Baked Donut Puffs

Baked Donut Puffs a.k.a. Upper East Side Puffs When I lived on the upper east side of New York, there was a fantastic bakery that my sister and I used to go 3-4 times a week. Everything was baked from scratch and everything tasted wonderfully homemade.

Zucchini bread with bright green ribbons of the vegetable, thick cut apples and walnuts in the apple muffin, whoopie pies worth mooning over, etc. As a cook myself, I loved the set-up as much as the product. It was an open commissary kitchen for several restaurants with a walk-up counter for ordering. As you waited in line, you could watch the bakers make cakes, and pies and all manner of homespun baked goods. Among the array of deliciousness displayed on the counter, there was one very small item that looked like a mini muffin coated in cinnamon and sugar. The texture of the crumb inside was light and fluffy, more cake than muffin and it had the telltale cinnamon flavor and a pop of nutmeg as well. It was called a “puff,” or at least that is what my sister and I called it. A puff with a double-shot cappuccino was morning heaven! My sister moved out the neighborhood years before I did, and I have now been gone 3 years. And, it has been three years that I have been trying to re-create those puffs. A Google search brought up dozens of images for what resembled the mini bites of heaven, but it was amazing how much the actual recipes varied. I tried many recipes for baked donuts, cinnamon bites, and cinnamon puffs. And, although all of them were good, none of them were as good as the memory of my “Upper East Side Puff.” Finally, I hit upon a recipe with more sugar and more milk making a thinner, more cake-like batter. The other advantage of the sweeter lighter cake is that they will last up to three days in an airtight container. I decided to try the recipe out on my sister’s boys and it as a hit! So much so, that my 14-year old nephew asked me to give him the recipe so he could make them. That has to be the ultimate compliment! Once you try these baked donut puffs, I guarantee that they will replace your fried donut craving, but give you a new one!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, preferably fresh ground
  • ½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt into a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, butter and vanilla. Add wet mixture to dry and stir a little at a time until combined.
  3. Spoon the batter into prepared mini muffin tins or regular muffin tins—I use Baker’s Joy. The easiest way to do this is by transferring the batter (which is fairly thin) to a liquid measuring cup and pouring into tin.
  4. Bake for 16-18 minutes for minis, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean. The tops of the muffins will look dry and a little nuby.
  5. Meanwhile, melt butter and place in a shallow bowl.
  6. In a second shallow bowl, mix sugar, cinnamon and salt together.
  7. When “puffs” are done, remove from tin after about 2-3 minutes and place on cooling rack. Let cool on the rack for about 2-3 minutes before dipping and topping. While the muffins are still warm, dip the top in melted butter and swirl in cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  8. Place muffin back on cooling rack to cool. Eat when cool and place any leftovers in an airtight container.
  9. They will keep for 3 days.


Notes Makes about 33 minis

Elizabeth Karmel