My sweet tooth is pretty intense– I really think there will be a special table in heaven covered in pies of all colors & flavors for constant snacking like at your family Christmas reunion. Only in heaven, you never worry about eating too much because the ingredients are actually holy, so you never feel sick from sugar, & it’s just one big dessert dream. I believe this will be part of heaven for people like me. With all of that being said, donuts have never been at the center of my dessert heart. If I was going to choose one, it would be blueberry cake donuts, but I’d much rather have something else made of flour, butter, & sugar. And with THAT being said, I have still wanted to make Joanna Gaines’ Syrian donut recipe since I bought this book two years ago. Baking is fun in general, & I’ve never baked donuts so I was intrigued. All the donut recipes I’ve looked at before (I haven’t looked at that many, now that I think about it) require a donut pan or deep frying. I’ve attempted maybe two paleo donut recipes before, & my kids turned their noses up at my hard work, & I don’t know that my ego has fully recovered. See, even my kids are teaching me to not be codependent on other people’s opinions. Thanks so much, children. You are the true refining heroes of this story. 

These are not your typical American donut. They are smaller (I mean, I guess you can make them whatever size you want), & they are more dense. These are spiced & have finely chopped nuts. If Queen Elizabeth eats donuts with her Earl Grey tea, I feel like these might be it.

I decided to make these donuts because I knew I would like them. That’s it. I hoped my kids would, but if they didn’t, we could at least have fun making them together, & then I will enjoy dipping them into my match tea every Saturday for the next four months (because these donuts freeze well!).

It turned out the husband thoroughly enjoyed dipping these into his coffee, & two of my three kids loved them, too. The third kid is beyond food help. That’s all I can say.

SYRIAN DONUTS courtesy of Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Table


8 C all purpose flour

2 C sugar

2-3 tsp ground aniseed (I found it whole & used a coffee grinder to grind)

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp salt

3 large eggs

1/2 C finely chopped walnuts

1/2 C finely chopped pecans

2 sticks salted butter

1 1/2 C milk

2 1/4 ounce packets active dry yeast


2 C sugar

1/4 C milk

1/2 stick salted butter

1 tsp vanilla extract


  1. In a large bowl, whisk flour, all of your sugar except 1 T, aniseed, cinnamon, & salt.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Add nuts. Pour mixture into flour mixture & stir. Mixture will be dry (so much flour!)
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add milk & remaining 1 T sugar. Heat until warm (115 degrees) & then remove from heat. (I actually let my mixture cool for a few minutes because it got pretty hot.) Stir in yeast & let sit for about five minutes until foamy.
  4. Add liquid to flour mixture & mix– I used my hands, but if you’re not about that life, use a spoon. Mix until the dough isn’t sticking to your hands or spoon. The dough will be heavy & dense.
  5. Cover with a kitchen towel & let sit in a warm area for two hours. (I put my bowl in the microwave with a hot cup of water. I don’t know if this helps or not, but it makes me feel like I’m babying my dough, so I’ll keep doing it.)
  6. Position an oven rack in top third of the oven & preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Lightly flour your clean surface (I forgot this step & it was fine…but probably still a good decision.) Take a golf ball size piece of dough & roll it into a 6 inch cigar (I told my kids stick because I was already trying to teach them how to make donuts & didn’t feel like also teaching them about smoking habits.)
  8. Place your donuts on your lined baking sheet 1 inch apart & bake for 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough– I think I went through four rounds.
  9. While your first set is in the oven, make the syrup. Combine ingredients PLUS 1 C of water. Bring to a boil & then simmer for 7-10 minutes.
  10. Line a baking sheet or a section of counter space with wax paper. Dip each warm donut on both sides into the syrup & then lay on wax paper to dry. (I used coconut sugar because that’s what I had. My glaze was a light color but not clear or as “flaky” like her traditional glaze.)
  11. Store in an air tight container for up to 2 days. You can also store in the freezer for a future treat!


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