These pumpkin spice doughnuts are wonderfully soft and pillowy, made with enriched dough flavoured with spices and filled with pumpkin spice cream. With the beautiful, golden crust covered in cinnamon sugar, these sensational doughnuts are also shaped like mini pumpkins!
Homemade doughnuts may need a bit of time to make, but the efforts are totally worth it. The puffy, buttery crumb, combined with aromatic spices and creamy filling tastes like a slice of heaven with every bite you take! They may look complicated, but it is actually a really easy recipe, where the only skill you will need is to be patient.
October is here, and that is officially a month of all things pumpkin. These wonderful doughnuts, shaped like pumpkins would make a great treat for the upcoming Halloween. But they are equally good to be served at any seasonal gathering or celebrations.
They are an adaptation of my Small Batch Doughnuts recipe, with an addition of aromatic spices and creamy pumpkin filling. It's a proper, yeast risen, fried doughnut, which personally, I find much more delicious in comparison to baked donuts.
This is a small batch recipe, producing 6 doughnuts, but can be easily doubled, if you'd like.
To make these pumpkin spice donuts, you will need only a handful of the ingredients for the dough, and for the filling.
- Doughnuts dough is made from strong white flour, sugar, yeast (mixed with warm water), salt, mixed spice/ pumpkin spice, egg and unsalted butter.
You can use any type of yeast, including fresh yeast. Just make sure to follow the instructions on the packet. Some types of yeast will require 'activation' first (mixing it with warm liquid), while other types can be added straight into the dry ingredients.
- To make pumpkin spice filling you will need to gather pumpkin puree, soft cheese (I use Philadelphia), icing sugar and ground mixed spice/ pumpkin pie spice.
- To serve: caster/ superfine sugar, cinnamon and cinnamon sticks.
- You will also need about 1 litre of vegetable oil for frying.
This recipe can also be doubled, to make bigger batch of 12 doughnuts.
Scroll down to the bottom of this post for the recipe card and full list of the ingredients.
Start the recipe by combining the yeast and warm water together (depending on the type of yeast you are using). Set the mixture aside for a couple of minutes, allowing the yeast to activate. Combine all of the dry ingredients together, then add the yeast mixture to them. Follow by adding the remaining wet ingredients: an egg and the butter.
Hint: Make sure the butter is soft and at room temperature, before adding it slowly to the dough. Add it in small amounts, about ⅓ at a time, and only add the next portion once the previous addition have been fully incorporated into the dough.
Once the dough comes together, transfer it to a clean and lightly greased bowl and prove it until double in size. This should take about an hour (depending on how warm your kitchen is on the day).
Hint: To speed up the dough proving times, you can turn your oven on to it's lowest setting (50 degrees Celsius). Once heated, turn the oven off and place covered bowl with the dough inside of the oven (keep the oven door closed).
When the dough is ready, remove it from the bowl and place it onto lightly floured surface. Knead it briefly to knock out the air bubbles. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces, and roll each piece into a tight ball.
Place the rolled balls onto a lightly floured baking tray/ oven tray. They are now ready for shaping.
Hint: Using digital kitchen scales will help you to make sure each doughnut is equal in size.
Shaping the doughnuts
When I tested this recipe, I tried two different methods of shaping. First one involved wrapping the kitchen string around the dough ball. The second method was to simply snip the sections of the dough with kitchen scissors.
I found the kitchen string method much longer, more fiddly and simply not suitable. While it could work with baked doughnuts, it simply wouldn't with fried version.
Once tied, the doughnut will then get deep fried with the string still attached to it. After frying, the string gets cut of and is removed. While the shape looked great, the doughnuts didn't cook properly, remaining raw inside. I also didn't enjoy removing the bits of string from the doughnuts.
Using the kitchen scissors to cut the dough is much easier, quicker and cleaner. I saw this idea at Good Housekeeping website and thought it was very clever! Simply use a pair of scissors to snip into each ball about 6-8 times around the edge. Make sure you don't cut all the way into the centre.
Hint: Don't worry about cutting the dough too evenly! The pumpkin shapes will come out even better, when they are irregular!
