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Kids in the Kitchen

Perfect-for-Fall Cinnamon Doughnuts (Baked, Not Fried!)

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Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
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Whoever says that if something tastes good it’s bad for you hasn’t tried one of these.
Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts

Prep time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes


Makes: 12 doughnuts

Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts
Baked Cinnamon Doughnuts

Prep time: 15 minutes

Baking time: 15 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes


Makes: 12 doughnuts

What Kids Learn
  • To make tasty, lower-cal doughnuts, bake instead of fry them.
  • Classic, All-American doughnuts are cooked in boiling hot oil.
  • You can whip up a batch of these straight-from-the-oven doughnuts in 30 minutes flat.

My mother used her deep fryer only occasionally, but whenever she dug it out, my siblings and I would hang around the house to see what treats would emerge from the bubbling hot oil.

Her apple fritters, fried chicken, and homemade french fries were legendary. But her cinnamon doughnuts, or “fried cakes,” as my father used to call them, were one of the treats we loved best!  My mother would transfer the freshly baked doughnuts from the bubbling hot oil into a brown paper bag and shake them in confectioners’ sugar or a cinnamon-and-sugar mix—and she’d serve the doughnut holes made from doughnut scraps for breakfast the next day.

A few years back, I decided to make doughnuts with my kids. Baking seemed healthier than frying, and after experimenting a bit (and purchasing some nifty doughnut molds), we baked our first successful batch.

Since then, my kids and I have baked dozens of doughnuts perfect for parties, breakfast in the fall, a Halloween treat, or a post-soccer game snack for the team.

OK, so maybe doughnuts aren’t the best breakfast option from a health standpoint, but as an occasional treat, they sure can get a kid’s day off to a tasty start. Serve with milk and a piece of fruit. These doughnuts will stay fresh for two days, or you can freeze them.

What You’ll Need

For the doughnuts

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 cups white whole-wheat flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder

For the cinnamon-and-sugar mix

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
What to Do

To make the doughnuts:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Let your aspiring baker spray 2 six-cup standard doughnut pans with cooking spray. Crack eggs into a large bowl, or show your little chef what to do.
  2. Let her beat the eggs with a fork or whisk until they are nice and foamy. Next, she can pour in the melted butter. Have her measure and add the vanilla extract and the milk. Using a portable handheld electric mixer or a whisk, let your junior baker beat these ingredients for one minute or until they are well blended.
  3. Next, invite your assistant to measure the sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
    Teachable Moment: Worldly-Wise Doughnut Facts
    • Doughnuts were brought to the United States by Dutch settlers. Originally, the sweet treats were called oliekoek, meaning “oily cakes.”
    • The first doughnuts were pieces of dough fried in hot oil. There are different stories as to how they got the ring shape that we all know today.
    • The most commonly told story about the origin of ring doughnuts is the hole in the center allows the dough to cook evenly; before, thick pieces of dough ran the risk of coming out of the fryer still raw in the center.
    • Americans absolutely love their doughnuts. Each year, food producers in the U.S. churn out more than 10 billion doughnuts! The largest doughnut on record was a jelly doughnut. Made in Utica, New York, the doughnut weighed 1.7 tons, and was 16 feet wide and 16 inches high.
  4. Help her pour the egg mixture into these dry ingredients. Using a handheld electric mixer, she can beat this for one minute or until smooth. She can spoon the batter into the prepared doughnut pans.
  5. Bake the doughnuts for 15 minutes, or until they spring back when lightly pressed with your finger. Remove the doughnuts from the oven and let them cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Remove the doughnuts from the pans.
To make the cinnamon-sugar mix:
  1. Ask your doughnut baker to measure the sugar and the cinnamon onto a large plate. He can stir this until the cinnamon is nicely blended into the sugar.
    Teachable Moment: Ancient- and Modern-History Cinnamon Facts
    • People have used cinnamon since the times of the Ancient Egyptians. Not only did they enjoy it as a food, but they used it to preserve mummies as well!
    • The Ancient Egyptians also used cinnamon as a medicine. And they were onto something, too! Studies today have shown cinnamon can help treat problems with cholesterol and arthritis, and can help improve memory.
    • Cinnamon is made from the soft, dried bark of an evergreen tree. Cinnamon trees can grow as tall as 60 feet!
    • The pieces of cinnamon that you can find in the supermarket are called either “sticks” or “quills.” These come in two varieties: Ceylon cinnamon or cassia.
  2. Let him place the doughnuts into the cinnamon-sugar mixture and roll them in the mixture until they are well-coated.
  3. Serve the doughnuts warm or at room temperature. They taste great either way!