There’s a secret behind this doughnut recipe — it has to do with the color. These vanilla doughnuts get their pink color not from raspberries or strawberries, as you might expect.
When you make these sweet doughnuts, you’ll learn how to naturally dye these vanilla bean baked doughnuts with a hint of pink in both the dough and the cream cheese frosting. The doughnuts are also gluten-free and have a soft and cakey texture.
The natural dye comes from beets!
I am not a fan of beets at all. The smell alone is enough to do me in. However, in these doughnuts the beet flavor is masked by the vanilla bean goodness and cream cheese frosting.
All you have to do is puree a can of beets in your blender. Look at that hot pink! Can you even believe your eyes?
It’s pretty amazing that you can get such intense color from vegetable. It almost makes me want to serve these without any frosting!
Because the pink color looks so awesome, I decided to add a little bit of the beet puree to the frosting. It turned a lovely shade of light pink and perfect to give to your loved one this Valentine’s Day — or any day, really!
Vanilla bean baked doughnuts with pink cream cheese frosting
Yields approximately 10 standard doughnuts (using a standard 6-mold donut pan)
For the doughnuts:
- ½ cup pure cane sugar
- ½ cup gluten-free oat flour
- 6 tablespoons blanched almond flour
- 6 tablespoons sweet rice flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup beet puree (divided)
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla beans (scraped from 1-2 pods)
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil (or other baking oil)
For the beet puree:
- 1 can beets (drained)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons milk (if needed)
For the frosting:
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoons beet puree
- First, make the beet puree. Place beets and lemon juice in your blender or food processor and turn on until fully pureed. You want it to be about the texture of applesauce. If needed, add a small amount of milk to help it move in the blender. Set aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease two donut pans heavily with softened butter or coconut oil.
- In a large bowl, stir together the oat flour, almond flour, sweet rice flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Then whisk in the 3 tablespoons of beet puree, the milk, vanilla extract and vanilla beans. Whisk in the oil, then pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until combined.
- Pour evenly into the donut pan molds about ¼” from the top. Drizzle about 1½” teaspoons of beet puree over each donut. Drag a knife lightly through each donut to swirl into the batter.
- Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then slide a knife or thin flexible spatula around each donut and remove from the pan. Place on a cooling rack and allow to fully cool.
- While the doughnuts bake, beat the cream cheese and butter together in a mixing bowl until creamy. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy and smooth. Beat in the vanilla and beet puree, starting with 1 tablespoon of puree. Add more for a darker pink color. Place in a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Once doughnuts are fully cooled spread a thick layer of frosting on each. Serve once frosted.
The frosting is softer than a typical buttercream or cream cheese frosting. Frost just before serving.
Do not substitute any of the flours and be sure you are using sweet rice flour and not white or brown rice flour, as they do vary. Check online, at health food stores, or in Asian markets to find sweet rice flour. It’s easiest to find and cheapest at the Asian markets and is commonly labeled “glutinous rice flour.”
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Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and was updated in January 2018.