I think this weekend was one of the first weekends of fall in which it officially felt like so. Without any complaints, it felt as though summer was having a difficult time saying goodbye and tried to linger on for as long as possible.
The gray clouds and lightly falling rain that permeated the skies were reminders of what’s to come; when the leaves are changing into a rainbow of colors and when you’ll have to finally take the cozy sweaters out of storage. I was therefore inspired to try my hand at making one of my favorite farmers market treats: Apple Cider Donuts.
There’s something so comforting about having one of these little spiced treats on a crisp autumn day. I think it goes back to when my mom would bring home a paper bag filled with these cinnamon sugared donuts that my siblings and I devoured in no time flat. Now, every once in and while when I make a trip to the market, I still like to indulge, but thought it’d be even better to try making them myself.
I had never made donuts before, so I really had no idea what goes into donuts or what makes them perfectly soft and moist, so the recipe that I used seemed like a good place to start. There were also lots of recipes that I found that baked the donuts instead of fried them, but I wanted to try the old fashioned way first.
After they fried, I quickly removed them from the oil and placed them on a wire cooling rack to allow the excess oil to drip off and once they cooled down enough, I dipped them in cinnamon sugar and they were ready to go!
While the flavor was there, there was essentially something else missing from this recipe. They were crunchier than I like and therefore got hard fairly quickly and they were missing that moist denseness that I look for in a really good apple cider donut. If I do try making these again, I will either modify this recipe or try a new one altogether, but for my first time making donuts, I’m fairly pleased with the results.
Apple Cider Donuts
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2 3/4 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening (or lard, if you have it)
- 1 egg plus one egg yolk
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
- 2 1/4-inch and 1 1/4-inch round cookie cutters
- Canola oil, for frying
- 1/2 cup sugar, for topping
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for topping
- First, boil and reduce your apple cider until it reduces to 1/3 cup, and then set it aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- Sift your dry ingredients, and cream your shortening and sugar together. Add in the egg and egg yolk and mix on high until light and thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Combine the reduced apple cider and buttermilk. Then alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to your stand mixer, until just combined. The dough will be soft and sticky, much like cookie dough.
- Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or overnight.
- When you are ready to roll and fry the donuts, heat a large pot or dutch oven with at least 2 inches of oil over medium heat until the oil reaches 370° F on a candy thermometer. On a generously floured board or piece of parchment paper, gently roll the chilled dough into a circle about 1/2-inch thick and about 8 inches wide.
- Cut as many donuts and holes as possible, making sure to flour the cutters before each cut. Gently re-roll the scraps and cut more holes. If at any time the dough becomes too soft to handle, just put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.
- Place the cut donuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, until they are slightly firm and easier to handle. While the donuts are chilling, stir together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping in a shallow, wide bowl.
- Brush off any excess flour and fry the donuts for about 1 minute per side, being careful not to crowd the pan.
- When the donuts are deep golden brown on each side, remove them from the oil, gently blot off excess oil, and toss immediately in the cinnamon sugar.