One of my favorite things about living in Virginia is being so close to the mountains. At this time of year, all the leaves are starting to change colors, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Recently, Eric and I took a drive to Charlottesville to spend the day with our friends and attend an apple festival at Carter Mountain Orchard. It was unseasonably hot that day, but we all enjoyed being outside and picked quite a bit of apples. One thing that several of my friends raved about were the apple cider doughnuts there. We each had a doughnut after lunch. I liked mine, but I didn’t love it. I think I expected it to have a stronger apple cider taste. Since we already had apple cider at home (from a different orchard), Eric and I decided to try making our own apple cider doughnuts.
The dough for these comes together pretty quickly. It does need some time to chill before cutting and again before frying, but neither one is too long. Since these are cake doughnuts, there’s no need for rising. The apple cider is reduced before being added to the dough, which I think gives these doughnuts a more concentrated cider flavor. These were much lighter than other cake doughnuts I’ve tried, and I liked that they weren’t heavy or dense. The dough is sticky, so make sure to flour your surfaces and hands when working with it. Chilling it helps make it more manageable. Lightly spiced, these doughnuts taste delicious on their own. Top them with cinnamon sugar or apple cider glaze, and you’re in for a real treat. We made both toppings and had some cinnamon sugar left over, so you can make less if you’re not planning on using it on all the doughnuts.
- YIELD: about 18 doughnuts, plus doughnut holes
1 cup apple cider
3½ cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening, for frying
For the toppings:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider
1 cup granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons cinnamon
In a small saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, reduce the apple cider to about ¼ cup, 20-30 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue mixing until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low and gradually add cider and buttermilk, mixing until just combined. Add flour mixture and mix just until the dough comes together.
Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle generously with flour. Set aside one and turn the dough out onto the other one. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour. Press or roll the dough to ½-inch thickness. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes or refrigerate for an hour (until slightly hardened).
Cut the dough using a doughnut cutter or a 3-inch round cutter and the bottom of a large icing tip. Place the rounds on the second prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Re-roll the scraps, refrigerate briefly, cut and refrigerate again until all the dough is used.
Meanwhile, prepare toppings by whisking together confectioner’s sugar and cider in a small bowl to make glaze. Whisk sugar and cinnamon together in another small bowl. Set aside.
Line a plate with several paper towels and set next to the stove. In a dutch oven or other deep sided pot, add at least 1½ inches of oil. Attach a candy thermometer to the side and heat on medium until the oil reaches 350º. You may have to adjust the heat as the doughnuts are frying in order to maintain a steady temperature.
Add a few doughnuts to the oil and fry for about 60 seconds. Flip and continue to cook another 30-60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for about a minute.
Dip the doughnuts in the glaze or cinnamon sugar. For doughnut holes, simply place in bowl of cinnamon sugar and roll around. Place on a cooling rack if not serving immediately. (These doughnuts are certainly best eaten within a day, but Eric’s coworkers enjoyed them through yesterday.)