Once you have cut the shape on all of the doughnuts, cover them with oiled clingfilm or damp, clean tea towel and leave them for 45 minutes.
While they are second proving, prepare the pumpkin spice filling. Tip all of the ingredients into a bowl and using an electric mixer, mix until smooth and creamy. Transfer the mixture into piping bag fitted with the nozzle and place in the fridge until needed.
Just before frying the doughnuts, push the centre of each one of them with your finger or back of the spoon handle to make a deep indentation. Fry them for 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown, then transfer into a plate lined with paper kitchen towel.
As soon as the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, roll them in the mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
Use a skewer to poke a small hole at the bottom or at the side of each doughnut. Gently push in the tip of the piping bag and fill them up with pumpkin spice filling. They will expand and feel a little heavier as you do that.
Finally, finish them off by placing small cinnamon stick on top of each doughnut. If your cinnamon sticks are quite long, use a sharp knife to cut them in half.
If you are not a fan of pumpkin flavour, or simply want to mix things up a bit, try some of the below suggestions:
- Plain - skip the filling all together and enjoy these doughnuts plain, or with cinnamon sugar coating.
- Jam - use your favourite jam and pipe it inside of the doughnuts. If the jam is very set, loosen it up with a splash of hot water, to make it easier to pipe.
- Custard - use homemade or shop-bought vanilla custard instead of pumpkin spice filling.
- Citrus curd - lemon, orange or passion fruit curd would also work really well as the filling (check out my Homemade Lemon Curd recipe).
- Chocolate - fill them up with your favourite chocolate spread mixed with a small amount of cream.
- Add glaze on top - you could replace the sugary coating with simple glaze on top. Maple syrup or cinnamon glaze will taste delicious. You could also use raspberry glaze, like I did in my French Cruller Doughnuts recipe.
Other than heavy-bottomed pan (or deep-fat fryer), here's the list of kitchen equipment you will need for this recipe:
- Freestanding mixer with hook attachment plus handheld mixer for the filling
- Baking sheet/ oven tray
- Kitchen thermometer (or deep-fat fryer)
- Kitchen scissors
- Slotted spoon
- Dough scraper (optional, but makes things much easier)
- Kitchen scales (again optional, but helps to make sure all doughnuts are equal in size)
- Piping bag with medium plain nozzle (or zip-lock style bag with one of its ends snipped)
The dough scraper is helpful when handling and dividing the dough, but you can also use a spatula instead. Same goes for the palette knife. It makes lifting the doughnuts into the pan much easier, but you can also use a fish knife or a spatula.
You will also need some paper kitchen towels to rest the fried doughnuts on. This will help to absorb some of the oil from the doughnuts.
These pumpkin donuts taste best eaten fresh, on the day they were made. Keep them at room temperature at all times. They will become dry and will loose their soft and puffy texture with time. Doughnuts are not suitable for freezing.
If you gave any pumpkin spice filling left over, keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Use it in another recipe, or place it in the freezer friendly container and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
You could prepare the dough the day before. Make the dough as per the recipe instructions. Allow it to prove, until double in size. Knead it again to knock the air bubbles out, then cover and place in the fridge overnight.
Next day, remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 6 pieces. Follow the rest of the steps as per the recipe card.
The pumpkin filling can also be prepared a day ahead and stored in the fridge.
It is really important to keep an eye on the oil temperature at all times. If it gets too high, the doughnuts will colour too quickly and burn, remaining raw inside. If the temperature is too low, they will absorb the oil and become greasy.
Make sure the temperature is at 160 degrees Celsius for every batch of doughnuts you are about to fry. Reduce the heat or take the pan off the heat for a moment, if the temperature gets too hot.
The cinnamon sugar coating will stick to the doughnuts much better, while they are still warm. I recommend to cover them in sugar as soon as they are cool enough to handle.
Store any leftover cinnamon sugar in the airtight container or sealed jar and use it for another recipe.
If you try these Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts or any other of my recipes, feel free to leave me a comment or a rating below. I love hearing from you! To pin this recipe and save it for later, use the button on the recipe card or on any of the photos above.
Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts
- Freestanding mixer with hook attachment
- baking sheet/ baking tray
- dough scraper or spatula
- kitchen scales (optional)
- kitchen scissors
- palette knife (optional)
- kitchen thermometer or deep-fat fryer
- slotted spoon
- piping bag with plain nozzle
- 135 g strong white bread flour plus extra for dusting
- 25 g golden caster sugar plus extra for rolling
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice or pumpkin spice
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 40 ml warm water
- 1 large egg
- 30 g unsalted butter softened
- 1 litre vegetable oil for frying
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the spiced pumpkin filling:
- 150 g soft cheese room temperature
- 100 g icing sugar
- 100 g pumpkin puree
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice or pumpkin spice
- 6 small cinnamon sticks for decoration optional
- In a small jug, mix together the yeast and warm water and set aside for 2-3 minutes. (Make sure to double check the instructions on yeast packet as some may not need to be activated in warm liquid first).
- In a bowl of freestanding mixer fitted with the hook attachment, mix together the flour, 25 grams of golden caster sugar, salt and mixed spice or pumpkin spice. Add the yeast and water mixture, and mix on low speed for a minute. Add one egg and increase the speed to medium. Continue to mix the ingredients until they come together, about 5 minutes.
- With the mixer running on medium speed, start adding the butter, about ⅓ at a time. Once all the butter has been incorporated, increase the speed to high and mix for 5 more minutes, until you have smooth, shiny and stretchy dough (it may be just a little bit sticky, but it should be easy to handle). Shape the dough into a small ball and return to the bowl. Cover with clean tea towel or clingfilm and leave in a warm place until double in size, about an hour.
- Once the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl onto lightly floured surface. Knead it gently to knock it back. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Use the digital kitchen scales to ensure each doughnut is equal in size. Roll each piece into a tight ball using your palms, and place each ball on the lightly floured baking sheet/ baking tray. Using kitchen scissors, snip into each ball about 6-8 times around the edge, making sure you don't cut all the way to the centre. Cover the dough balls with oiled clingfilm or damp, clean tea towel and leave them to rise for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the pumpkin spice filling. Place all the ingredients into a medium bowl, and using handheld electric mixer, whisk to combine until smooth and creamy. Transfer into the piping bag fitted with plain nozzle and keep in the fridge until needed.
- Half-fill the medium, heavy-based pan with oil and bring to 160 degrees Celsius over a medium heat. Take a large plate and line it with paper kitchen towel. Take a medium bowl or another plate and fill it with the mixture of caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Push the centre of each doughnut down with your finger or the top of the spoon handle to make a deep indentation.
- When the oil is ready, use a palette knife or a fish slice to gently lift the doughnuts off the tray and into the pan with oil. Cook doughnuts in batches of 2 for 2 minutes on each side until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to lift the doughnuts onto the plate with kitchen paper. Remember to keep an eye at the oil temperature at all times. If it gets too hot, reduce the heat, or take the pan off the heat for a moment.
- Once the doughnuts are cool enough to handle (about 5 minutes), roll them in cinnamon sugar, poke a hole in the bottom or at a side of each doughnut, then gently push in the tip of the piping bag with pumpkin spice filling and fill the doughnuts. Place the cinnamon stick on top of each doughnut & enjoy!
Please note that all my recipes are developed and tested in metric grams. I recommend that you use digital scales for a more accurate results. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.
- Make sure to double check the instructions on the yeast packet. Some types of yeast do not require to be activated in warm liquid and can be added straight to the dry ingredients.
- Keep an eye on the oil temperature at all times, when frying the doughnuts. If the temperature is too high, they will colour too fast and burn, while being raw inside. If temperature is too low, they will absorb the oil and become greasy.
- Roll the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar while they are still warm, as it will help the sugar coating to stick to the doughnut.
- The doughnuts are best eaten fresh, on the day they are made.
- The doughnuts are not suitable for freezing.
- To make ahead, prepare the dough as per the recipe card up to step 4. Once the dough has risen, knock it gently in the bowl, to get rid of bigger air bubbles, then cover and transfer the bowl into fridge overnight. Next day, proceed to step 4.
- The pumpkin spice filling can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge. Any leftovers can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months.