Cherry Blossom Doughnuts and the Smells of Spring

Spring is only days away and I can feel it in the air. Longer days spent outside, trees blooming, the anticipation of egg hunts and beautiful produce in our market mark the beginning of one of my favorite times of year. Even though we are lucky to have gorgeous winter weather, I always look forward to Spring and its bounty.

I remember the park in my hometown lined with rows of endless blooming tress. Pinks, purples and greens so vibrant with crisp mornings and morning dew.

A few days ago, I received a wonderful package all the way from Japan from fellow food blogger Chika of the beautiful She Who Eats. It was filled with all things cherry blossom. Sakura extract, sakura sugar, freeze dried sakura, preserved sakura… I am not a big fan of floral scents and flavors, but this sakura extract is surprisingly mild and fresh.

Chika was telling me about how the japanese love their sakura confections. I have always wanted to travel to Japan, but that particular conversation really revived my curiosity. Japanese patisserie is really turning into something very, very exciting that I would like to experience soon. Soon, I hope.

This is a gluten free doughnut recipe based on my pumpkin and hazelnut doughnuts that I posted a few months ago. They are scented with lemon zest and cherry blossom extract and rolled in cherry blossom sugar while warm. I am keeping this one for another day after I tweak it a little bit more, but I also found a great looking recipe over here.

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123 Responses to “Cherry Blossom Doughnuts and the Smells of Spring”

  1. erin says:

    unbelievably lovely photographs. wishing i could bite into one these right now!

  2. enjuliana says:

    Wow!! Great doughnuts..I think I would tray to do them for easter!!
    Love pictures!

  3. I saw these and said “yum, doughnuts!” and then I saw that they were cherry blossom and died a little. In a good way. I want these right now!!!

  4. You’re posts just make me happy. The colors are light and soft and I just want to crawl in the picture and eat those perfectly-shaped doughnuts.

  5. Rowaida says:

    WOW!Aran this looks amazingly delicious, love your photos, thanks.

  6. m says:

    I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven. I’ve been feeling so guilty lately about eating donuts, but this, this is extraordinary–sakura donuts. So beautiful and it looks delicious! If only I could make them myself–I wouldn’t feel guilty eating these!

  7. Simply fantastic!!
    I love yr photos& yr recipes!

  8. Brittany says:

    oh my, oh my. this is spring.

  9. i adore japan and having lived there for a while i can attest to how beautiful and magical it is when the blossoms are in bloom. I am the biggest fan of japanese cuisine, their broths, pickled vegetables and sushi is like nothing i have ever tasted but i must confess to not having had much dessert- now reading this i am kicking myself.

    the last picture aran is just so fresh and beautiful as a sweet smelling blossom.

  10. The donuts look so fluffy and heavenly sprinkled with sugar! Beautiful!

  11. Ana Segura says:

    Qué ricos, qué bonitas las fotos, haces de una receta simple algo fantástico y realmente plástico.

  12. It’s fantastic… very, very good! Mmmmh! ^_^ Ciao. Deborah

  13. Aran, my mouth is watering and Im weak in the knees! Such beautiful pictures with the most exotic recipe! I’ve never heard of cherry blossom extract and I am so intrigued. I’ve cooked with orange blossom and I hope to one day come across sakura :) thank you for painting such a beautiful picture of spring!

  14. Gorgeous doughnuts and awesome shots!



  15. No blooms here yet..but your photos are Springinspiring!

  16. henzy says:

    i couldn’t pay attention to a word you wrote.. i kept staring at the yummy donuts and munkins…

  17. shirin says:

    gorgeous photos! The doughnuts look delicious, can’t believe you made them yourself.

  18. Stacy says:

    Looks so delicious…yum

  19. Asha @ FSK says:

    Cherry Blossom extract and sugar?? I have never heard of that flavor!! now, I have got to get my hands on them.. Gorgeous donuts Aran

  20. Alicia says:

    How I’ve missed visiting your nook of the blog world but now with life returning to normal Im sweetly giddy as the doughnuts to peek into your kitchen again.
    By the by, congrats on the Saveur nomination. I did a post today with a link to vote for you!!!!

