Gluten Free Vanilla Bean Donuts with Lemon-Mascarpone Icing

For some reason I haven’t made donuts at home like ever! I didn’t even own a donut pan, and I rarely fry things! I don’t know why I hadn’t thought to develop a donut recipe until now. Even though I’m a sucker for a good ole yeasted donut, cake donuts have their place in my heart, too! They are super simple to prepare in donut pans, and you can make them virtually any flavor you desire!

Since I’ve been limiting gluten lately, I decided to create a gluten free donut recipe, and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint!

I remember, as a kid, my dad would always volunteer for a local telethon. Sometimes, I would get to go with him. Let me tell you, I have always had a sweet tooth, and one of the main reasons I would like to accompany him to these events was because there was always a green room filled with as many donuts as you could stuff your face with. One night, I wasn’t being supervised very closely, and let's just say that my lanky, scrawny self inhaled about a dozen donuts! It wasn’t my proudest moment, but really it wasn’t the worst thing in the world! Plus, it’s a fun memory with my dad! However, I’m sure the memories of my sugar high leave my dad with a different opinion. Ha!

All that to say, I’ve always loved a good donut, and I’m so happy to now have one on my blog!

SO, what do we need to make these super delicious treats???

  • Vanilla bean - I use vanilla extract all the time, but there is just something about the intensity of the actual beans that is so so tasty!

  • Vanilla extract - Don't skimp! Only use the good stuff!

  • Gluten free 1:1 all-purpose flour - This is key. Make sure that the flour you are using states that it is a 1:1 ratio with regular all-purpose flour!

  • Cassava flour - I really like adding cassava flour to my gluten free baked goods. I think it helps ensure the texture is as close to "regular" flour as possible.

  • Mascarpone cheese - I love this stuff! It is similar in texture to cream cheese, but has just a bit more "tang" to it. So so good! If you aren't a fan, don't fret! You can certainly use regular cream cheese!

How do these donuts come together?

Make the donuts: I always like to "massage" my sugar with zest or vanilla beans. It helps infuse the flavor that much more into what you're making. Place sugar and scraped vanilla beans (not the pods!) in the bowl of a stand mixer. With your hands, scrape together, until the beans are evenly dispersed throughout the sugar. Add the butter, and place on the mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until sugar and butter are well combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, scraping down the bowl as needed.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the gluten free flour, cassava flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a measuring cup, mix together the milk and vanilla extract. Alternating the flour mixture and milk mixture, add the first ⅓ of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and beat on medium speed. Once combined, add ½ of the milk mixture, and mix to combine. Add another ⅓ of the flour mixture, mixing just to combine, then add the rest of the milk mixture. Finally, add the remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Pipe the donuts into the pan! If you don't have a piping bag, I recommend a gallon zip top bag instead. Place the mixture into a piping bag, and pipe the mixture into the donut pans, leaving about ¼ inch at the top of the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, spinning the pan halfway through baking. Remove from the oven, and let cool 1-2 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. If baking in batches, repeat the process with more batter, until you have used all your batter.

While the donuts are cooling, in a small bowl whisk together mascarpone cheese and powdered sugar, until thoroughly combined and smooth. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice, 1 ½ tsp lemon zest, coarse Kosher salt, and vanilla extract.

Make sure you have a hole in the center of your donuts. Once the donuts have cooled completely, you are ready to glaze! Some of the donuts may have risen so there is no hole in the center. If this is the case, and you desire a hole in the center, take the back end of a large pastry tip and press it down into the center of the donut. The back end of the pastry tip should be about 1 ½ inches in diameter. If you do not have a pastry tip, you can also use a small circular cookie cutter. The last option is to simply use a paring knife and trim out a hole.

Ice the bad boys! Once a hole has been formed, simply dip the top half of the donut into the mascarpone icing. Turn the donut over and let sit for 5 minutes. For thicker icing, repeat the process. Sprinkle the donuts with the remaining lemon zest.

ENJOY! And as always, let me know what you think in the comments and over on Instagram @sugarandsalt_co!

A few FAQ’s:

Can the donuts be frozen?

Yes! The unglazed donuts can be bagged and frozen for up to 2 months! When you’re ready to serve them simply take them out of the freezer about 2 hours in advance. Make the icing and glaze just before serving!

Can I change up the flavors?

Yes! You could easily add in some almond extract lemon zest! Some berries would be super tasty mixed in. If you wanted to make them chocolate donuts, simply omit the cassava flour and add in cocoa powder and 1 extra TBSP of sugar.

Can I use cream cheese instead of mascarpone?

Sure! I love a good cream cheese glaze. In fact, I have an awesome one in this recipe for my Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls!