400ml) sorghum flour / or millet (option for gf flour mix after the recipe)
  • 165g (300ml) tapioca starch
  • 50g (100ml) coconut flour / or ground almonds
  • 50g melted butter or margarine (use the mass guide ruler in the pack if you don’t have scales)
  • 500ml (400g) of vegetable oil for frying
  • appr. 200g (200ml) granulated 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 draft less 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 or plain gf flour mix) worktop, tip over the dough. Divide into 18or 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..

A stack of golden brown gluten-free donut rings coated with sugar on a white plate.
My alternative gf flour donuts were a success! They are best enjoyed fresh!

Updated recipe adaptations (1st May 2022)

Here are a couple of adaptations you can do to get the donuts you want to eat!

Using other flours or shop bought gluten-free flour mix

If you want to make the donuts with a plain gluten-free flour mix, you can use that to substitute the sorghum/millet and tapioca starch. If you want to leave the coconut/almond flour out, you can just use the flour mix (50g more of the flours you are using). The nut flour is there to help retain moisture so that the donuts keep better but to be fair, these are not likely to last long, as they get eaten!

Making the recipe dairy-free

You can use dairy free / vegan alternative baking margarine to substitute butter in the recipe. To substitute quark/yoghurt dairy free option has also been reported to work well. As different products might have a different amount of water in, leave some of the hot water aside and see if you need it after you have mixed the flour and melted fat in the dough. If the dough feels very stiff, add the remainder of the water in.

Substituting the egg to make recipe egg free

You can substitute the egg in the recipe with an egg replacer product of your preference and it should work well. My favourite one is to use ground golden linseed (flaxseed) and water, as it also adds slightly to the nutrients and fibre content of the recipe (although only slightly). Mix 30g of ground linseed to 60g of water and let it absorb and gel about 15minutes before mixing it in the dough the same time you are adding the flours in the liquids.

Baking the donuts in the oven instead of deep-frying

If you are worried about deep frying or would prefer a slightly lighter option of the donuts you can bake them in the oven. Heat your oven to 240C traditional/ 220C fan oven. Dip the formed donut rings in vegetable oil and place them on an oven tray lined with non-stick baking paper.

Bake the donuts for 10min in the higher temperature and then drop the oven temperature to 200C/180C fan oven and let bake for another 10-15min until they are golden brown. You might need to turn the tray around mid way to ensure an even bake.

The donuts will flatten a bit in the oven and the bake can be a bit more uneven than the deep fried end result, which I think brings the best out of these donuts. However, if you prefer the lighter option or are not ready to deal with hot oil, this definitely is worth a try! If you have a donut tray, you could form the donuts so that they fit the tray and the support the tray gives will help the donuts keep their shape better.

A recipe worth giving a go!

The donuts might look tricky, but when you have the different flours used and other ingredients needed at hand, they are relatively simple to make. For me it takes around two hours from start to finish to make these, of course on your first time round measuring and frying will take longer, but they are definitely worth the effort!

You can also make them your own by adding some flavourings like cinnamon or grated unwaxed lemon or lime zest into the coating sugar and even in the dough.

Do comment in this post when you make these, and ask any questions. Also make sure you follow the blog and me on social media like Facebook or Instagram. If you make these and post them on your social media, I would love it if you tag me in so I can see them too!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s