  21. jacqui says:

    Wow, I’m not a huge fan of doughnut, but you make them look so good. The idea of cherry blossom extract and sugar is intriguing, wonder where I can get my hands on some!

  22. Belinda says:

    Happy spring! These look so light and fluffy and happy.

  23. Doughnuts are not my favorite but I have to say that yours make me want to bake some! Thanks for the inspiration and the beautiful pictures. As usual.

  24. Oh this sound so great! I hope I’ll be able to find some of these ingredients here in the states! I also wanted to let you know (and I hope you don’t mind) but my husband and I started a cooking blog ( But it’s nothing like your beautiful one :) ) My first recipe is one of your tart and soup recipes. You’re so inspiring! Thank you so much for your blog.

  25. whisk-kid says:

    These are beautiful! I made doughnuts recently myself; it’s so fun! I can’t wait to see the recipe.

    Also, She Who Eats is a gorgeous blog. I don’t know how I never spotted it before! Thanks for the link!

  26. Susan says:

    I just love your blog. I am awarding you the Beautiful Blog Award. You may accept it here.


  27. tawc says:

    ohhh…and I just burnt my chamomile financiers–certainly not photo worthy like those perfectly blonde doughnuts. i’m inspired to pay more attention to time (and my nose, actually…)

  28. Lovely Sakura colour!! For a bit more info, I’ve found the latest text in English on “Sakura-mochi”, epitomised Japanese spring sweets:

  29. Your pictures of Cherry Blossoms are reminding me of my upcoming trek:). I know I will see those beautiful cherry laden trees when I go to Manali in May and this time when I go there I will remember your pictures too:). Thanks to your post I discovered another lovely blog and a wonderful photostream at Shewhoeats! Thanks!

  30. Is that rhubarb sauce with the doughnuts? Swoon.

  31. eboast says:

    Japanese sweets are a delight, indeed!
    I recently moved to Japan and have witnessed the sakura mania. Even in February, when it was most definitely still winter, stores were introducing sakura-flavored goods: a little street stand that sells taiyaki (fish-shaped pancakes surrounding sweet red bean paste) featured a sakura and mochi-filled version. Even the local Starbucks was Starbucks was advertising a sakura tea latte!

  32. Bonnie says:

    This whole post is just beautiful. The donuts are great for those who are gluten-free.

  33. Aran,
    The pictures are awesome!! Can you get cherry blossom extract here in the US? I am in Arkansas. My brother is going to Japan later in the spring maybe I can get him to bring me back some.

  34. Danielle says:

    what a wonderfully beautiful idea. Cherry blossoms? Who woulda thunk it?

  35. Having lived in Japan for many years, and having done plenty of feasting on kashi (pastry) and sakura with eyes and belly, I must say that you capture the essence of these beautiful blossoms and their delicate essence PERFECTLY in your photos. We live in Portland now….but enjoying your blog has been a bit of armchair travel. :)
    Where did you find the sakura sugar + extracts?
    Thank you!

  36. Hilary says:

    I have two distinct memories of cherry blossoms: both in New York.

    The first was Japanese, at Minamoto Kitchoan uptown. Sakura Mochi wrapped in pickled shiso leaves. Minamoto Kitchoan is a Japanese pastry shop that imports Japanese pastries daily, frozen, so that they are at their freshest.

    My second cherry blossom experience was while working at the raw food restaurant, Pure Food & Wine, off Union Square (also in New York City). We ordered edible flowers from a grower upstate and during the couple of weeks that his cherry trees blossomed he sent us boxes of the flowers to toss over our infamous raw tiramisu. Once Emiril Lagasse and Mario Batali were eating outside of Batali’s bistro on the corner and we brought them one of our raw tiramisus to taste; with cherry blossoms of course.

  37. Francesca says:

    Not a doughnut fan, but those little ones are adorable. I love all the pink in your photos, and hope to see our cherry trees blossom soon.

  38. Shyla says:

    Gorgeous and delicious!!!!

