Vegan Maple Bars

My grandpa? He loves doughnuts. He loves cookies, too — I think it’s genetic — but in the murky shadows of my childhood memory, I will always think of him stopping at a Casey’s General Store to refill his huge travel mug with coffee. Lots of people have certain smells that remind them of their grandparents, that trip the cord of memories past; for me, that smell is the inside of a Casey’s. I know the way that store smells like some people know their grandfather’s cologne.

To be fair, as my grandparents are farmers in western Iowa, pig shit is also a scent I associate with my grandparents.  Still, there is  just something specific about the way Casey’s doughnuts smell. I am approximately 1000% certain I don’t want to know what that “something” is, but hey! Maple-frosted doughnuts may not be a Big Thing in New England, where I’ve spent most of my life, but thanks to my grandfather, they are just one of my favorite things.

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Vegan Maple Bars
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: about a dozen doughnuts
  • 2 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • ½ c plus 3 Tbsp warm water, separated
  • ¼ c plus 1 teaspoon sugar, separated
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 2.5 c flour
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin puree or applesauce
  • 2 Tbsp vegan margarine, softened and broken into pieces
  • flavorless cooking oil, for frying
  • 3 c powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp vegan butter
  • 2+ tsp maple extract
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • 2+ Tbsp water
  1. In a small bowl, stir together yeast, ½ c warm water, and 1 tsp sugar. Set in a warm, draft-free place for 5-10 minutes or until very foamy.
  2. In another small bowl, beat together flax and 3 Tbsp warm water. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, nutmeg and salt.
  4. Create a well in flour mixture. Add pumpkin or applesauce, margarine, flax mixture, and yeast mixture.
  5. Stir until mixture begins to come together into a ball.
  6. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes, or until it's smooth and bounces back when poked gently.
  7. Place dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Place in a warm, draft-free spot for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until doubled.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a rectangle about 1" thick.
  9. Using a sharp knife or a pizza cutter, slice dough into 2x4" rectangles.
  10. Cover dough with a towel and let rise for another 15-20 minutes.
  11. In the meantime, heat oil -- in a deep-fryer or deep, heavy-bottomed pot -- to 360°F.
  12. Fry doughnuts in small batches (2-3 at a time), cooking each side for about 40 seconds, or until golden.
  13. With a slotted spoon, place cooked doughnuts on a paper towel, paper bag, or metal cooling rack to drain any excess oil while they cool.
  14. Repeat until all doughnuts have been fried.
  15. Set aside to cool while you prepare the icing.
  16. In a small bowl, beat together icing ingredients.
  17. Frost doughnuts. Icing should be thick but spreadable. If it's too thick to stir, add a little bit of water; add a little extra powdered sugar if it's gotten too thin.
  18. Best eaten the day they are made.