Daring Bakers: Saffron and Cardamom Doughnuts with Pistachios

Saffron Cardamom Doughnuts (009) by Meeta K. Wolff  

Frying and me – well we are not such good friends. Don’t get me wrong I find fried foods tantalizing and utterly delicious, but I also know that after indulging in fried foods, I not only feel guilty but also – greasy!  

So I rarely fry at home. But when I do it has to be for a good cause. This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was definitely a good cause. Doughnuts! Another sinful treat I do not often indulge in. When I do, I bake them to at least try and make them less – evil!

John F. Kennedy probably did not realize, standing on the pulpit at the Berlin Wall back in June 1963, that when he said “Ich bin ein Berliner!” he was in actual fact saying “I am a jam doughnut!”

A Berliner pfannkuchen is a typical German doughnut made from a sweet yeast dough, fried in fat or oil and filled with a marmalade or jam and then dusted with some icing sugar. Bakeries in Germany nowadays offer them filled with all sorts of delightful fillings. Chocolate, flavored pastry creams, custards or my favorite advocaat cream are exquisite examples of the temptations that await me at bakeries here. So in a way I can understand why Mr. Kennedy might have been so distracted by these doughnuts.

Yes I do know that it is a common misconception that Mr. Kennedy was calling himself a jam doughnut, when in actual fact he was perfectly right. By deleting the article "ein" would have stated that he is a resident of Berlin. Since Kennedy was not saying that he was actually from Berlin but instead declaring solidarity with the citizens, "Ich bin ein Berliner" was perfectly acceptable.

I just like the urban legend better and thought I’d share it with you for a little laugh. ;o)

Saffron Cardamom Doughnuts (003) by Meeta K. Wolff

For this month’s Daring Bakers challenge I decided to indulge in the evil sin and fry the doughnuts. Lovely Lori of Butter Me Up was our wonderful hostess this month and she provided several recipes for doughnuts for us to choose from. There was a sweet yeast dough recipe, cake dough, bomboloni (or as we say here in Germany, Berliner) and a pumpkin doughnut recipe fitting the time of year. As I usually make doughnuts using a favorite cake dough recipe I decided to tackle the yeast dough for the challenge.

Playing with flavor ideas I wanted to try an unconventional combination for doughnuts and I reached for my favorite two spices from my spice cabinet – saffron and cardamom

Saffron Cardamom Doughnuts (0014) by Meeta K. Wolff

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Yeast doughnuts take slighter longer to make, but the reward is a fluffy and airy doughnut that really is wonderfully moist and have an extraordinary chewy bite. I kept very much to the recipe provided by Lori, incorporating saffron and cardamom into the dough. I kneaded the dough with my hands – 45 minutes long – but had the most wonderful and pliable dough to work with. Finally while some of them were dusted with sprinkling of powdered sugar, others were drenched in a syrupy powdered sugar maple glaze with a sprinkling of pistachio nuts.

Saffron Cardamom Doughnuts with Pistachio

Printable version of recipe here

Yeast Doughnuts:

Preparation time:
Hands on prep time - 25 minutes
Rising time - 1.5 hours total
Cooking time - 12 minutes

Yield: 20 to 25 doughnuts & 20 to 25 doughnut holes, depending on size


360 ml milk
70 g butter 
14 g active dry yeast (2 pkgs.)
80 ml warm water (95°F to 105°F / 35°C to 41°C)
2 large eggs, beaten
55 g white granulated sugar 
1.5 teaspoon table salt 
1 teaspoon cardamom, ground
1/2 teaspoon saffron strands, crushed
650 g all purpose flour + extra for dusting surface
Canola Oil DEPENDS on size of vessel you are frying in – you want THREE (3) inches of oil (can substitute any flavorless oil used for frying)

Powdered Sugar Maple Glaze
480 g powdered (Icing) sugar 
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons milk

Pistachios, finely chopped
Additional powdered sugar for dusting


  1. Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat just until warm enough to melt the butter. (Make sure the butter is melted so that it incorporates well into the batter.) Add the crushed saffron strands and let steep.

