black and white donuts + behind the scenes of a blog post!

Happy Tuesday, friends! Today I’m taking you behind the scenes of a blog post because behind the scenes stuff has always fascinated me and also because sometimes I get asked what a typical work day is like and by the time I’m finished explaining my answer I’ve usually lost whoever I’m talking to because it takes too long. My days are always different, one day I might be watching TV all day and making cake, other days I might be lying on the floor with all of my cookbooks open, reading about chicken. Ideally I’m wearing sweatpants but sometimes I brush my hair and put on lip gloss and we will get into when and why. Even though each individual day is different, the arc of creating a blog post, which typically happens over the course of a few weeks or months, is generally the same and fun though! So hold onto your butts because we’re about to get detailed. 

I’m partnering with Intel® on this post because their new Intel NUC Mini PC has helped me streamline the blog post writing process and make it even more fun and organized. 

Phase 1: brainstorming and research. I keep a list on my phone of recipes I want to make and add to it often. These are recipes that are inspired by my heritages, my travels, things I’ve learned about around town (like Funeral Hotdish!!), upcoming holidays, seasons, nostalgic food I grew up with, new ingredients, things I see on Instagram, and things I’m just really gosh darn craving. I schedule them out for blog posts based on what makes sense for upcoming holidays and seasons, and if there’s a recipe I want to make but there are already a million recipes for it on the internet and I don’t feel like I have anything to add to the world of, say, pumpkin blondies, I get rid of it.

When I commit to a recipe, I have a brainstorming session of what the outcome should be. It looks like me sitting on the couch, meditating on the theme of… well in this case, the donut. I think about how it should taste, what it should look like, ideally how it should be made, and, importantly, why I’m evening daring to take up space on the internet about it. Each recipe should serve a purpose, whether it’s to share a new idea or new-to-me ingredient or technique, tell a story, create a new design, or put my spin on an already existing idea. 

In the case of these black and white donuts, I’d never seen a black and white donut before and they sounded tasty and cute looking, so that’s the purpose! In terms of flavor, they should reflect the black and white cookie, which is cakey and flavored with vanilla and lemon, maybe a tiny bit of almond, and has a light tang thanks to either buttermilk or sour cream in the batter. The glaze should be thick and it should dry nicely, providing a sweet delicious shell.

Also coinciding with this brainstorming session is a research phase where I read all about black and white cookies and their history, as many recipes for them as I can find, I look at the #blackandwhitecookie hashtag to get design inspiration, and basically try and do everything short of rewatching the entirety of Seinfeld in order to find the black and white cookie mentions, because at that point that’s safely considered *getting sidetracked*. 

Basically I become one with the black and white cookie/donut. 

And then I write a first draft of a recipe, buy any necessary groceries, and start the best part, phase 2: making stuff!

What used to be constant battles of Molly versus the missing/oil-stained post-it note with all of the recipe scribbles or Molly versus counter space versus a laptop that’s balanced on top of the flour canister is now a streamlined system of pulling up the recipe on my TV screen, which is hooked up to the NUC Mini PC. (You’ve rarely seen my TV screen because I always hide it when my photographers, Chantell and Brett, come to photograph recipes! But it’s how I stay sane working by myself most days, because I can have Bojack on in the background and then toggle over to my word doc to make recipe notes.)

I make a version of the recipe according to the draft, taste it, record any notes, and then copy and paste a new recipe draft with any recipe changes in bold. And I also bring in backup in the form of Eggboy. He may not know the first thing about making a donut but he is a really good taste tester! He is not afraid of telling me when a recipe sucks and is articulate in telling me what needs to change. And then it’s up to me to figure out how to achieve those changes. So then I get back to work and continue to test until it’s basically so good that Eggboy just doesn’t have any words and continues to take bites because he can’t help it and it’s as if the donut has taken over his brain. It might take 26 versions, it might just take 3 or 4.

