I’m not ashamed to admit that my biggest store-bought guilty pleasure is a Zebra Cake. The best part is that they usually come packaged in a pair so you have to eat both right away in one sitting. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then I suggest you stop everything you’re doing right this second, and look up zebra cakes because Little Debbie sure knows what she is doing. She doesn’t mess around. The cakes are sweet but not too sweet, which if you ask me is the perfect balance for any dessert. They’re octagonal pieces of soft yellow cake filled with a marshmallow creme center and then completely covered in a vanilla icing and finished off with their signature chocolate strips, giving them that classic zebra look. I think I loved them even more because I thought zebras in general were so fascinating. And even though I’m a grown up now, and still think that zebras are just as cool, I don’t think I’ll ever get over these little cakes. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything, I just really love them.
I wanted to create something that was reminiscent of my favorite treat, so I thought what better way to commemorate a classic than by turning it into a delicious doughnut? And because these are no joke when it comes to sugar, icing, and creme, I knew I had to “lighten” them up somehow, so I decided to bake the doughnuts instead of deep frying them. It was the only way to go. I’m not always one to automatically jump on baked doughnuts because I feel like if I’m going to have a doughnut, I should go all the way and have a really good doughnut, but somehow baking these is crucial because it gives them that classic taste and texture from the original. If you don’t have a baked doughnut pan but have been meaning to get one, this is the recipe to do. Now is the time, don’t want any longer. The great thing is that you’ll have it for life and then you’ll be able to make doughnuts all the time. Did you know I have a doughnut section on the blog? I do! It’s on the homepage so when you have a chance, browse through it, there’s sure to be a doughnut or two you’ll be dying to try out.
I love recipes where you don’t have to worry about creaming together butter and sugar and then beating in eggs one at a time, that’s a lot of work sometimes. The good thing about this recipe is that you just combine the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately and then combine them together, stir and be amazed.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
**Note: Be careful to not over mix the batter at this point because the more you mix, the tougher the doughnuts will become. The goal here is to have soft doughnuts.**
Every time I make cakes that require milk, I always use buttermilk. It keeps them soft and moist (sorry, I hate that word but there’s no other way to describe it). I even use buttermilk whenever I make mashed potatoes. It’s a great thing to have on hand always. Perfect for pancakes and waffles too!
Fill two well-greased doughnut pans with the batter. You’ll have enough to make 12 baked doughnuts.
**Tip: If you want to make this process easier, rather than just spoon the batter in, you could transfer it to a piping bag fitted with a plain circle tip, and pipe the batter into the pans. That way you ensure that all the doughnuts are equal in size.**
Bake the doughnuts in a preheated 400 degree oven until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into one of them comes out clean, about 6 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them because you don’t want to overcook them, they’ll dry out that way!
Remove the pans from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before inverting them onto a wire rack to cool completely.
**Note: Make sure the doughnuts have cooled completely before cutting and filling with the marshmallow creme.**
Once cooled, slice the doughnuts in half (along the equator) with a serrated knife. Then fill a pastry bag with the marshmallow creme frosting, pipe out onto the bottoms of the doughnuts and then sandwich together. I bought disposable pastry bags from the craft store (or you can find them here on amazon) and they’re great to have on hand!
**Note: To make the frosting, cream together the butter, powdered sugar, marshmallow fluff, vanilla and cream on high until light and fluffy.**
Chill the filled doughnuts in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set. Then dip each one into the melted vanilla candy melts, turn over and coat the other side. Lift up and let the excess drip off and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then pipe out the melted chocolate candy melts on top of each.
**Tip: I really messed up by placing them back onto the wire rack to set, because then once they did set, the doughnuts wouldn’t come off the rack! SO place them directly onto parchment paper to set!**
Continue filling the doughnuts, dipping and topping each one. Then let them set for at least 20 minutes before eating. You definitely don’t want to eat them while the coating is still wet. It’ll be a bit mess, plus the classic zebra cakes are set so that’s how these should be.
Any leftover doughnuts (what leftovers for real) can be kept at room temperature, well wrapped in plastic wrap for up to 2 days. Any longer than that and the doughnuts will begin to dry out.
These doughnuts are made with a combination of all-purpose flour and whole flour, just because I love the texture and taste that the whole wheat flour gives them, BUT if you don’t have whole wheat flour on hand, then just use all purpose flour for the entire flour amount. It’ll still work out great!
If you don’t want to create these zebra cake doughnuts, bake off the doughnuts as written and then once cooled, just roll the baked doughnuts around in tons of powdered sugar! Then you have some good old fashioned powdered sugar doughnuts! This recipe is very versatile and even though you don’t want to go through the trouble of filling and coating, then at least you can still have doughnuts all the same!
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup whole wheat flour (or just all-purpose flour)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- pinch of fresh nutmeg
- pinch of ground cinnamon
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons (half a stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- ⅔ cup buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Marshmallow Fluff
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 2 (10-ounce) bags vanilla candy melts, melted
- ½ cup dark chocolate candy melts, melted
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease two baked doughnut pans with cooking spray or melted butter, set aside.
- To make the doughnuts, in a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar until evenly incorporated. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Do not over mix. Transfer the batter to a pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip, and pipe out the batter into the prepared doughnut pans. You could also just spoon the batter in. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 6 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the filling, combine the butter, powdered sugar, marshmallow fluff and heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high until fluffy and well-combined. Transfer to a pastry bag, fitted with a plain tip. To fill the doughnuts, using a serrated knife cut the doughnuts in half along the equator, then fill with the creme and sandwich together. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to set.
- Melt the vanilla candy melts, according to package directions, in a large shallow dish. Transfer the melted chocolate candy melts to a small piping bag, fitted with a small plain tip (or a plastic sandwich bag with the end snipped off). Dip the doughnuts completely into the vanilla candy melts, turning over to coat boat sides. Lift and drip off any excess coating. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with chocolate topping. Let set for about 20 minutes before eating. Leftovers can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days. Enjoy!