  2. Place the butter in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. It should get foamy. After 5 minutes, pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and butter mixture, first making sure the milk-saffron and butter mixture has cooled to lukewarm.

  4. Add the eggs, sugar, salt, cardamom, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment of your mixer (if you have one), combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. 

  5. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well.

  6. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes (for me this only took about two minutes). If you do not have a dough hook/stand mixer – knead until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
  7. I decided to use my hands and knead the dough. It is very sticky to start with but the more you knead the more the dough comes together into a lovely, shiny and smooth ball.
  8. Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

  9. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 3/8-inch (9 mm)thick. (Make sure the surface really is well-floured otherwise your doughnuts will stick to the counter).

  10. Cut out dough using a 2 1/2-inch (65 mm) doughnut cutter or pastry ring or drinking glass and using a 7/8-inch (22 mm) ring for the center whole. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

  11. Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 °F/185°C.

  12. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side or until golden brown (my doughnuts only took about 30 seconds on each side at this temperature).

  13. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.
Powdered Sugar Maple Glaze
  1. Whisk powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and 2 tablespoons milk to blend. Whisk to a medium thick glaze.

  2. Can be made up to 3 hours ahead.

  3. Add doughnut holes to bowl of powdered sugar and toss to coat. Dust some doughnuts with powdered sugar.

  4. Spread doughnuts on 1 side with powdered sugar maple glaze and sprinkle with pistachios.

  5. Arrange doughnuts, glazed side up, on racks. Let stand until glaze sets, at least 30 minutes.



Saffron Cardamom Doughnuts (017) by Meeta K. Wolff 

What can I say? I know why I do not make doughnuts too often. Lucky enough the weekend was filled with good friends and fun times and I was able to share these with them. The dough had a gorgeous sunny vibrant yellow from the saffron and a delicious aroma of cardamom. A different flavor for a trusted pastry that was received really well with my German friends. I love surprising them with Indian flavors fused into something they know so well.

Thank you Lori for a great fun challenge this month!

Plate to Page Workshop

We’ve had an overwhelming response to the Plate to Page workshop we announced earlier this week. I thank everyone of you who emailed, tweeted and spread the word.

Just a quick note: if you really want to join us then register yourself soon – we’ve had a big rush on the places and there are only a couple left. Registrations have come in from Cape Town, Canada, USA, Italy, UK and Holland and we are so blown away by it.

We plan to provide you with a fresh new concept and trust me you will be working hard throughout the weekend. But we’ve set aside some time for play and fun too. ;o)


You might like these sinful treats from WFLH:

Croquembouche with a Pistachio Rosewater Pastry Cream Cannoli with Gianduja Cream and Lemon Goat Cheese Cream Fudge Pralines with Cardamom and Chocolate


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2010 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

Continue »


  1. Hi Meeta,

    I would love to join, but do u accept applications from a blogger who is in hibernation right now?

  2. They look wonderful and I love the flavour combination. Sophisticated enough for a stylish dessert.

  3. Meeta, darling, these donuts are amazing! I hate frying but I might make an exception in this case :)
    I'm already looking fwd to "From plate to page"!!

  4. This was definitely a good reason to deep fry!! Love the Cardamom flavor you've added!!! Beautiful as always!!!

  5. Argh, I'm an absolute sucker for doughnuts, and adding cardamome in them sounds just divine! x

  6. I can see you have used your favourite pasitachios here. Looks really beautiful and delicous.

  7. Pistachio, Cardamom and Saffron.The best things put in one sinful treat! Gorgeous!

  8. They're gorgeous, Meeta.
    Guess what? I put saffron and cardamom in mine too. :) Just never thought about the pistachios!

    Btw, Would have made it to Weimar for the workshop if only you were closer to where I am. :)

  9. Gorgeous doughnuts! A fabulous treat with all those yummy flavors!

  10. Frying and me are also not the best of pals, but you and me are, so may I have one of these my lovely! Fabulous in every frame, and flavours that make my heart sing! Congrats on 'From Page to Plate'. Love the name and hopefully one day will be there, mainly for the fun and play!! Don't think I'll get there this year...sigh!

