Posted in Joy the Baker.
March 4, 2022

Lemon Poppy Seed Old Fashioned Doughnuts


Two glazed doughnuts piled together.

Let’s talk about truly ICONIC baking combinations.  Chief among these iconic flavor marriages is chocolate and peanut butter which I love in everything from chocolate cake, to spoonfuls of peanut butter dipped into the chocolate chip bag. There is also browned sugar and banana, made even better if you set both on fire and serve them with vanilla ice cream.  And perhaps the most spring-like pairing: lemon poppy seed. Bright, nutty, and bound to make every brunch offering that much more fancy. See: Lemon Poppy Seed Breakfast Rolls and Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes.

I can’t choose a favorite flavor pairing and luckily that’s not the task today.  Today we’re incorporating lemon and poppy seeds into my favorite baking flex – the homemade doughnut.  These old fashioned doughnuts are the cakey, crackly sort that fry up golden brown with plenty of peaks and valleys for lemon glaze.  No need to fuss with yeast and resting times – a straight path to lemon doughnut brunch victory.  Ready for it?

Ingredients for lemon poppy seed doughnuts in small bowls.

Here’s the ingredients you’ll need to make these Lemon Poppy Seed Old Fashioned Doughnuts:

•  cake flour (here’s how to make your own cake flour if you don’t have any on hand)

•  unsalted butter

•  granulated sugar

•  lemon zest and lemon juice

•  egg yolks

•  kosher salt and baking powder

•  sour cream

•  vanilla extract and lemon extract if you have it.

•  poppy seeds

•  powdered sugar

•  whole milk

Mixing together sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl.

We’ll start by mixing together lemon zest and granulated sugar. Rubbing the two together will create an incredibly fragrant and flavorful sugar.  All of the lemon essential oils will be released into the sugar and distributed through the whole doughnut – a sweet little baker’s trick to get the most flavor out of the citrus.

After the granulated sugar has been flavored with lemon, use an electric hand mixer to beat in the softened butter.  There’s a small amount of butter for the sugar we’re working with so the butter and sugar mixture will be sandy. Beat in the eggs yolks to a creamy pale and smooth consistency.  Add vanilla extract (and lemon extract if you’re using it).

In a medium bowl whisk together the dry ingredients: cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture and beat to combine.

Beat in the sour cream followed by the remaining dry ingredients.  What you’ll have is a soft, tender and sticky dough. Something like a very thick cake batter.

Cover and refrigerate the dough allowing the flour to absorb the moisture and settle.

I find it easiest to roll this soft dough out between two pieces of parchment paper.  Generously flour one piece of parchment, scrape the chilled dough onto the paper, sprinkle the top of the dough generously with flour and press another piece of paper onto the dough.

Use a floured round biscuit cutter and cut 3-inch doughnuts with 1-inch holes.  Use a floured spatula or bench scraper to lift the doughnut rings onto a parchment lined baking sheet before frying.  I like to keep my cut doughnuts chilled in the fridge before frying.

Heat a few inches of vegetable, peanut, or canola oil in a shallow pan to 350 degrees F.  Fry in batches, returning the oil to temperature between each batch.

Fried old fashioned doughnuts on a cooling rack

Allow the freshly fried doughnuts to cool until warm but just able to handle.

Fried doughnut getting dipped in lemon glaze.

While the doughnuts cool, whisk together a quick glaze with powdered sugar, browned butter, and whole milk.  You can add some of the poppy seeds directly to the glaze or save them to top the doughnuts.  Dip the warm doughnuts in glaze and let the warmth of the doughnuts spread the glaze down the sides of the doughnut.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Homemade doughnuts are a wonder every single time but these are especially satisfying. No yeast. No rising. Lots of bright citrus flavor and nutty seed bites.

One thing I love about these cake doughnuts? They’re great even a day after baking. Just toast in a toaster oven to warm and you’ve got another fresh doughnut on your hands.

Find the recipe below and leave any questions below.  Rate and comment if you made the recipe!  I can’t wait for you to try this one!

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Lemon Poppy Seed Old Fashioned Doughnuts

A classic recipe made even brighter with lemon and poppy seeds.

  • Author: Joy the Baker
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 6 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
  • Yield: 810 doughnuts 1x
  • Category: breakfast, brunch

For the doughnuts:

  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (totally optional if you don’t have any)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • Peanut, vegetable, or canola oil for frying

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted until browned and cooled slightly
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 12 tablespoons whole milk
  • 11 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds plus more for topping
  1. In a small bowl rub together lemon zest and granulated sugar until fragrant. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, using electric hand beaters, cream together softened butter and granulated sugar. Whip until pale and fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon extract, if using.
  4. Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat until almost combined, but flour streaks still remain. Add all of the sour cream and bet on low speed to combine. Add the remaining dry ingredients and beat on low just until no flour streaks remain. Use a rubber spatula to finish incorporating the batter and to clean the sides of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  5. When you’re ready to roll out and fry the dough, first set yourself up for success. Generously flour a rimmed baking sheet and set aside. Flour a piece of parchment paper or waxed paper. Turn the chilled dough out onto the floured paper. It will be sticky! Flour the top of the dough and place a second piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of the dough. Roll into a 3/4-inch thickness. Carefully peel off the top piece of paper.
  6. Flour a 3-inch round cutter and a 1-inch round cutter. Cut as many doughnut shapes as you can, flouring the cutter between each cut. Use an offset (or any) spatula to carefully transfer the doughnut shapes to the prepared baking sheet, separating the doughnuts from the doughnut holes. Gently gather and re-roll the scraps to create as many doughnuts as possible. Refrigerate while you heat the oil.
  7. Place 2-inches of oil in a large shallow pan or a Dutch oven. Clip a fry or candy thermometer on the edge of the pan and bring oil to 340-350 degrees F.
  8. While the oil comes to temperature, whisk together the glaze ingredients until you have a thick but pourable glaze.
  9. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and place a cooling rack over the paper towels.
  10. Remove the doughnuts from the refrigerator and place 2 or 3 doughnuts in the hot oil. They will sink but begin to float after 10-15 seconds. As soon as the float, flip each doughnut and fry for 2 – 2 minutes 30 seconds. Flip and fry for another 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from the oil and place on the cooling rack. Allow to cool for 1 or 2 minutes until cool enough to handle, before dipping in the prepared glaze and lightly sprinkling with more poppy seeds.
  11. Bring the oil back up to temperature before frying more doughnuts in batches. Fry the doughnut holes for 3 minutes total.
  12. Enjoy immediately though these doughnuts are also good the day after they’re fried. Store in an airtight container at room temp and toast leftovers in a toaster oven for a few minutes before serving

Joy the Baker – Founder March 4, 2022 at 07:59AM

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