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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Chocolate Cake Doughnuts (Almost) Like Dunford Used To Make

I don’t normally “celebrate” National Doughnut Day because, well, it’s sort of silly, right? BUT…this past June 7 I kept seeing Facebook status updates and Instagram photos of people eating lots and lots of doughnuts and, wouldn’t you know it, I found myself wanting doughnuts! The house we were living in at the time was nowhere near a decent doughnut shop, plus dragging all the kids in and out of the car seemed like too much work. So, I hit the computer and started looking for recipes.

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

You need to know two other things leading up to today’s recipe.

1) Dan’s grocery stores in Utah used to carry Dunford’s Chocolate Cake Donuts. The latest I heard is that Dan’s no longer carries the donuts and that they are impossible to find (Update: Harmon’s apparently sells them and the Dunford’s in South Jordan is still around). Dunford’s were the greatest chocolate cake donuts of all time. I have never had a chocolate cake donut that compares. I am on a constant quest to find a Dunford’s replacement and I am constantly disappointed.

2) A doughnut is not a doughnut if it is not fried. Yes, there are a lot of good recipes for “baked doughnuts” out there but, if you ask me, they’re basically muffins in a doughnut shape. They aren’t really  doughnuts.

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

With these two thoughts in mind, I decided that since I can’t buy Dunford’s donuts I was going to have to make them. I read through a lot of recipes and finally decided to use a Chocolate Cake Doughnut recipe from Sunset Magazine.

I made a few batches and the final final product was MIGHTY FINE. Still no Dunford’s, but close! And they were better than any other store-bought chocolate cake doughnuts I’ve had, so this recipe was a winner!

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

Chocolate Cake Doughnuts (Almost) Like Dunford Used To Make
From Sunset Magazine, but I changed a few things up based on my experience with the recipe
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • ⅓ cup buttermilk
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • Chocolate Doughnut Frosting (See recipe below)
  1. In a bowl, mix flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, sugar, buttermilk, and melted butter to blend. Stir into dry ingredients until well blended. Chill until cold, at least 1 hour or up to 3 hours.
  2. Scrape dough onto a generously floured surface.
  3. If you have a doughnut cutter: With floured hands, pat dough out to about ½ inch thick. With a 3-inch doughnut cutter, cut out doughnuts. Pat together scraps of dough and cut again.
  4. If you do not have a doughnut cutter, this is what I did and it worked wonderfully: Roll dough out into a rectangle that is about 5 inches wide and ½-inch thick. Cut into strips about 1 inch wide (so you end up with pieces 1”³ wide and 5”³ long). Shape the strips into circles. With a little bit of water wet the ends with your fingertips and then seal the ends. Trust me, it actually works really well and made about 16 doughnuts.
  5. Place doughnuts on a well-floured baking sheet or back on your floured surface.
  6. Add about 4 inches of oil into a 5- to 6-quart pan; heat to 375° (I have an instant read thermometer that I use throughout the entire cooking process – it’s important!). Place one doughnut at a time onto a wide spatula and gently slide into oil, frying three at a time. Cook, turning once, until puffy and cooked through. The original recipe says to cook 3 to 4 minutes total, but that was WAY too long. I cooked each donut 1 minute per side and that was perfect – cooked through completely but also not burned or dried out. With a slotted spoon, transfer doughnuts to paper towels to drain. Test temperature of oil, reheat to 375 if needed. Repeat process to fry remaining doughnuts.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack. Dip top half of each doughnut in the chocolate frosting and place back on wire rack to set for about 5 minutes (or longer).
Chocolate Doughnut Frosting
Sunset’s recipe was more of a glaze, I changed mine to match the Dunford’s frosting more
  • 6 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons corn syrup
  • Powdered sugar (amount TBD)
  1. In a heatproof bowl, combine semisweet chocolate, whipping cream, butter and corn syrup. Place bowl over simmering water, stirring occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from heat and add powdered sugar until the frosting thickens but is still of a consistency where you can dip the doughnuts into the frosting.

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |
homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

homemade chocolate cake doughnuts |

These doughnuts come Owen Approved!


  1. 1

    You can still get Dunford donuts in Utah. They sell them at Harmons and there is a Dunford bakery in South Jordan, and I assume some other places too.

  2. 2

    Oh how I love Dunfords! I ate a choc. cake doughnut every single weekday morning of my last trimester of my first pregnancy!! I still crave those things! Pretty much every gas station in Utah sells them still

    • Jane Maynard

      it’s a good thing I was never pregnant and living in utah at the same time! sounds like a good third trimester plan! 😉

  3. 3

    Two things. One: OWEN IS SO CUTE. Two: I really love how detailed your recipe narratives are when needed. I love recipes that really explain what is going on.

  4. 4

    Oh my! I have never made doughnuts but I think I might have to try this recipe. Looks delicious!!!

