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you just can’t beet it

Recipe: blood orange curd-filled beet doughnuts

There is chocolate for the chocoholics and then there is fruity for the fruit lovers. It isn’t just that I love fruity flavors, but they tend to come in a nice array of colors too. Remember me? I’m a parrot and I love bright colors.

sometimes even pink

Today’s recipe is indeed intended for Valentine’s day, mainly because it is pink and cute. But it’s more than that because it is both fruity AND vegetable-y. I’ve been looking around for something sweet to do with beets. So, let’s get our vegetable on, people.

flour, milk, butter, powdered sugar, cardamom, oranges, beet, salt, yeast, egg, grand marnier, beet juice

peel and dice and don’t wear white

I found an interesting recipe for beet doughnuts on Almond Corner. Most recipes call for roasting beets, but I liked this one because it cooks the beets on the stove top, simmering them in orange juice. By the time the beets are tender (it takes a while) the orange juice has reduced considerably so there isn’t a whole lot of liquid left. I puréed the beets with the juice, which meant I added a little more flour to the dough later.

diced beets, cardamom pods, and orange juice



Meanwhile, heat the milk and beet juice together. Now, beet juice isn’t something I commonly see. I worried that I would have to make my own beet juice, somehow, but thankfully I found an obscure bottle of organic beet juice at Whole Foods… from Switzerland. Because my beets had enough liquid from the orange juice for the purée, I just added all of the milk-juice mix to the yeast and let it foam up.

add beet juice to the milk

foamy yeast

There are cake doughnuts and yeast doughnuts, and I most definitely prefer yeast doughnuts for their airy and delicate texture. I also love the flavor that yeast imparts on all things bready. I made a few adjustments to the recipe because I didn’t have fresh yeast. Don’t make a 1:1 substitution of active dry yeast for fresh yeast because that would result in a giant hot air balloon. And because I included the orange juice rather than straining the beets, I added another 1/3 cup of flour to avoid the stickypalooza.

pouring grand marnier into the yeast mixture with the flour, yolk, sugar, beets, butter

knead or mix (with dough hook) into a soft, silky dough

Cover the dough and let it rise in a warm location until it doubles in size. Turn it out onto a floured surface and roll it to about 1/2-inch thickness. I think I may have manhandled the dough a little too much because my doughnuts turned out a little denser than I would have liked. I’m heavy-handed with dough since I don’t bake a lot of breads, mainly to avoid pigging out on it all. Maybe if I practiced more, I’d develop the finesse of a true baker. Back in Gotham…

roll out the dough

cut shapes

let rise on a baking sheet

I didn’t own any heart-shaped cutters when I decided to make this recipe. Initially I was adamant about NOT making heart-shaped anythings. Then I remembered my grandma’s favorite shape was a heart and her favorite color was pink (and purple, but I didn’t make purple doughnuts). Not that it matters to her now that she’s gone, but it kinda mattered to me. Well, you know what happens when you walk into those fancy overpriced cookware stores, don’t you? They sell heart-shaped cutters in a set of four sizes and who the hell can resist the itty bitty baby heart size? Imagine me with the word “SUCKER” across my forehead. Of COURSE I bought them.

After a rise and then a fry, the hearts were more like subtle chubby hearts, but still cute. I made several round ones (large and small) as well. [Every time I cut out round shapes I hear the old guy in Raising Arizona say, “…not unless round is funny.”] When they cooled, I poked a hole in the side of each doughnut and swept out a small cavity in the center with a chopstick. Then I filled a pastry bag with blood orange curd and piped it into the doughnut.

make a cavity

fill with blood orange curd

The doughnuts are good filled, but like I said before, I think I manhandled the dough too much and wound up with a somewhat denser dough than I prefer in my yeast doughnuts. I also used a small saucepan to fry the doughnuts which made for fast and wild temperature fluctuations resulting in a few burnt, but underdone in the center doughnuts. Once I got it under control, the rest of the doughnuts turned out beautifully. These are best eaten fresh and with good company.

the little ones are the best

share with the ones you love

Blood Orange Curd-Filled Beet Doughnuts
[print recipe]
adapted from Almond Corner

scant 1/2 cup (50 g) beets, peeled and diced
2 oranges, juice of (about 1 1/4 cup)
3 cardamom pods
5/8 cup (5 oz.) milk
5/8 cup (5 oz.) beet juice
2 1/4 tsps (or 1 envelope) active dry yeast or 20 g fresh yeast
4 cups (500 g) flour plus 1/3 cup (about 40 g) to add if necessary
1/2 cup (50 g) powdered sugar
4 tbsps (50 g) butter, melted and lukewarm
1 egg yolk
2 tbsps orange liqueur (I used Grand Marnier)
pinch salt
oil for frying
2 cups blood orange curd

