Easy Baked Cake Donuts to Honor the Hardworking People in Newsrooms Everywhere

Easy Baked Cake Donuts to Honor the Hardworking People in Newsrooms Everywhere

Wednesday, 15 September, 2021

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter or worked like the devil to meet a tight deadline, you know that snacks can be the key to success. A little fat, a little sugar, perhaps some caffeine to keep the engine stoked. No one knows these truths better than the crews that put out newspapers, news shows, and magazines for our consumption.

The characters working the floor of the KCN newsroom in Anna Pitoniak’s twisty thriller Necessary People are hard-working pros. They (mostly) pursue stories with determination and good intentions. The higher-ups? They’re a slightly different story: greedy, plotting, duplicitous. The reporters and editors who work to produce their nightly news show play as hard as they work. Forget donuts; they drink their sustenance in the form of cocktails at their favorite after-work bar.

When professional rivalry turns into a personal vendetta, workplace alliances and romantic relationships take a bullet train into Toxic Town. It’s all a lot of can’t-look-away fun on the page but you wouldn’t really want to work there.

Happily, we have a journalist amongst our audience who tells a very different tale about working as a newsroom producer. She sent us an email about how much she loves her job and the camaraderie she’s found in the newsroom trenches.

She wrote: ‘As fun and energetic as working in a newsroom is, there’s also a powerful protection in it. I’ve covered some really traumatic stuff – but whenever I’ve reached a breaking point, I’ve been surrounded by colleagues who completely understand what I’m going through and are more than ready to crack a bad joke or get stale donuts/pizza or a twelfth cup of coffee with me.’

To honor her and all journalists everywhere, we’re sharing a recipe for easy donuts you can bake in the oven.

Note: You are not required to break a big story nor stay up until the wee hours to enjoy these sweet treats. But as you take a bite, please do say a silent thank you to the journalists out there fighting for the truth on our behalf.

donuts with chocolate frosting on a wooden board
Photo courtesy of Pushpak Dsilva/Unsplash.

Easy Baked Cake Donuts

Makes 12 donuts. Total time 25 minutes.



  • 4 tablespoons (57g) butter
  • 1/4 cup (50g) flavorless oil
  • 1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (71g) brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon nutmeg, to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 2/3 cups (319g) unbleached all-purpose flour*
  • 1 cup (227g) milk*

Chocolate Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup (85g) semisweet chocolate chips or 70% chocolate bar
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) butter
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon (25g) honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • garnish: sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut

Cinnamon Sugar:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Powdered Sugar:

  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

Gluten- & dairy-free: To make gluten-free donuts, replace the all-purpose flour with your favorite gluten-free blend, then add 1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot powder or potato starch. To make them dairy-free, use your favorite alternative milk.

Heads up! This recipe works if you cut it in half and the donuts freeze well. Follow the decorating instructions and let the donuts cool completely, then place them in an airtight container and pop ‘em into the freezer. They defrost at room temperature in about 15 minutes.


Prep. Preheat the oven to 425F/220C. Lightly grease a 12-count doughnut pan.

Make the batter base. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, vegetable oil, and sugars until smooth. Add the eggs, beating to combine. Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla.

Add the flour and milk. Add about 1/3 of the flour to the mixing bowl, followed by 1/2 of the milk. Stir until combined. Repeat with another 1/3 of the flour and the remainder of the milk; stir. Add the remaining flour and stir to combine. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to ensure the batter is smooth, and there are no flour lumps. The batter will be pretty thick — when you pull a spatula through the batter, it will leave a furrow.

Put ‘em in the pan. Spoon the batter into the prepped doughnut pans, filling the wells to about 1/4 inch (.5 cm) below the rim.

Bake. Bake the doughnuts for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and wait 5-7 minutes before turning them out of the pans onto a cooling rack.

For chocolate glazed. Melt all of the ingredients together over low heat or in the microwave, stirring often. When the donuts are completely cooled, dip each donut into the glaze face-down, then return to the wire rack. If you’re using sprinkles or other fun toppings, sprinkle them on top while the glaze is warm, then let the glaze set, about 30 minutes.

For cinnamon-dusted. Place the sugar and cinnamon in a large ziplock bag. Add WARM donuts one at a time and tumble gently until they’re pleasantly coated.

For powdered sugar. Place the confectioner’s sugar in a large ziplock bag. Add WARM donuts one at a time and tumble gently until they’re pleasantly coated. Allow to cool on wire rack. When they’re completely cool, toss in the confectioner’s sugar again.

Devour while contemplating the state of the world and the awesomeness of good journalists.


The demands were obvious to us — we knew exactly what people liked to watch, and what they didn’t. The ratings bore that out, every single week. The audience liked clean takeaways. They liked black-and-white, heroes and villains. They liked the truth, but only kind of; they liked the truth packaged in a way to make them feel better about their own lives. Too much murkiness, and they are reminded of their own murk: their own mistakes, their own shortcomings, the times they, too, misbehaved and mistreated others. Those stories didn’t rate well. If you wanted people to watch, if you wanted to win the demo and get the blockbuster numbers that your bosses demanded, you needed a story with a good ending. — Anna Pitoniak

Necessary People

by Anna Pitoniak

This unputdownable novel is a twisty workplace thriller set in KCN, a New York City cable news network. There’s a thoughtful examination of classism, ambition, and female competition tucked into this BFFs-to-frenemies tale — and it’s whoop-out-loud bananas in a very satisfying way. The story swirls around two young upstarts: Stella and Violet. Opposites attract, and the two become fast friends at college. Stella is rich, blonde, and beautiful; she does as she pleases all the time. Her privilege and wealth have eliminated any need for thinking about consequences or other people. Empathy, shmempathy. So obvs, Violet is hardworking and determined, an escapee from a background of poverty and abuse. She has her eyes on the prize: She will earn good grades, land a great job, and leave her crappy past behind. {more}

This thriller (352 pages) was published in May of 2019 by Little, Brown. The book takes you to a cable TV newsroom. Melissa read Necessary People and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if she didn't recommend it.

Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support independent bookstores and give back to the book community.

Necessary People


Top image courtesy of AvgeekJoe/Flickr.

Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!

keep reading

Extra, extra! Our new podcast episode is all about the colorful history, hard work, and high-stakes drama of journalism. Join us for must-read books that highlight the media pros and news stories that shape our world.
Yes, yes, the Pulitzer Prize is great. But did you know that Joseph Pulitzer — a Jewish Hungarian-American and legendary newspaper publisher — masterminded a successful crowdfunding campaign? Well done, New Yorkers.
Most major news outlets have multiple Instagram accounts to help you follow breaking news and keep up with coverage. These accounts offer something different — some lighthearted, some serious, all thought-provoking.

sharing is caring!

Can you help us? If you like this article, share it your friends!

our mission

Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.

our patreon

Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.

get our newsletter

Join our Substack to get our FREE newsletter with podcast updates and behind-the-scenes info join in fun chats about books and travel.

no spoilers. ever.

We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.

super-cool reading fun
reading atlas

This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.

get our newsletter
Sign up for our free Substack!
follow us

Content on this site is ©2024 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.