I am odd when it comes to citrus fruits: I love the flavors, but if it comes to eating one in its whole form, such as orange slices, I am completely turned off. The texture is wholly unappealing, like eating little fleshy juice pods enveloped in a flimsy waxy membrane. I can’t. I just can’t. However, if I smash and grind that orange’s flesh and release its juices into a glass, I can’t get enough! I enjoy adding elements of citrus into a fair share of my meals, be it laying lemon slices beneath my baked chicken breasts or folding lime zest into a bowl of whipped cream.
On a chilly Saturday with a light snow in the forecast, I was feeling cozy and ready to bake. After an eventful morning of going to the gym and…well…scrolling through the Explore tab on Instagram, my eyes were instantly drawn to ruby red triangles atop something surely delicious. I clicked the photo to enlarge it. “VEGAN OLIVE OIL AND BLOOD ORANGE MUFFINS”, I read in striking caps locked letters. I love blood oranges! Their color is so warm, impossible to draw my eyes away from. I said, “That’s it! That’s what I’m going to bake!” As I walked into CTown, the section usually full of autumn squashes had been replaced with grapefruits and oranges of all sizes. I excitedly walked towards them, my face falling when I realized that none of the oranges were of the blood variety! *sigh* I cracked my knuckles and twisted my mouth to express disappointment, but, a navel orange was better than no orange. I bought two large ones and headed home, eager to bake and improvise.
Upon arrival home, I quickly I remembered that I didn’t have a muffin pan, either. In my head, I recalled a roommate once saying to me, months ago, “I have one! I put it in the cupboard!” I looked and came up empty-handed. While my first inclination was to grab a small baking dish, there was my trusty donut pan, beckoning me to fill it up with some fresh batter.
I could not resist the call.
I have followed other vegan donut recipes in the past, such as Giselle’s bomb Vegan Baked Golden Milk Donuts (with my almost-vegan adaptation right here). I thought to myself, “Well…either this recipe will work, as is, as a donut…or it won’t. Let’s do this!” Indeed, I did it, and with very few tweaks, the end result was pretty damn delicious! What I pulled from my oven was a baked donut akin to cornbread with a citrusy essence. The polenta certainly provides a slightly crunchy interior; I baked the first batch of donuts immediately after making the batter, and I baked the second batch after I had let the better sit for almost 45 minutes. I’ve decided that letting it sit provides more time for the corn to soften; I could tell a distinct difference between the two batches of donuts. While both were great, I would opt for the slightly marinated corn kernel grounds.
Totally healthy, you guys. Totally. Eat the whole dozen with abandon!
Vegan Orange Polenta Baked Donuts
(Makes 12 donuts)
(Recipe adapted from Recipes From A Pantry’s recipe for Vegan Olive Oil & Blood Orange Muffins)
– 1 cup polenta, preferably coarse (I used Bob’s Red Mill Polenta)
– 1 cup flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used Malk Organics Unsweetened Almond Malk)
– 1/2 cup orange juice, fresh-squeezed (I used a large navel orange)
– 1/3 cup olive oil (or another vegetable oil may be substituted here)
– 1/3 cup sugar (I used Sugar In The Raw)
– 1 teaspoon orange zest
– 6 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
– 2 tablespoons orange juice; fresh-squeezed
Before We Get Started…
– If you have a six cavity donut pan (which is the usual capacity for your average donut pan), be sure to clean out and re-grease the cavities before baking your second batch of donuts; this recipe, if followed properly, makes exactly twelve donuts.
– The glaze mixture will look thin, and that is okay! The goal is not to glaze the donuts in a traditional sense; once dipped, the donuts will have a slight sheen and the remainder of the glaze will absorb into the donuts.
1.) Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease the inside of the donut pan’s cavities. Set aside.
2.) In a large bowl, combine the polenta, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
3.) In a medium bowl, whisk milk, orange juice, olive oil, and sugar until thoroughly combined.
4.) Pour the wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 30 – 45 minutes.
5.) Transfer mixture to a pastry bag or a gallon-sized seal-top plastic bag; if using plastic bag, cut off small corner to pipe out mixture. Evenly pipe mixture into cavities of donut pan until filled. NOTE: If you prefer not to pipe, you can carefully spoon mixture into the cavities until filled.
6.) Place in oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven and place pan on cooling rack for 20 minutes; carefully remove donuts from pan and allow to continue cooling on cooling rack. As mentioned in Before We Get Started..., clean and re-grease cavities to make remaining donuts; repeat directions in this step for remaining donuts.
7.) In a medium to large bowl, mix all ingredients until combined. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet or other easily washable surface to catch any glaze runoff. Gently dip the tops of the donuts into the glaze, carefully turn over, and place the unglazed side on the wire rack. Repeat until all donuts are glazed.