  39. MeetaK says:

    oh yes aran – i wish we would feel some of the spring here soon. i am hopeful though that is is not far away! these doughnuts look lovely. i am sure soeren would love them but i think he would have to fight me to them LOL!

  40. When I left Japan last year, my cousin gave me a little container of sakura sugar and I always wondered wat to do with it and now I know. Thank you, and Chika san.

  41. Sigrid says:

    Oh, come on?!!!
    I received exactely the same sakura-kit you got and, I swear, I was thinking of sakura-donuts… well, I guess I’ll have to find myself another recipe :-))

  42. Dajda says:

    Lovely photos, all this pink looks like spring is alredy here!

  43. Curra says:

    Todavía tnemos mucho frío por aquí, pero con estas fotos huelo la primavera a mi alrededor.
    Dan ganas de tomarse una rosquilla de esas.
    Un abrazo

  44. Lentinealexis- a friend sent them from Japan. Not sure they are available in the US. Sorry…

    Hilary- beautiful!

    Susan- thank you!

    Thanks everyone!

  45. Shabs.. says:

    those dough nuts looks perfect….and yummylicious….would be following your recipe when j make doughnuts next:)

  46. Oh, sempre meravigliosi i tuoi post

  47. Ainhoa says:

    Arroz Pastelak osos gozoak. Urrengoan donutsak. Mila esker eta ondo pasa gurasoekin

  48. What a gorgeous recipe! I’m so intrigued by the cherry blossom extract.

  49. chika says:

    Hi Aran,

    These are lovely! It’s wonderful to see how you have turned those little bits and pieces into such a beauty, and how I wish I could taste them right now… donuts are one of the few (okay, many) things that I love to eat but just don’t (can’t) make myself…

    Sigrid, you are still more than welcome to make sakura donuts! ;)

  50. Victoria says:

    It is finally warm enough over here to hang my laundry out to dry…this is the closest to spring we are going to get for a few weeks i think! These doughnuts looks amazing and make me yearn for north american baking and doughnuts galore!! :)

  51. Seanna Lea says:


    I wonder if I can get sakura extract at the Japanese groceries in the Boston area. I would love to try my hand at something like this.

  52. wow. i have never seen such a pretty bunch of doughnuts!

  53. Oh, your post made me smile so big this morning. :-) Such beautiful creations, I can almost smell them, feel the sugar melting on my tongue. Delicious. :-)

  54. Ciao .. quante cose buone…
    che capolavori!!!
    Mia suocera è di San Sebastian, ogni anno passiamo un po’ di giorni al mare li!
    E’ un bellissimo posto!
    Ciao Elisa

  55. Sirocco says:

    Love the little round ones – I could eat a dozen! Your photographs are so beautifully styled – they always inspire me to work on my photography (and cooking) skills. Cherry blossom sugar… mmm, that sounds SO good.

  56. Stephanie says:

    What lovely photos, and these look so tasty! I couldn’t imagine doing a cherry blossom festival without these.

  57. I’ts all beautiful!! compliments!!!

  58. Sari says:

    What lovely photos full of spring mood and colours! Spring has already come here too, and it makes me feel so much happier! :) I love those small doughnuts balls. So cute.

  59. Lila says:

    Oh yum! you always make your food look so elegant and classy.
    Lila Ferraro
    Queen Bedroom Sets

  60. J2Kfm says:

    Refreshing, for I never knew sakura can be made into any edible forms.
    Here we do have hibiscus in jams and drinks though.

  61. Molly says:

    To capture cherry blossoms in a flavor sounds dreamy, perfect. Lovely, these.


  62. Bethany says:

    These look absolutely beautiful and delicious! It’s too bad there is a big awful looking advertisement for Tyson chicken running the length of your post.

  63. Been desperately looking for a great food blog. What a find.

    Fantastic photos and styling!

  64. These look insanely delicious!! Photographed so beautifully as always.

  65. Jeanne says:

    What lovely photographs! And such yummy-looking donuts! I’m honored that you linked to my recipe! Donuts for everyone!

