I had one cooking goal this fall. Well, one that’s specific to this fall anyway: to make apple cider donuts. I absolutely adore them, and it’s one of those treats that I buy every year. Why I haven’t made them, I don’t know. I’ve made pumpkin donuts before, and they aren’t hard… they just make a ton of donuts.
So this past weekend, I set out to make my donuts. I was originally going to make the traditional round donuts with the holes in them until I realized that I prefer eating the little “holes” and that the round donuts are not my friend. Yes, this is an easy recipe – and I made it dairy free so Little Miss could enjoy it, but it wasn’t originally so (see notes for the changes).
I’ve shared them with several of my friends, and I have half the recipe sitting in my fridge to make later today. They’re awesome. And fun. And oh what a special treat, right?
Apple Cider Donuts
2 c apple cider
1 c sugar
1/4 c butter, room temperature (or butter substitute for dairy free)
1/2 c buttermilk (or rice/soy/coconut milk with about 2 T mayonnaise – trust me)
3 1/2 c flour
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
3/4 t cinnamon
3/4 t salt
1/2 t nutmeg
Additional sugar and cinnamon for rolling post frying
Reduce the apple cider. This will take about a half hour or more, and you can do it in advance then stick it in the fridge for when you’re ready to make donuts. My husband also decided this was a really good topping for ice cream. Just sayin’. Boil the apple cider until it’s reduced to about 1/4 cup. It will be slightly thicker and much darker than when it started, but don’t burn it.
When you’re ready to make the donuts themselves, measure out the butter and place it into a mixing bowl. Personally, I love using my special liquid/dry measuring cup for items like butter that tend to stick in a regular measuring cup – honey, mayonnaise, etc are much easier in this, too.
Beat the butter with the sugar, just like your normal baking recipe. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well until combined. Add the reduced cider and buttermilk, and beat again. Add the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg, then mix until fully incorporated.
At about this point, you’ll want to start heating your oil. You want a wide pan, deep enough to hold a couple inches of oil. Heat on medium high to 350 degrees.
While the oil is heating, add the flour and stir until just combined. Flour your working surface with extra flour, and pull out a clump of dough. Carefully roll it in the flour until you can work with it and create a snake like you did in kindergarten with clay. Using a knife or a board scraper, cut off half inch sections of dough.
When you think the oil is hot enough, drop in a test dough ball. You want it to immediately start bubbling around your dough. If it doesn’t, your oil isn’t hot enough. Pull it out, and try again in a few minutes.
Place several donuts at a time, but be sure there is plenty of room for them to move and expand. They will take only a minute or so to fry on each side before you need to flip them over. A fork or slotted spoon or chopstick works perfectly for this.
While they are frying on the first side, prepare your finishing station. On a cookie sheet, place a wire rack. Atop the wire rack, lay paper towels so that the grease can fully drain from the donuts. Prepare a bowl with 1 c sugar and 2 t cinnamon to roll your donuts in after they’ve drained for a few minutes.
Now you’re ready to start the assembly line. Fry a few, flip. Add some more while the first ones are frying on their second side. You’ll know they’re ready to flip when the bubbles start reaching the top of the donut and the sides are a beautiful golden brown.
Pull them out with a slotted spoon when they’re done, and add some more. Let the donuts cool and drain for a few minutes before rolling them in the cinnamon sugar and placing them on a separate plate. Keep frying, rolling more donuts, flipping, and draining until the donut dough is all gone.
The donuts are awesome still warm, but they will keep in a tightly sealed container with a paper towel under them once they’ve cooled for up to three days. If they last that long. If you don’t want to make all your donuts at once, you can refrigerate your dough for a couple days. Make sure you bring it to room temperature – or close – before you fry them, though. If batter is too cold, it will absorb the grease before frying and will be a much heavier and not as yummy donut.