  5. 5

    The Dunford’s were distant relatives of mine. But, I live in Virginia and I can’t get their outrageous chocolate donuts – my absolute fave – out here anywhere! My mother still flies to Utah once a year to visit family and freezes a bunch and brings them back to me. Now, I can’t wait to try out your recipe! Maybe I can fill that craving more than once a year! – although, I’ll have to take up running or something like that 🙂

  6. 7

    That face says it all!!!

  7. I’ve never heard of Dunford’s Chocolate Cake Donuts. But those do look wonderful!

  8. Holy smokes these sound and look good! I <3 chocolate cake doughnuts, so much that I might actually trying frying for the first time in my life (yes, I'm 41 and have never fried anything LOL).

    • Jane Maynard

      that is hilarious that you’ve never fried anything! haha! love it, amanda. give it a try! donuts are definitely good virgin frying territory to embark on! 😉

  9. Just look at that sweet little chocolate covered face!! And those doughnuts, yum!

  10. Oh my word! These look so delicious! And apparently Owen agrees 🙂 What a precious little chocolate covered face.

  11. 12

    You can get these at almost all 7-11’s in salt lake. Thanks for the recipe though, sometimes you just want more than one!

  12. My family loves Dunford donuts so much that we call them “Dunford done-dones.” I had them at my wedding. 😀

    My dad randomly shipped me one in a cute little box last year, but this year I’ll have to try your recipe since I’m much further away (in China). Hopefully I can figure out a good way to replace corn syrup. Thanks!

    • Jane Maynard

      I love that you had them at your wedding! 🙂

      good luck making them in china – let me know how it goes!

  13. 14

    Do you think it would be okay to bake them instead of frying? If so, what would you recommend as the bake temperature and time?

    • so, this recipe is a fried donut recipe and is really meant for frying. there are tons of baked donut recipes out there, I would maybe look for another because I have no idea how the dough would do with baking. but if you do want to try it out, then I would go with 350 degrees and as for time, I have no clue! I would start checking at 10 minutes and then maybe every few minutes after that. don’t know if this is super helpful! 😉

  14. 15

    I live not to far from the Dunford shop. I recently went on a tour of the “Bakery”. A large part is dedicated to breads. The Donut side is quite impressive. They are a cake based donut, which are extruded from a mold. (Pushed out) into the fryer. The fryer flips them, once they come out, they ice them hot. Er, pour the chocolate on when hot. They then go on a long journey to cool off. Then down to packaging.

    This recipe is pretty good. I rolled the donuts and formed into shape. I fried in crisco. Hydrogenated oil is better for donuts – so the internet says. I don’t have a fryer, I used a dutch oven and tongs. I could not keep the donuts in shape when I flipped them. So they turned out horrible as my 5yo says. They tasted good, the parts that were not over cooked. The icing I used 1/4 c butter. 1/4 c cocoa, vanilla, powdered sugar, 2-3 c, and hot water. The hot water helps it become fudgey.

    Thanks for developing this recipe.

    • oh, that tour sounds SO FUN! thank you so much for the input in how they make the donuts, that is invaluable information!!!! may have to do some recipe tweaking! 🙂

      I wonder why your donuts wouldn’t keep the shape when flipped – that is so weird! maybe they didn’t cook long enough, although they cook pretty quickly you don’t want to burn them. it sounds like some of yours were overcooked. it really is amazing how fast they cook- my first batch all had overcooked portions, but once I got the hang of it my second batch was perfect. anyway, I do not know why they wouldn’t keep shape for you, wish I had some insight!

      thanks for the info on your frosting, too! I really appreciate your comment so much!! 🙂

  15. 16

    I am so glad I found your post. My husband was just bemoaning a lack of Dunford’s doughnuts as we headed out of Utah on our way home. Believe me, over the years we have gone to extraordinary lengths to get some. Now I can make some – thank you and woohoo!

  16. 17
    Susan serna

    Oh, my fam stopped at a sev (7 Eleven) in SLC before heading to the airport and to LAX. Bought them out of our beloved “Utah donuts” – technically Devils food fried donut with chocolate fudge frosting (made previously by Salt Lake Donut Co on So State Street and now by Dunford bakery) and omgosh – close enough! To die for!!! People in SoCal (lucky enough to score one) can’t believe how great they are.

  17. 18

    I wanted to provide further insight to anyone hoping to re-create these dunford-style donuts. The frying method did not work for me. In order to pull them out of the fryer in one piece, I had to burn them. They looked like jagged-rock poops (HA! It’s true)…

    I ended up rolling the other half of the dough into donut holes and baked them at 350 for about 10-11 minutes on a parchment lined baking sheet. It was a much better texture, and healthier, too! I also followed the commentor above and used their recipe for a fudge-like frosting.

    Overall, this is not a dupe for the dunford recipe, but if you end up baking them, it will yield a more cakey type cookie.

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