  66. elina says:

    Looking forward to your tweaks on this recipe. I’m not a big fan of pumpkin puree eventhough the previous hazelnut flour doughnut looked wonderful with all the spices.

  67. Sprout says:

    There’s nothing like lightly sugar-crusted lips after a good donut. Great post.

    Thanks for sharing!

  68. OMG, no wonder your blog is constantly receiving raves from everyone. The food and photos say it all. The doughnuts are darling!!

  69. yum these look so good! Great pics too :-)

  70. alexa.h says:

    Great post! I love to use orange blossom water, for light floral notes, but have never tried this cherry blossom esque ingredient. I also love that these are gluten free! fabulous!

  71. Melanie says:

    So beautiful. I love the thought of cherry blossoms.

  72. The photos alone have inspired me to try. I have always wanted to make donuts. There is just something about the smell, the texture, the taste.

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  74. Fuji Mama says:

    This post makes me SO homesick for Japan! I just used up the last of my sakura extract about a month ago. I love the thought of using it to make donuts. Wonder if I could convince the hubby that the lack of sakura extract is reason enough to send me back to Japan for a week? LOL

  75. Hi!

    I can’t believe these are gluten free *drools* They look so good! Mmmmm..

  76. As always, amazing styling! I love doughnuts! Thanks for posting!

    Have a wonderful day!

  77. Garrett says:

    And the search for sakura extract begins…

  78. Judith says:

    I hadn’t realized that you and Chika were connected (I found you through the Times article)- I’ve been following her blog for a few years now, its wonderful. A good pairing, you both have a graceful eye.

    I’m off to Barcelona tomorrow, and as always when I go there, I’ll have a roam through the Boquería market … can I get you anything? :))

    xxx Judith

  79. Judith- everything? take me in your suitcase!

    Thanks all for your comments. I have to work on the recipe some more because although the doughnuts appear light and fluffy, they were a bit heavy. Heavier than I like a doughnut to be. I wonder if I can come up with a gf yeast doughnut instead of the cake version. Shall see!

  80. Valérie says:

    Je suis très curieuse à propos de tous ces produits à la fleur de cerisier, j’adore ce parfum mais je me demande ce que ça donne en cuisine ! En tout cas tes donuts et tes photos sont sublimes, comme toujours !

  81. Hilda says:

    Beautiful pictures as always Aran! You never cease to amaze. Every so often, I get totally nostalgic for being in Japan and having great Japanese food (I’ve been there 3 times) and also being able to have great French patisserie since they’re totally obsessed with it over there, but I would give up a ticket for some of these I think. Surprisingly, there are tons of cherry blossom trees in London and they are starting to bloom, which eases the winter pain a bit, as would these I’m sure. x =)

  82. Lady Grey says:

    Wow! This blog has the most amazing food photography I’ve ever seen. I’m in awe!

  83. aran! I was just looking for the perfect dessert recipe for a little brunch i am throwing here sunday and hello? perfect! also want to try the cherry blossom extract helen sent me last year! thank you. and these look incredible. such a beautiful shoot,. wish i was there to help you eat them ;)

  84. bill says:

    Those cherry blossom doughnuts look so good its not right! There is a little French bakery here in Cool Springs that sells something close and they are amazing.

  85. I love how cherry blossom is popping up everywhere as a flavor – sounds delicious!

  86. Wow how utterly beautiful,
    I had never heard of sakura before, now I am lusting for it! hmm, let the search begin….

    Sarah x

  87. so pretty and delicate!

    you’ve certainly merited that photography nomination!

    a bientot
    the Paris Food Blague

  88. Y says:

    These look amazing! Love that pink theme. Don’t think I’ve ever tried gluten-free donuts, but I bet I’ll like ‘em :)

  89. Melissa says:

    just stumbled upon your blog…lovely!
    These doughnuts look AMAZING!

  90. Jeri says:

    Looks delicious. Beautiful photographs.

    I have those cherry blossom glasses. I love them. My children are not permitted to use them I love them so much. Sadly two have still mysteriously broken.

