Absolutely Wonderful Homemade Buttermilk Bars

(I’m making a departure from Joy of Cooking because Marlene requested this recipe. Have fun, Marlene, and everybody else!)

I love 2 kinds of donuts: buttermilk bars and old fashioned. None other really. And even these two I don’t like with a ton of extra sugar all over them. I definitely don’t like them with any doo-dads like sprinkles. Marty is the opposite. The more sprinkles and doo-dads the better. To each his own I say. He’s also okay with store bought donuts. I used to be but somewhere along the line they started using a mix that makes all donuts taste the same. Store bought donuts also have a weird mouth feel, an icky waxy coating at the roof of my mouth.

So, when I saw this recipe, I thought OMG I’m going to make them, and I hope they turn out really well. They did! I learned a thing or two and I’m passing my learning on to you. Maybe you will make them and enjoy them as much as I did.


Use whatever sugar you have on hand. I used equal parts granulated and brown sugar, but you can also use all of either one and they’ll be good too. But no guarantees. I can guarantee my recipe LOL.

Be generous with flour. This dough will be very sticky, almost like a very thick batter. More on that later. Don’t be afraid to flour your hands and equipment generously to prevent sticking.

If you have a fish spatula or a spider to transfer the dough to the oil. I used a slotted spoon.

Don’t worry about how they look. They’re meant to be tasty. Not perfectly shaped.

Buttermilk Bar Donuts

If you make the whole batch, you will get somewhere around 30 bars.

Donut Ingredients

4 T (1/4 C) unsalted butter

3-1/2 C cake flour (use cake flour. It has less gluten in it for a lighter finished product) + more for dusting.

2-3/4 t baking powder

¼ t baking soda

1-1/2 t kosher salt (kosher is just salt. No anti-caking ingredients or even dextrose/sugar)

¾ t ground nutmeg

½ C packed light brown sugar

½ C granulated sugar

1 large egg

3 large egg yolks

¾ C buttermilk

About 2 quarts vegetable oil (I used canola) for deep frying

Vanilla Glaze Ingredients

2 C powdered sugar, sifted if lumpy.

1 T vanilla extract

¼ C boiling water


Place unsalted butter in a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high until melted. Set aside.

Place the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in medium bowl and whisk to combine.

Place the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. I didn’t have a paddle, so I used the wire whip attachment. I had to scrape the sides of the bowl frequently. Or you can use a hand mixer or electric mixer. Beat on medium until fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and add whole egg and the yolks one at a time. Scrape bowl as needed. Add buttermilk and mix until combined.

Add dry ingredients all at once and mix by hand until combined. The dough will be quite sticky. Mine was the consistency of very thick batter. If yours is this way I would suggest adding a bit more flour to make it a sticky dough instead of a very thick batter. I found later on that the very thick batter made it hard to scoop into the oil. Use your common sense. It should not be dry whatsoever. Refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. It will still be sticky but will firm up considerably.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Heavily flour a work surface and your hands with cake flour. Transfer half the dough to your work surface. Sprinkle with more flour. Pat into a 3 x 24-inch rectangle about ½ inch thick. Add more flour if you need to. You will brush off the extra flour later.

Using a floured bench scraper or big knife, cut the rectangle into 1-1/2-inch-wide bars. I wound up cutting mine in half again and I’m glad I did because my dough turned out to be hard to scoop up. The smaller size made it easier. Again, common sense. Press down in middle of each bar with knife or scraper. Not cut. Just press. This gives it the distinctive buttermilk bar look. This didn’t really work well for me. Maybe it will work better for you. I didn’t care. They still tasted great.

Using a brush lightly brush off excess flour. Using the scraper transfer each bar to the baking sheet, flipping it over so indentation is down. Brush off excess flour on that side. Refrigerate again.

Fill large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pot with oil. At least 2 inches of oil. Heat to medium high heat until 350 degrees or a bit above because the temp will drop when you fry the bars.  I have a digital thermometer. I don’t have a fry daddy or anything like that. Getting the oil the right temperature is essential.

Fry in batches of 4-5. Don’t crowd the pot. Use slotted spoon, fish ladle or spider to carefully transfer the bars in. Fry about 1 minute per side until they are golden brown. Transfer to wire rack. Let cool to room temperature before glazing. If the oil is the right temperature you will be surprised how little oil is used.


Put powdered sugar in bowl with the vanilla and boiling water. Whisk until shiny smooth and lump free. Dip a donut into the glaze halfway. Return to rack.


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