Place the beets, orange juice, and cardamom in a small saucepan and simmer until the beets are tender and orange juice is considerably reduced (but not turned into a fruit leather). Purée the beets, orange juice, and cardamom pods in a blender or food processor. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and beet juice until warm, but not boiling. Place the yeast in a mixing bowl. When the temperature of the milk mixture comes down to 115°F, pour it over the yeast and let it stand until it becomes foamy – about 10 minutes. Add the beet purée, flour, powdered sugar, butter, egg yolk, orange liqueur, and a pinch of salt to the yeast. Mix the dough with the dough hook of a stand mixer or by knead by hand until the dough is smooth and silky to the touch (not sticky). Place the dough in a bowl and cover with plastic. Let the dough sit in a warm location and rise until it has doubled in size (about an hour).

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured work surface and roll the dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out shapes and place them on a baking sheet to rise for 30 minutes. Heat at least 2-inches of oil to 360°F (use a thermometer to keep track of the temperature) and begin frying a couple of doughnuts at a time – about 1 minute per side depending on the size of the doughnut. The smaller ones will cook faster. When the bottom has turned golden (not dark brown!) flip the doughnut over to fry the other side. When the doughnut is done, remove it from the oil to a cooling rack. Repeat for all of the doughnuts. Take a cooled doughnut and pierce the side with a chopstick, sweeping out a space in the center. Fit a pastry bag with a small tip (small enough to fit in the doughnut hole) and fill the bag with the blood orange curd. Take care not to overfill the bag, cause that just makes a mess. Place the tip of the bag into each doughnut hole and fill with curd. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Makes anywhere from 12 large doughnuts to 30+ little doughnuts.

35 nibbles at “you just can’t beet it”

  1. Tina says:

    Love the twist on the doughnuts :) This looks great!

  2. Barbara says:

    I think I would have clicked with your Grandmother. Hearts and pink.

    Awesome recipe Jen. Not that I’ll ever make it…..unless I conquer my deep frying fear.


  3. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    These are so beautiful!! Love that filling!! And the little hearts are so pretty!

  4. Katherine says:

    This is such a cute recipe!! Love the hearts and its an interesting filling too ;)

  5. Kristin says:

    Yep…doughnuts have got to be raised. That’s quite an ambitious recipe. I enjoyed watching you make them, but doubt I’ll do it. How was the cardamom with the beets? I made a beet & carrot soup that was delicious, and I’m thinking maybe a little bit of cardamom next time might be interesting.

  6. Mark says:

    Wow. Beets are so versatile, but this has to be the most unique beet recipe I have ever seen. The doughnuts look and sound really delicious.

  7. Meghan says:

    Gorgeous! I am now drooling.

  8. Bev Weidner says:

    I. Freaking. Love. This.

  9. keiko says:

    oh my, wish I could taste these right now! x

  10. Jenny says:

    I. Freaking. Agree. With. Bev. Weidner!

  11. Alaiyo Kiasi says:

    A healthy doughnut {gasp}? My dreams have finally come true. It has blood oranges (love ’em), beets, and cardamom as well. I believe my pulse is rising at the thought of making these gorgeous treats! Thanks for the step-by-step visuals. It helps to ensure success with replicating the recipe.

  12. Bridget says:

    Well, those are just adorable. I’m working against a lifelong prejudice against beets formed as a result of my mom’s horrible beet soup. However, what better way to undo that than put them in pink donuts?!

    I’m wondering if the dense dough is a result of the orange juice and not overworking. In my experience, it’s actually really hard to overwork yeasted doughs. But, I once added the leftover juice from straining canned tomatoes to pizza dough instead of using water in the dough like normal, and the dough was a lot tougher and the pizza didn’t rise as much in the oven. I think acidic ingredients like that mess with the formation of gluten. On the other hand, it doesn’t sound like there was much orange juice left after simmering, plus I would have a hard time choosing to discard the beautiful ruby red beety orange juice instead of adding it to the dough too.

  13. Olga says:

    Do you think this recipe would work well without a filling? I have some beets and oranges to get rid of but not blood oranges. Not sure I’ll have time to make the curd.

  14. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence says:

    Wow, awesome. I love the combination of beets and orange.

  15. Valerie says:

    I love that the pink colour comes from something natural! (And it’s not a My Little Pony pink.) :-)
    These doughnuts are adorable. And blood orange curd…that’s sheer genius.

