Apple Cider Donuts

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It’s fall. It’s getting cooler, the leaves are changing and my Facebook feed is full of posts from the Franklin Cider Mill. It’s one of my favorite places in Michigan (where I’m from). It’s a super cute cider mill in the near suburbs of Detroit. It’s only open for a few months in the fall. I would go on field trips when I was a kid and with my family. As an adult, when I go back to visit,  I love taking my son and getting a bag of donuts and hot cider. Ah, the cider donuts. You can smell the nutmeg as you walk up to the barn, the bottom of the bag is warm, and the donuts are soft and delicious.

Naturally, I began scouring the web looking for a recipe and settled on this one from Vermont. It was very easy to follow and the donuts were delicious. I’m still working on my deep frying skills and still contemplating purchasing a deep fryer. I made them a little thicker than they needed to be, and I should’ve used a larger cutter for the center, but they still turned out well. There was the faint hint of cider and nutmeg, very reminiscent of the donuts from the cider mill.

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Of course, there was one problem. I didn’t read the recipe completely before starting and I noticed that it called for boiled cider. Ok, so while I had everything else in the mixer I quickly boiled 1/3 cup of cider, wondering what it’s purpose was (I’ve never heard of “boiled” cider). Had I read the note at the bottom, I would’ve seen that you’re really starting with 1/3 of reduced apple cider, not 1/3 of hot cider. I was a little pissed that there wasn’t an asterisk or anything in the list of ingredients, but I should have read the entire recipe first. Oh well, they were still great, and I’ve already added the recipe to my binder. I’m going to make another batch while I still have the cider.

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Apple Cider Donuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk (I used full fat)
  • 1/3 cup boiled apple cider (reduced from 1 ½ cup, see note at bottom)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Canola or safflower oil (for frying)
  • Cinnamon sugar (1-1/2 cups sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon) or confectioners’ sugar

Method:

In a large bowl using a hand-held or standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together sugar and butter until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-6 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating a minute after each. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.

Pour buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla into sugar/butter/egg mixture. Mix well, and don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled; it’ll smooth itself out. Add flour mixture and combine gently just until fully moistened.

Line two baking sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper and dust generously with flour. Turn dough out onto one baking sheet and pat gently into 3/4-inch-thickness. Sprinkle dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. Remove dough from the freezer; use a lightly floured 3-inch doughnut cutter (or two concentric circle cutters) to cut out about 18 doughnuts with holes. (You may gather the scraps and roll again as needed, but you may need to chill the dough more to firm it up.) Place cut doughnuts on the other baking sheet as you go; then transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again.

Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and set it nearby. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 370° (test with an instant-read or deep fry thermometer). Drop 3 or 4 doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute; then flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute longer.

Repeat with the remaining dough (if you find that it’s getting too soft as you work your way through the batches, pop it into the freezer again for 10 minutes). When doughnuts are cool enough to handle but still warm, sprinkle all over with cinnamon sugar or confectioners’ sugar. Serve immediately.

Note: Boiled apple cider gives these apple cider donuts a rich, slightly tangy flavor. You can buy boiled cider at some gourmet and Whole Foods stores, or, you can boil your own cider by simmering 1-1/2 cups of fresh apple cider down to 1/3 cup in about 25 minutes–it just won’t be as concentrated as the commercial product.  

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