Blackberry Lemon Cake Doughnuts with Crunchy, Lemon Sugar Topping

I enjoy a doughnut every once in a while, and the mini cake doughnut pans that I bought over the summer have been calling my name for months now from my cupboard.

This was my first time making cake doughnuts that are baked in the oven, so I decided to use two of my favorite flavors: blackberry and lemon.

I loved that I didn’t have to take out the deep fryer, fill it to the rim with oil, wait while the oil came to frying temperature, fry the doughnuts in batches, dry them on paper towels, top them (with sugars, nonpareils, or glazes), clean and wipe out the fryer, and dispose of the oil.  It makes me tired just to write down all those steps!  However, the deep fryer yields its own tasty results…see Black and White Week: White Chocolate Glazed Doughnut Holes.

Today I came up with this recipe for cake doughnuts which includes: blackberries, lemon zest, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, and a generous dusting of turbinado sugar.  I couldn’t find any other recipe like this one, so I had to make my own!

The resulting mini doughnuts are a purplish, pink hue and are studded with blackberry bits.  The lemon sugar topping is tart and lovely.  If I make this recipe again, I might add a bit of blackberry syrup to get a more intense berry flavor.

Blackberry Lemon Cake Doughnuts with Crunchy, Lemon Sugar Topping
Makes 24 mini doughnuts.  I am sure you could make bigger ones though, using the same dough and larger doughnut pans.

For the doughnut batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup granulated sugar (you could also use turbinado sugar here)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 large egg, beaten
the juice of half of a lemon (other half reserved for the topping, see below)
about 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest (the remainder is reserved for the topping, see below)
4 tablespoons of buttermilk

For the fruit:
1/2 cup blackberries (fresh or frozen)
about 1 tablespoon of turbinado sugar
sprinkling of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons of melted butter, cooled

For the topping:
12 tablespoons of turbinado sugar
about 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of lemon zest (the more you add, the more lemony it will be!)
the juice of the remaining half of the lemon


Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Grease two mini doughnut pans with cooking spray.

Prepare the blackberries.  If using frozen blackberries, put the berries into a bowl and add the turbinado sugar and a sprinkling of ground cinnamon.  Allow the berries to sit at room temperature and thaw, or marinate (if using fresh fruit) while preparing the doughnut batter.

These blackberries look so good, I'm surprised I didn't eat them on the spot!

The berries get a sweet and spicy coating...

Combine the first six ingredients, the dry ingredients, in a bowl.

All the dry ingredients.

Next, mix together the beaten egg, the juice of 1/2 of the lemon, about 1/2 teaspoon of the lemon zest, and the buttermilk in a bowl.

Mash the blackberries with a spoon and stir in the melted butter.  Add the berry mixture to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

Here are the mashed blackberries. Be a little careful not to get too excited with the mashing, red berry color is only pretty in the bowl, not on walls and counter tops!

The blackberries become a bright pinkish color. It reminded me of borscht.

Incorporate the wet ingredients into the dry until the batter just comes together.

The color of this batter is delightful! So fun and bright!

Spoon the batter into a gallon-sized food storage bag and pipe the batter into each mini doughnut cavity.  Do not over fill the pan, the doughnuts will puff up quite a bit in the oven, so err on the side of less batter rather than more!

All the little doughnuts ready to be baked. After I filled them up, I took my finger and made sure all the batter was off of the middle hole area of each cavity so that I would have nice, round doughnut holes in each one.

Bake the doughnuts for 10 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and allow the doughnuts to cool.

These doughnuts are so cute...

Meanwhile, prepare the topping.  Combine 12 tablespoons of turbinado sugar in a bowl with the remaining lemon zest (about 1/2 teaspoon).  Take a small plate and squeeze the juice from the remaining half of the lemon, as you would if you were getting ready to dip the rim of a margarita glass.

Stir the lemon zest and turbinado sugar together for a few minutes until the sugar is very aromatic and it begins to turn a bit yellow in color.

Dip the top of each doughnut first in the lemon juice, then in the lemon sugar to coat.

Dipping the doughnuts in the lemon sugar is the fun part!