Is there anything as universally loved as an apple cider doughnut?
That’s a pretty hyperbolic statement about a fried piece of dough, I know, but I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love them. And if you’re out there and you don’t love them, please keep quiet because I really went all in with my opening line. Thanks.
I get apple cider doughnuts every summer, actually, rather than fall. We stop by Cold Hollow Cider Mill on our way home from Vermont. They fry them right next to the register, making it impossible not to get two or three or four to go with your coffee or, duh, hot cider. And there’s no getting just one, either. You watch the really cool doughnut machine dropping perfectly round dollops of dough into shimmering oil and then the oil bubbles all around the doughnuts as they slowly make their way down the oil stream and then they’re flipped over by a panel and next thing you know, they’re on their way up a ramp and drop onto a paper-towel lined tray, hot and ready for consumption. And you just can’t have only one, do you understand? It’s simply not possible…They’re also kinda small. Not in a bad way. Just in a way that makes it ok for you to get at least two. Really, the mill is just looking out for you.
What I’m realizing is that I need one of these doughnut machines. I’ll make room for it in my apartment kitchen that I share with two other people. They’ll be onboard. Who needs the extra counter space in Brooklyn? This machine is a necessity. We’ll use it all the time.
Ok, I just looked it up and they’re like, $8,000. So I guess I’ll stick with my trusty dutch oven.
Last weekend, I found myself itching to make doughnuts, as I often am at this time of year, and I just so happened to have a quart of Cold Hollow’s cider in my fridge, not to mention some fall foliage sprinkles that have been waiting around in my cupboard for two years. So apple cider doughnuts it was. Pumpkin doughnuts are so two years ago, amirite?
While I don’t think apple cider doughnuts will ever be as good coming from a home kitchen as they are coming from a machine at a cider mill, these come pretty dern close. Get after it, y’all.
Now, to deal with that 29 oz. can of pumpkin puree hiding next to my fall sprinkles…
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Followed this recipe exactly, added a glaze
Yields: about 16 doughnuts and doughnut holes
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (or pre-ground is fine)
½ cup buttermilk
1/3 cup boiled apple cider (1 – 1 ½ cups apple cider will boil down for this)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Canola (for frying)
Cinnamon sugar (mixed together for rolling the doughnuts in)
Confectioner’s sugar and milk (for glazing, if you’d like)
- 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. (Or, if you’re too lazy to haul down your Kitchenaid from the cubby above your closet like me, take a change and do this by hand!) 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.
- Boil your cider down to a 1/3 of a cup. Pour about a cup and a half into a small saucepan and let it simmer for about half an hour, maybe a little less. Let cool.
- Pour buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla into sugar/butter/egg mixture. Add the dry ingredients and combine just until fully incorporated. Be careful not to over-mix.
- 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 biscuit cutters) to cut out about 16 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.
- While your dough is in the freezer, mix together your cinnamon sugar. Think about a cup of sugar with 3 tablespoons on cinnamon. I eyeballed this, and you should, too. Now’s the time to make your glaze, if you so choose. I also eyeballed this. Start with about a cup and a half of confectioner’s sugar and two pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg. Add the milk sparingly while stirring until you have a consistency you like. It takes a lot less milk that you think. Add in a bit of vanilla as well.
- Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels with a cooling rack on top and set it nearby. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 370° (test with an instant-read 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, roll them in the cinnamon sugar or dip them on one side in the glaze. IF you’re using sprinkles, go ahead and sprinkle those sprinkles while the glaze is still wet. Serve immediately…or bring them to work a day and a half later like I did. They’ll still be delicious.