Apple Cider Donuts
Cider + Donuts = Fall. Am I right? Of course I am.
With a little patience, anyone can make a batch of these amazing donuts. I used the “p” word (patience) because the dough has to be refrigerated for at least 2 hours after you make it and before you can fry it. If you’re planning to eat these donuts for breakfast, I would recommend making the dough the day before and refrigerating it overnight so that you can wake up and fry up some donuts in a short amount of time. If you so desire, you can roll these donuts in cinnamon and sugar, but I honestly preferred them plain because I found them to have just the right amount of sweetness without the need to add any more. I hope you enjoy these donuts as much as my son and I did!
2 ½ cups apple cider
½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter, room temperature
½ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla
Zest of 1 lemon
3 ½ cups flour, more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon allspice
Ingredients for frying:
Oil (I used a mild olive oil)
1 cup sugar (optional)
1 T. cinnamon (optional)
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat cook the cider, stirring occasionally, until it has reduced to about ½ cup. This process should take about 30 minutes. Move the pan off the burner and let the cider reduction cool to room temperature. (Tip: set aside the measuring cup that you use to initially measure the 2 ½ cups of cider so that you can reuse it when you need to measure out the ½ cup of cider reduction.)
Place a piece of parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with about ¼ cup flour, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl, turn the mixer back on low, and add the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl again then add the cider reduction, buttermilk, vanilla, and zest on low speed. In a separate, large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Again with the mixer on low speed add the dry ingredient mixture a cup or so at a time until it has all been incorporated into a sticky dough, which you will transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle a small amount of flour over the top of the dough and press it out into an even ½ inch thickness with your hands. Wrap the dough and baking sheet in plastic wrap and refrigerate for no less than 2 hours, or overnight.
Cut out the donuts by using 3-inch and 1-inch round cookie cutters. Any dough that falls outside of the donut or donut hole shape can also be fried, and you can call these “fritters.”
Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet next to the stove top.
In a medium bowl combine the sugar and cinnamon, if using.
In a large Dutch oven, pour enough oil to cover the bottom 2 ½ to 3 inches of the pan. Heat the oil to 350 degrees, using a food thermometer. (OK, I’m going to be real with you here – I was too lazy to find my food thermometer so I just heated the oil on medium-low heat and everything turned out fine. You can check that the oil is ready by dropping in 1 donut hole as a test and seeing how well it fries. If it takes around a minute to brown the entire donut hole, you’re at the right temperature. If it takes more or less time, adjust the heat setting accordingly.) With extreme care, drop 3 donuts into the oil and fry for about 2 minutes, flipping with a fork around the 1 minute mark. This is an approximation and really you’re looking for a nice golden brown color on both sides before removing from the oil and placing on the wire rack. While still warm, toss the donuts in the sugar and cinnamon mixture, if desired, then return to the wire rack. Continue frying the remaining donuts, donut holes, and fritters. Serve warm.
Yields: 8 donuts and 8 donut holes, plus fritters (number depends on size)