Among the highlights of visiting an apple orchard are those hot, crispy apple cider doughnuts. After a day of picking apples, they are a treat. There’s no need to wait until the next apple-picking season to enjoy these fall favorites when you can make your own.
Many recipes call for the doughnuts to be fried. We’re taking a simpler approach with a rich cake batter version, then baking them in specialty pans. They can brushed with butter, then dredged in cinnamon and sugar, or dipped in glaze.
Cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg usually hold court for that nostalgic apple-cider doughnut flavor. You can also consider anise, ginger, allspice, and cardamom. For more depth of flavor, you’ll want to simmer the apple cider into a reduction.
Of course, just like at the apple orchard, the doughnuts are best served warm, or eaten on the same day.
For more apple flavor, reduce 1 cup of fresh apple cider to 1/3 cup by heating in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until it has cooked down to 1/3 cup.
Note: If you don’t have doughnut pans, you can use a muffin tin.
Makes about 2 dozen 2-inch doughnuts
FOR THE DOUGHNUTS
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Zest of 1 lemon
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
⅓ cup apple cider (See headnote)
¼ cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE CINNAMON-SUGAR DIP:
4 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray doughnut pans with nonstick baking spray.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon zest.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Mix on high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
Add the cider, buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix on low speed, then add the flour mixture until well combined.
Transfer the batter to a piping bag or large zipper bag with a corner snipped off, and pipe into the prepared doughnut pans, about 2/3 full.
Bake until the doughnuts spring back, about 10 to 14 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack. Brush with melted butter, then dip in cinnamon sugar. Serve warm.
— Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa by Ina Garten
Vanilla: Whisk 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with 1 teaspoon milk and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract until well combined.