  91. Deeba PAB says:

    HAPPY SPRING Aran; what a beautiful way to welcome it.

  92. Nikki says:

    Oh this post is just scintillating! What a beautiful recipe that is so reminiscent of spring, and sunny days, and the sweet pink! Stunning, yet again!

  93. Bertha says:

    I’ve been thinking the perfect way to capture the beautiful Spring in food and picture, but words cannot describe how perfect this is! enough said.

  94. sinnlighet says:

    Your blog ….. it’s amazing and soooo inspiring as usual.

    A small footprint from Agneta & Sweden

    Ps. I have an ongoing jewelry contest on my blog. Welcome! Ds

  95. Rosie says:

    …have not tried the recipe,but even, if perhaps they tasted less than perfect, I think I might make make them any way, if not just to gaze upon their beauty :) Your pic is fabulous!!!!

  96. Alisa says:

    Your photos never fail to make me smile!You make the simplest things look magical :) Where do you hide your pixie dust? Alisa-Foodista

  97. Lilpixie says:

    Incredible photographs so so beautiful

  98. Wow, that sakura sounds absolutely fascinating. I am always looking for new ingredients to put into cocktails – thank you for bringing this to my attention. And my God, what beautiful photos you have on your blog:)
    - Columbine Quillen

  99. Zerogluten says:

    Ya te lo dije en una ocasión, la más grande!!!!!!!!!! sin duda.
    Si supieras como suspira Martín por unos donuts sin gluten, pero aquí no encuentro las harinas que mencionas. Una pena.
    Besitos sin gluten.

  100. This is my first time visiting your blog and I’m hooked!! xoxo

  101. Junglefrog says:

    So delicious and yes spring seems to finally be peeking around here too! This afternoon it was my first time being out in the garden and sitting for a short while enjoying the rays of sunshine… Ah.. something I missed so much!! This looks absolutely lovely and sounds interesting with those Japanese additions

  102. veron says:

    Ah donuts! And I love cherry blossoms! That’s a lovely package of all things sakura!

  103. RV says:

    Gorgeous Pics, I can’t resist from having a virtual bite.

  104. Meg says:

    Oh my goodness! I followed this link from another site, where I saw the picture (at “The Kitchn”). I had never seen your blog before, so I didn’t know your recipes were gluten-free…so the whole time I was reading your post, I was wondering if I would be able to convert the recipe. Imagine my surprise when I found it was *already* gluten-free!

    It looks absolutely lovely. Thanks for such a pretty spring treat!

  105. These are the most gorgeous doughnuts I have ever seen! Woww…cannot wait to try them out. Bravo on an absolutely beautiful treat

  106. Chris says:

    Where can one find Sakura extract? Other than Japan? I haven’t found it online yet..

  107. Chris- i’m afraid you will have to order it from japan. i havent found any vendors not even online. sorry..

  108. Danielle says:

    Your photography is beautiful. The doughnuts remind me of ones my Italian Grandmother used to make for us during Easter. Yum.

    Check out my Portland food blog if you get a chance:

  109. This post makes me want to eat my computer!

  110. Your images are absolutely delectable. And this particular post is something I am most definitely craving (mid-afternoon – need a sugar boost).

    Gorgeous blog. So happy to have found you. =)

  111. mike says:

    Wow! Those are great pictures that made me really craving for a doughnut. It goes really well with a cup of coffee especially from one of my automatic coffee makersThank you for sharing with us this great recipe, now I will try it out at a get together with my family this weekend. I really enjoyed you post. Please continue to share more recipes in the future!

  112. Nikky says:

    Can you post the recipe?

  113. Amy Johnson says:

    Hi. I have a birthday coming up in a few weeks. I would love to have these on my menu for breakfast. Can you please post the recipe for this?
    And if you, if you know of a place I can order the sakura sugar or someone you can contact willing to ship to me (I will pay) that would be wonderful!!!!


  114. Amy Johnson says:

    I found some sakura sugar in Japan. Unfortunately they don’t ship internationally. If someone knows somebody who is willing to buy it and ship it to us for a price that would be great.

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