This recipe didn’t take too many versions because I already had a vanilla baked donut recipe that I liked (in Molly on the Range) and my primary focus was on sneaking in the lemon flavor and paying close attention to how that added acidity affected the rise of the donuts. I honed in on baking soda amounts and played around with a few different measurements there. I also tried a couple of different methods of glazing the donuts and found that a combination of dipping the donuts into the glaze and using a spatula to help it onto the donuts created my fave aesthetic.

After this testing period, leftovers get wrapped up and given to people or stuck in the freezer. These donuts will get defrosted and put out for beet harvest next week!

Once the recipe is where I want it to be, I move on to phase 3: prepping its photo shoot. I write down any particular steps I want to document, think about what angles will make the finished product look the best, pick out props and a wardrobe that will match everything, clean the kitchen, prep ingredients and complete any steps of the recipe that I won’t be showing on camera. For these donuts, I made some finished donuts, some unglazed donuts, some that just had white glaze on them, and a bowl each of chocolate and vanilla glaze. This prep usually happens the day before a shoot and I typically am prepping a few recipes at a time since shoot days often include a handful of recipes. I often have an assistant help with this but my kitchen assistant, Grace, just moved to Michigan :(

Phase 4: photo shoot! The morning of a shoot, I brush my hair and put on makeup! The first time in probably a while. And then Chantell and Brett arrive from Fargo and we get to work! Shoot days are fun because it’s so satisfying to play with finished recipes and we listen to music or have movies on in the background and at the end of the day I try to send them home with as many donuts and cakes as they’ll allow me to give them. 

Once I receive the photos, I sit on my couch and do phase 5: write the post. This is great because it’s cozy and also because I can have the NUC Mini PC hooked up to the hot tub-sized TV that Eggboy *had* to get last year to watch bike races. It’s great though because it’s big enough to see clearly from my couch and the NUC is powerful enough to deal with tons of photos on a regular basis without slowing down.

By this time I’ve been thinking about whatever my post is about for so long that ideally the words just flow right out. Sometimes—ok a lot of times—they don’t though and that might be when I get up and walk to the refrigerator, eat a piece of cheese, take a shower, or look at my phone. This is when 90% of procrastination happens. It’s gotta happen sometime!

Once the post is written, I organize which photos I’m going to use and how they’ll be laid out, and edit the recipe. Those get put into the backend of my site either by me or my assistant Hillary, along with any tags and links. And then it’s posted!

Ta da!

*Eats a donut*

black and white donuts

makes 12-16 donuts



1 3/4 c (228g) all-purpose flour

1 c (200g) sugar

3/4 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1 large egg

1/2 c (120 ml) buttermilk

1/4 c (50 ml) flavorless oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 c (59 ml) water

Vanilla Glaze

2 1/4 c (270g) powdered sugar

1 tb light corn syrup

3-4 tb whole milk or buttermilk

A pinch of kosher salt

A splash of vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze

2 c (240g) powdered sugar

1/4 c (20g) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tb light corn syrup

3-4 tb whole milk or buttermilk

A pinch of kosher salt


To make the donuts: preheat the oven to 375ºF. Coat a 12-cavity donut pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and zest. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, oil, vanilla, almond extract, and water. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and stir until just combined. Fill a piping bag or ziploc bag with a corner snipped off with the batter and pipe the batter into the donut pans, filling each cavity halfway. If you have any remaining batter, you can bake it in a second batch.

Bake for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool completely. (A mini spatula helps remove them from the pans!)

To make the glazes, first make the vanilla glaze: mix together the sugar, corn syrup, 3 tablespoons of milk, salt, and vanilla. Add additional milk little by little until the mixture is pourable (you might not need the full remaining tablespoon). You want to be careful not to add too much milk because you want the glaze to be thick and opaque, but if the glaze is too thick it will have a hard time sticking to the donuts. You can always make adjustments by adding more powdered sugar to make it thicker or more milk to thin it out. Place a baking sheet or piece of parchment paper underneath the rack with the donuts and dip each donut halfway into the vanilla glaze, scraping off any excess glaze from the bottom and returning to the rack to dry. Let the vanilla glaze dry, 20-30 minutes if you’re impatient like me, but more like an hour or so if you want it to really be nice and solid, and then make the chocolate glaze.