  11. Delicious spice combination. I bet the pistachios give them a nice crunch too. Nice idea.

  12. The doughnuts are beautiful, but I'm partial to the doughnut holes. Save me some?

  13. I have no such qualms about deep-frying (I like smelling like eau de chip oil ;P) but I've never made doughnuts with pistachios! Delicious AND super pretty. I just made a pasta with pistachios in it and I love the vivid green.

  14. aha!! here are the donuts! lovely :)))saffron and cardamom add such warmth visually and to the palate, I know these little sweet balls would have been awesome!!!

    Great work on the P2P workshop! Hope you are booked FULL soon! :))

  15. Delicious looking doughnuts, Meeta!! Love the pistas on them.

  16. I've been seeing doughnuts all over blogs lately, but these are by far some of the most creative, delicious-looking I've seen. I love the idea of saffron and cardamom on doughnuts!


  17. Superb! Those are original and delightful doughnuts flavors.



  18. want some of those little munchkins. Beautiful flavors.

  19. Your donuts look so delicious Meeta!! And you're right; the frying part is not my favorite either if only For the reason that i am trying to watch the calories but this was so worth it!!

  20. I love the flavours you have incorporated here Meeta! Saffron and cardamom are a perfect marriage and I think you've sent them on a perfect honeymoon with this donut recipe! Yummm!

  21. I'm SO glad to see you fried up the donut holes too because I honestly like donut holes more than donuts! I always used to only buy the holes! heheh.. smaller, you get more :)

  22. These is fantastically delicious! Love the doughnut especially the pistachios=)

  23. Wow, they look lovely, I admire you for giving doughnuts a go, I've never quite gotten round to it although I just might after seeing yours :)

  24. OMG, those look fantastic! Frying and me aren't friends either (I think the only thing I have ever deep-fried was a Mars bar - for a blog event of course!) but I love the look of these - and those are some of my favourite flavours too (of course!)

  25. always have a thing for doughnuts, they looks great

  26. Meeta, these are the most elegant looking donuts I have ever seen! Talk about indulging in exquisite flavors of Saffron, Cardamom & Pistachios!

  27. Your doughnuts are gorgeous! I used cardamom too, but filled them with plum jam, making a Berliner, I guess. Wish I had thought of your other ingredients as they sound scrumptious.

  28. What great combination of flavors. I decided to do the yeast version and simply with cinnamon and sugar. Next time i will probably try the baked version.

  29. Thank you all so much for all your feedback and comments. I guess frying once in a while for such a good cause is acceptable. The flavors here were totally sublime and sensational. Hope you come back & tell me what you thought.

  30. Stunning photos as always Meeta! They look so adorable and delicious!!

  31. I really like doughnuts and this one looks so inviting. A very good treat for my kids!Making them soon! Thanks=)

  32. Oh my gosh! Your donuts sound amazing, and look perfect! I'll take a dozen! :)

  33. I am not a great fan of fried food either...Though i love them enough ,I cant risk my life with them..However this is something of a must try...I will...

  34. wow perfect donuts! Love the addition of pistachios!

  35. Hey Meeta
    These look amazing. Have never made donuts before (for good reason!) but may have to try them now. Congrats on all the success of your workshop. Wish I could be there. Maybe next time. Also love the JFK story! Hx

  36. Oh man they look fantastic - I share your reluctance to fry though, especially with deep fat, it terrifies me!

  37. You kneaded the dough by hand for 45 minutes?! Your upper arms will never turn into bingo wings at that rate! I should think you burnt off enough calories to eat ALL those delicious-looking doughnuts.

  38. I'm not a great fan of saffron but this looks delicious, especially because it has pistachios in it (and that's one of my favorite ingredients). Will try this!

  39. Meeta : I made doughnuts today was wanting to try ur glaze and u have mentioned 480ml of icing sugar? u meant 480 gms?


Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.