Happy Birthday, John Chapman: Apple Butter Donut Holes

So, you don’t know who John Chapman is? If you’re from the US, you probably learned about him in school by the name of the folk hero Johnny Appleseed. Chapman was a practicing vegetarian who is credited with establishing many apple orchards as the American frontier expanded. You can read more about him on biography.com

Chapman’s planting wasn’t as random or goodhearted as the legendary character Johnny Appleseed. It was for profit and making of apple based alcoholic beverages rather than growing tasty apples for mamas baking pies or for kids to give to teachers. But, I’m still thankful that he planted orchards that would eventually lead to the orchards we have today that provide fujis, galas, jonagolds, granny smiths, and many other delicious varieties of apples.

I discovered the other day that I had a little jar of apple butter hiding in my pantry. It was the last of several I had gotten from a friend of mine. There was also a set of pastry bags/decorator tips that my sister gave me that had not been used yet. In that set was a bismarck tip (used for filling). I had been wanting donuts. All of those together led to the birth of the apple butter donut hole.

Although I’ve lived most of my life in the homeland of the yeasted Krispy Kreme Doughnut, my donut loyalty will always lie with the heavier cake donuts of my early childhood. Naturally, I thought of the lovely sugar covered mini donuts from the even lovelier Cara of Fork and Beans. She kindly granted me permission to repost with my changes.

The only change I made in the dough itself was I switched to canola from coconut oil. I figured why waste the more expensive coconut oil if I was just going to turn around and fry it in canola anyway.

While these are technically “filled” and not stuffed, I hope their sugary goodness will convince you that they belong in the Stuff, Wrap and Roll series. If not, just ignore me. I’ll be in the corner polishing them off.

Apple Butter Donut Holes

Apple Butter Donut Holes

(makes 16)

For Donuts:

    • 1/2 c. sorghum flour
    • 1/2 c. Brown rice flour
    • 1/4 c. potato starch (not flour!)
    • 1/4 c. arrowroot powder
    • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1/2 c. brown sugar
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
    • 1/2 c. buttermilk (1/2 Tb apple cider vinegar + 1/2 c. almond milk)
    • 1 1/2 tsp Ener-G egg replacer + 2 Tbs warm water, mixed til frothy
    • 1/4 c. canola oil + more for frying
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For Filling:

    • 1/2 cup (+/-) apple butter

For Topping

  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used organic evaporated cane juice)
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon


  1. Mix dry ingredients for donuts together until fully combined.
  2. Make a well in the center of the bowl. Add all the remainder of wet ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until just incorporated.
  3. Roll into 16 equal sized balls
  4. Heat about 1/2″ to 3/4″ oil in a large skillet to medium high heat (about 375F if you’re checking the temp)
  5. In small batches, fry donut holes until golden brown. Since that’s not enough oil to completely cover them, they’ll need to be turned halfway through. Total cooking time is about 2-2½ minutes.
  6. Remove from skillet and put on paper towel lined plate.
  7. After all donuts have been cooked and are cooled enough to handle, using a pastry bag with the apple butter in it and a bismarck tip (filling tip, I used Wilton 230), put a hole in one side of the donut and squeeze apple butter into the donut until it starts to come back out of the hole. I found this easier if I put the donut hole down on a plate. When it is properly filled, you will see the donut hole become a bit larger and will also probably see tiny oil droplets being pushed out of the sides of the donut. Wipe off any excess apple butter from the outside of the donut hole.
  8. After all have been filled, fill a large zipper bag with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbsp cinnamon. Shake to mix. Then working in batches of 3 or 4, shake donut holes in the cinnamon-sugar mixture until well coated. Place on a plate and serve. Or eat them straight out of the bag 😉

Note: My apple butter was homemade and possibly not as thick as some store bought ones. If your apple butter is too thick to go through the tip easily, I suspect adding a bit of apple juice or water would take care of that.

Reality check: This was my first time filling any kind of baked goods. So they weren’t all as full as the one cut open in the picture. Some had more. Some had almost none. That one was about average. There’s a learning curve. Be patient with yourself :)

On this, the 239th anniversary of your birth, I appreciate you, Johnny Appleseed.

Happy Birthday, Johnny Appleseed




  13 comments for “Happy Birthday, John Chapman: Apple Butter Donut Holes

  1. September 26, 2013 at 7:55 am

    These looks amazing! Filled donuts. With apples and cinnamon. And they´re glutenfree. I think I love you 😛

    • drsimpson
      September 26, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      <3 Apples and cinnamon are the perfect way for me to bring in fall!

  2. September 26, 2013 at 9:21 am

    GF donut holes – oh you are so clever! And I liked the history lesson, too!

    I am going to have to make these on the weekend, I need donuts, stat!

    • drsimpson
      September 26, 2013 at 3:28 pm

      I hope you like them as much as we did! Let me know how you go with them.

  3. September 26, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Okay, you are too cute! I love the lesson on John Chapman (happy birthday!) And those donut holes are to die for. I love the filing inside…i think i need them for breakfast now…

    • drsimpson
      September 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm

      Funny – when you were commenting here, I was over on your blog. Our ESP is working :)

  4. September 27, 2013 at 2:01 am

    WOW! You just never stop amazing me with your posts! I am seriously drooling! I didn’t really like donuts as a kid (I know, strange- huh?), my Mom had to bribe me to go to for donuts (and for ice cream). Yeah, I know I was a weird kid. However, when we go to the counter at the donut shop, I always went for the cake-like donuts too! This will HAVE to be made very soon!

  5. September 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    These look delicious, and seasonal! Perfect :)

  6. June 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I’m dieting right now and this post is killing me!!!!

  7. drsimpson
    August 26, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I have no idea why the link to Cara’s blog has a strikethrough. And I can’t figure out how to get rid of it!. oops…technical difficulties.

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