To make the chocolate glaze, use the same method as mixing the vanilla glaze, and then carefully dip the unglazed half of the donuts into the chocolate glaze. With the chocolate side, I find it’s helpful to use a spatula to help the glaze nudge right up against the vanilla. Scrape excess glaze off of the bottom, place back on the rack, and let dry.


These are best the day of, but can be kept for an additional couple of days at room temp in an airtight container.


photos by Chantell and Brett Quernemoen

Thank you, Intel, for sponsoring this post! The Intel NUC Mini PC is a small but mighty computer that is shorter than a tennis ball and ready to make photo editing and content creation a breeze. It’s equipped with Windows 10 and the latest Intel Core processors, and videos and movies can be viewed in 4k Ultra HD!

bagel and lox donuts

are these weirding you out? do you not want to be thinking about fish while you're eating a donut? i just wanted there to be a pescetarian alternative to those cute-as-a-button burger cakes. and another reason to make donuts. because at some point when i was making 12,000 donuts for adult summer camp and watching bojack horseman the whole time, i trained myself to only be able to watch bojack while making donuts, and to *crave* making donuts whenever i watch bojack. it's a vicious cycle but a really relaxing one because no matter how much i feel like i'm losing my marbles in the thick of book stuff and preparing to leave for my tour, it's nice to know that i'll always have my shit together more than bojack. never mind that he's half horse, half man, and completely fictional, just please go with me.

there are three days until i leave for my tour! and in that time i have to: purchase more pairs of jeggings, get my blonde hairs touched up, think about what i am going to say at tuesday's conference panel, remember to pack my bike helmet so that i can use citi bike in ny, and maybe wax my eyebrows. because i do that now. i also have to do some mega tidying up because right before i leave, all of my grand forks and fargo home slices who were in the book are coming over for a night of pizza and tattoos. (btw, did you enter to get some tattoos yet??)

this is a nice squishy baked vanilla donut that's been dipped in a sweet everything bagel topping--basically sub out the garlic and onion for turbinado or thick decorating sugar--and lightly toasted like a bagel. (i was talking about cake toast with steph the other day, how it should be a common thing, don't you think??) then it gets smeared with cream cheese. you can use cream cheese frosting if you'd like, but i think that between the donuts and marzipan, there's enough sweetness to go around. and the toppings are all made out of marzipan: red tomato slices, green lettuce leaves, green capers, purple onions, and salmony salmon which will get the streaks in it if you don't knead the food coloring in completely. the whole thing is fit for a sunday bagel brunch of your sweet tooth dreams!

bagel and lox donuts

makes 12


1 3⁄4 c flour

1 c sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1⁄2 tsp baking soda

3⁄4 tsp kosher salt

1 large egg

1⁄2 c buttermilk

1⁄4 c flavorless oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1⁄4 c water


marzipan kneaded with food coloring for lox, tomatoes, lettuce, capers, onions

poppy seeds, sesame seeds, a pinch of kosher salt, and turbinado or beige decorating sugar

for serving:

2 tb canola oil

cream cheese or cream cheese frosting 


preheat oven to 375ºf. grease two donut pans and set aside.

in a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and whisk to combine. in a separate bowl, combine wet ingredients. add to dry ingredients and mix until batter is smooth.

add batter to donut pan and bake donuts for twelve minutes, until edges begin to turn golden brown. remove from oven and let cool.

shape marzipan. cut into circles for tomatoes, smash into oblong shapes for salmon and lettuce, roll into little balls for capers. to make the onions, just brush a bit of food coloring on the edges.

