Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Homemade Apple Cider Doughnuts on a String

Growing up it was an annual fall tradition to make the trip to Eberly's Orchard, near my grandparents' house in North Liberty, Indiana. Don Eberly was my mother's school bus driver, and ran an orchard and cider mill on his family farm. I have such fond memories of walking into the barn and watching the apples go up a long conveyor belt to be pressed into cider that would come out fresh from the spout and into tiny Dixie cups for sampling. While no orchard can quite compare to the one of my childhood nostalgia, I consider it a necessary autumn ritual to make a trip to a nearby orchard with friends.

While Eberly's didn't have doughnuts that I can recall (I'd likely remember if they did), I got used to them as orchard treat from my time in Michigan and Vermont. When I moved to North Carolina, I was shocked that I couldn't find apple cider donuts anywhere, so I started making my own. In the past few years, they've become a staple for backyard shows, brunches, and Halloween parties. 

Apple Orchard

I use smitten kitchen's recipe, adapted only slightly, the main difference being that I like to add a little cardamom to my dough and to the sugar coating. Getting the hang of frying can be tricky at first if you've never tried it-- don't be afraid to sample the first few to make sure you're hitting the sweet spot of a little crisp on the outside while still soft and cakey on the inside. 

Homemade Apple Cider Donuts in box

Apple Cider Doughnuts
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 1 1/2 dozen, depending on size

1 cup apple cider
3 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 scant teaspoon cinnamon + 1 1⁄2 Tablespoon additional for topping
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar + 1 cup additional for topping
2 large eggs
1⁄2 c. buttermilk
A lot of veggie oil for frying

1. Pour apple cider into a medium-sized saucepan, and over medium heat, bring cider to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low so the cider is gently simmering. Let simmer about 30 minutes until it has reduced to about 1⁄4 c. set aside and let cool.

2. In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients except for sugar and extra cinnamon and set aside.

3. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs, beating after each addition. Once the mixture is well-combined, reduce the speed to low and add the reduced apple cider and buttermilk, beating until just incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix until the dough is well-combined, smooth, and begins to come together in a ball.

4. On a cookie sheet lined with floured parchment paper, roll out the dough to about 1⁄2-inches thick. Move the dough and paper to a cookie sheet and put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. Once the dough has firmed up in the freezer, remove and cut with a doughnut cutter (or ball jar and a shot glass). Place the doughnuts onto another cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Once you’ve cut all the doughnuts, place them in the fridge for about 20 minutes while you prepare your oil.

5. Now before we get to any hot grease situation, make sure you are wearing closed-toed shoes and are properly clothed—hot oil can be dangerous so be careful!  Using a pot or pan with tall sides, pour in enough veggie oil to reach a depth of approximately 3-inches. Put a candy thermometer in the side of the pan and slowly heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees F.

6. Meanwhile, prepare your post fry set-up: stack a few layers of paper towels on a plate for doughnut blotting. Mix the 1 cup sugar and 1 1⁄2 Tablespoon cinnamon (I like to add a pinch of cardamom too) together in a wide shallow bowl and set aside.

7. Now you're ready to fry. Add a few doughnuts at a time (3-4) to the hot oil and fry until they turn golden brown (this may take some testing and sampling), approximately 1 minute. Flip the doughnuts over and fry the other side for about 30 seconds-1 minute. Use a metal slotted spoon to remove the doughnuts from the grease and blot them on the paper towels. Then dip them into the cinnamon-sugar. 

8. Though tempting to eat right away (and you should definitely eat them while fresh and warm) try stringing the doughnuts using a sturdy rope or twine and tie them up, like a hammock, between two trees or posts. Challenge your pals to eat them from the string, no hands. Just a way to make a party that already has doughnuts, even better.

Apple Cider Doughnuts on a string

Related recipes:
Apple Galette
Apple Pie with Salted Caramel Glaze
Apple Slump
Cardamom Doughnut Muffins


Kat said...

Yum, I am going to make these, thank you! Your site is making me soo hungry.

emily said...

Thanks, Kat!

Matthew said...

Could a quality hard cider be used for this recipe? Good cider is not always available, but hard cider lasts longer. Thinking JK Scrumpy's. I know the alcohol would evaporate, so would I need to up the liquid a bit?

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