  16. Sweets for your Sweet: Valentine’s Day Round Up « The Craving Chronicles says:

    […] champagne cupcakes for two from Sweet Peony Blood orange curd-filled beet doughnuts from Use Real Butter Nutella love letter pancakes from Kitchen Simplicity Share this […]

  17. Jo says:

    What a great idea, looks wonderful and delicious.

  18. Tes says:

    Wow they looks so gorgeous. I’d love to try this for Valentine’s :)

  19. Nan says:

    I love beets! He loves beets! Perfect! Happy V-tines day!

  20. Magda says:

    Even though I’m a chocoholic, these look pretty amazing to me. They’re so cute!

  21. Charmaine @ Speakeasy Kitchen says:

    How luxurious! These look amazing!

  22. Tamar@StarvingofftheLand says:

    Will you marry me?

  23. Connie says:

    Amazing as usual. I just lose myself in your posts. The blood orange curd was awe inspiring as is, then you punch it up to beet donuts and blood orange curd. You are out of control. I love it!!

  24. farmerpam says:

    I have to admit I made the chocolate cloud cake, OMG. Now I can pretend these are healthy because they have beets in them, right? I’m assuming I can just throw some beets in my juicer, cuz there’s no store around here that’s gonna sell beet juice. The kids are going to be very confused. I came here because I needed to smile and it worked. Thanks.

  25. Best of the Web: Valentine’s Day, Part 2 » Harvard Common Press says:

    […] Orange Curd-Filled Beet Doughnuts I’ve never been a huge fan of beets…until I discovered Use Real Butter’s recipe for blood orange curd-filled beet doughnuts! Cut into little hearts and dusted with powdered sugar, these are a perfect treat to share on Valentine’s Day. […]

  26. chriesi says:

    So cute! I am glad that the recipe worked out for you and you enjoyed them! Blood orange curd is just irrisistible!

  27. Mrs Ergül says:

    Going to make this one day but will skip on the curd. I have a ton of egg whites in the freezer, can’t do any more yolk-heavy recipes until I use some of the whites up. Revisiting the post again on my mega size monitor, the 2nd photo with the cut up dough looks like they are floating!

  28. Kelly says:

    Oh my god! These look amazing! To think I’m not even a doughnut fan… I need. Now. Damn.

  29. shallotry says:

    Is the purpose of the beet juice just to get the dough more pink? That’s not a big motivation for me, figured I’d swap out beet juice for some other liquid, perhaps orange juice. Thoughts?

  30. jenyu says:

    Barbara – you would have loved her and she you. xo

    Kristin – the cardamon was lovely!

    Mark – I really like beets, so I was really excited to make the doughnuts :)

    keiko – thank you, dear xo

    Bridget – huh, that’s a really interesting observation. I’ve never put OJ in dough before, so you could be totally on target there. But yeah, I didn’t want to throw away that lovely juice either!

    Olga – the curd takes very little time to make and you can of course, make the curd with regular oranges instead of blood oranges. My own personal feeling is that the curd makes the doughnut.

    Tamar – ummmm…. yes! :)

    Connie – ;)

    farmerpam – I hope it worked out for you!

    chriesi – thank you!

    shallotry – well, if you read Bridget’s comment, there is the possibility that orange juice makes the dough less tender. I suppose the beet juice is for a more pink color. Can you find beet powder? Maybe use milk as a sub.

  31. shallotry says:

    Curd made tonight. A bag of beets awaits. Thinking I’ll sub with milk, and will reply with results.

  32. shallotry says:

    I’ve got some very, very bright pink dough here even without the beet juice. Rolling it out now, will report back with results! (This is my first time making doughnuts.)

  33. Blood Orange Curd + Bars « local kitchen says:

    […] looking to try something a little different. And while I was very intrigued by these pink-on-pink curd-filled beet doughnuts, I didn’t think I had homemade doughnuts in me this week. Then Julia posed a question on her […]

  34. Philip says:

    Well done. If there’ a next time, here are some tips you might consider:
    – increase the yeast by 50%. You have more mass here than just a standard raised doughnut.
    – try pastry flour
    – invest in a deep fryer. Seriously, the best $100 you’ll ever spend. Especially if you have the counter space to leave it out. I recommend grapeseed oil, or 50/50 grapeseed/peanut. Beignets on Sunday mornings!

  35. Valentine’s Day Roundup 2012 | un pastiche says:

    […] blood orange curd filled beet donuts? naturally red :] […]

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