in a small bowl, combine poppy seeds, sesame seeds, a pinch of kosher salt, and sugar. dip cooled donuts in toppings and press down slightly so the topping stick.

when ready to serve, slice donuts in half, and fry each one in the canola oil so that they look toasted. spread with cream cheese or frosting and top with marzipan shapes. enjoy!


p.s. have you entered the two molly on the range giveaways that are going on right now? preorder the book and then head over here for sesame cardamom sprinkles and here for tattoos

challah donuts + australia

it was like i had traveled in time to get there! from sweaty picnics at ravinia with fresh tomatoes and basil to cozy mountain evenings by the fire with hot mugs of soup. so bonkers! but very welcome because you know how much i love the cozy indoors. 

each morning, pip and haddy and sophie were bustling about the kitchen by sunrise, roasting pumpkin and lighting the fire place. the smells, the energy, and the way the air felt were all identical to thanksgiving morning, i was in heaven. ooh and on one morning, maggie the farm dog and i took a little stroll to go find kangaroos! i saw three at a distance, hop hop hopping away. i squealed and giggled.

we spent our days in sweaters and scarves with cameras glued to our hands, outside was crisp like an apple, and when sufjan came echoing through the dining room i fully submitted to autumn and no amount of tweets out of new york with kvetchings about the heat could hold me back. 

should i get a summer home in australia so that i can have sweater weather all year round? i’ll add it to the chrismukkah list.

what surprised me most about my time in australia, however, were the similarities between here and there. the architecture i saw was so similar, and the surroundings in the city felt like san diego and boston and in the mountains, like wisconsin. the workshop attendees came from all over the country and it struck me how much we aligned with our values, backgrounds, ambitions, the things we liked and our humor… you know how sometimes you meet someone in another country and even though you might understand the words that they’re saying, you feel that they’re just speaking another language and culture entirely? it’s not a bad thing at all, but this was the opposite of that and completely unexpected. i wonder if it’s because our countries are about the same age and melting pot-y. i guess there’s the whole british history too.  it was just such a pleasant surprise to feel so at home so far away. 

ugh i’m getting so mushy, i know. but i really felt like australia was part of the u.s. and the u.s. was part of australia. with vastly different pronunciations of "tahini." 

of course, however, this whole cozy at-home feeling is also because of sophie and luisa, the masterminds behind the local is lovely workshop, who are two of my new favorite people in the whole wide world. they are so kind and smart and generous and the dynamic they created with the whole group of participants was so darn lovely. if you ever happen to be in the market for a food photography workshop, i would recommend theirs 110%. (skye mcalpine will be there in october!!! go go go!)

you know that maya angelou quote about how it’s not what people say that you remember, it’s how they made you feel? i’m going to have the best memories of this weekend because of all those warm fuzzy happy feelings fluttering about. so so great. 

one thing i loved about this workshop was the small group hands on time where all of the participants rotated through luisa’s tapas scene, sophie and pip’s bread and butter scene, and my donut scene. it was citrus season there, so i went wild with blood oranges and made a curd and glaze. the heart of this recipe is the challah dough, though, which can be fried and filled with any curd/custard/cream you’d like and topped with powdered sugar or any glaze. it’s a choose-your-own-adventure donut that can be adapted to the seasons, no matter where in the world you are.

challah donuts

makes 12


2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, like canola or vegetable, plus more for frying

i used this citrus curd, but you can also use buttercream or pastry cream or just leave them plain!

