For my birthday this year, I decided against a cake (But of course, I changed my mind). My birthday is in October and I wanted to enjoy a treat that encapsulates the best the season has to offer and in my mind, that means apple cider doughnuts. (Plus, I have an epic Halloween cake planned and two heavily decorated cakes in one month just seemed too much, even for me).
I made these last year for Thanksgiving and they flew off the plate. The cider glaze puts them over the top. I have made these doughnuts before boiling the cider down myself, but the flavor just isn’t there. Commercial boiled cider is the way to go; the flavor is intense and doesn’t get diluted down in the doughnut batter. I bought my cider from amazon; the brand I like is Mountain Cider Company. I like the addition of tart apple pieces but you can leave them out.
These doughnuts get quite brown as they cook due to the cider and the high sugar content; don’t worry, they are not burnt. Once rolled in cinnamon sugar, they look a lot more like the apple cider doughnuts you see for sale at pick-your-own apple orchards. I do recommend testing the first doughnut you fry to be sure that the doughnut is cooked all the way through and isn’t burned; it took a few tries for me to get the temperature of my deep fryer right and my cooking time perfected.
Enjoy these with a cup of coffee (to really go whole hog for Fall a Pumpkin Spiced Latte is a must) or a tall glass of milk. To me, this is better than any birthday cake. Enjoy!
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
1/3 cup boiled apple cider
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
4 medium apples, peeled and diced into 1/8 inch cubes, tossed in 2 tablespoons of flour (such as MacIntosh)
Canola or safflower oil (for frying)
Cinnamon sugar (1-1/2 cups sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon)
Cider glaze (1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar plus 2 tablespoons boiled cider)
In a large bowl use a hand-held or standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment to beat together the sugar and butter until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating a minute after each addition until thoroughly combined. In another bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
Pour the buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla bean paste into wet mixture. Mix well; don’t be concerned if the mixture looks curdled; the flour will fix it. Add the dry mixture and combine gently just until fully moistened. Fold in the chopped apples.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and dust generously with flour. Turn the dough out onto one baking sheet and press into 3/4-inch-thickness. Sprinkle dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes or fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. Remove dough from the freezer or fridge. Using a lightly floured 3-inch doughnut cutter cut out about as many doughnuts and doughnut holes as you can. Gather the scraps and roll them out again, remembering to rechill the dough to firm them up. Place the cut doughnuts on the other baking sheet; transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes or fridge for 15 to firm up again.
Prepare a paper towel lined plate. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 375 degrees F (test with an instant-read thermometer). Or, if you have one, use a deep frier set to 375 degrees F. Drop 3 or 4 doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute; flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute longer. Test the first doughnut for doneness and adjust your cooking time so you have no wet dough.
When the doughnuts are cool enough to handle but still warm, toss them in the cinnamon sugar then drizzle them with the cider glaze. Serve immediately.