2 c powdered sugar
2 tb cream
blood orange juice (or other juice)


in a medium bowl, combine the yeast, warm water, and 1 teaspoon sugar and give it a little stir. let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it becomes foamy on top. 

meanwhile, in a large bowl or the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix together the salt, flour, and remaining sugar. in a separate medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and oil.

when the yeast is foamy, add it to the dry mixture immediately followed by the egg mixture and stir to combine. knead, either by hand on a floured surface or with a dough hook for 7-10 minutes, adding more flour as necessary (but try not too add too much), until you have a smooth and slightly sticky dough.

transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours. 

fill a large heavy pot fitted with a thermometer with 2” of oil and heat over medium high heat to 360º f.

on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/2” thickness. use a biscuit cutter to cut out 3” circles, re-rolling scraps until the dough is used up. cover the circles with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 more minutes. fry in batches for 1-1 1/2 minutes on both sides and use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a wire rack. let cool.

use a piping bag to pipe the filling into the donuts.

combine the powdered sugar, cream, and a splash of juice and mix until the glaze is a spreadable consistency, adding additional splashes of juice as needed.

dip donuts into glaze, add sprinkles or other decorations, and let the glaze set for a few minutes. serve and enjoy!


hawaij coffee donuts

it is fiiiiiiinally snowing!!!!

and it's been coming down *hard* all day. it's amazing! best day ever. i'm wearing fleece and christmas commercials are on the tv and i've just frosted a bunch of sugar cookies, so happy holidays??? when do we open presents??

part of me wants to put my jammies on, hunker down while tim allen dad bods around in his santa claus outfit, and not emerge until the springtime, but (!) i've got curling again tonight! so hunkering down will have to wait.

ohmygosh, curling is so much fun. on tuesday we went over the basics of releasing the stone down the ice, which i loved because i got to put my yoga lunges and balancing practices to use. tonight we're going to sweep more. we did some of that toward the end of class on tuesday and i kept feeling like i was going to fall on my face but the good part was that it kept me warmer because, my goodness, that rink is cold. i think i'll wear long underwear tonight...

how many of you completed your hawaij assignment this week?? isn't hawaij bananas?!! if you're just joining us, hawaij is a yemeni spice blend and it is pronounced "huh-why-adge." there are two types: hawaij for soup and hawaij for coffee, and the kind we're focusing on today is the coffee blend. (although you should definitely get with some hawaij for soup, too.) hawaij for coffee typically includes ginger and cardamom, and then any number of other spices in that flavor realm, like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, maybe anise or fennel... in other words it is basically what would happen if pumpkin spice got swallowed up by cardamom. and hawaij isn't basic yet, so obsess over it shamelessly while you can! 

hawaij is perfect when it's sprinkled into coffee grounds (it's like cardamom coffee on steroids), and coffee goes well with donuts. so here, have some hawaij coffee donuts! they're very cozy. very tasty. very winter.

hawaij coffee donuts

makes 12


1 c sugar
1 3/4 c flour
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tb hawaij (recipe below)
1 large egg
6 tb buttermilk
6 tb oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c coffee, hot or cold or room temp


1 c confectioners’ sugar
2 tb coffee
1 tb milk
1/2 tsp hawaij


cardamom pods, sprinkles, anise or fennel seeds, optional



1 tb ground ginger

1 tb ground cardamom

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

mix together all ingredients. this will make a little more than you need for this recipe. leftovers can be sprinkled in coffee!


preheat the oven to 375ºf. grease a 12-cavity donut pan and set it aside.

in a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. in a separate medium bowl, whisk together all* wet ingredients. add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture and stir to combine.

*important: if the coffee is hot, do not mix it in with the wet ingredients at first. you don't want it cooking the egg! instead, mix it in at the end, after you've combined the rest of the wet ingredients and dry ingredients.

fill a piping bag with the batter and pipe the batter into the donut pans, filling each cavity halfway. this batter is a bit thin, so this could get a little messy. i stick a finger over the piping bag hole while i'm transitioning between donut cavities and when piping, it's important to go fast since the batter comes out pretty quickly.

bake for 12 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a donut comes out clean. cool in the pan for 5 minutes. remove to a rack and cool completely.

to make the glaze, mix together all ingredients until smooth. if it seems too thick, add more coffee little by little.

to decorate the donuts, dip them halfway into the glaze and then allow excess glaze to drip off. sprinkle the tops with any desired decorations and enjoy!