Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
I had never heard of cider doughnuts until my first visit to my in-laws in central Massachusetts, but it became clear from the very first utterance that they were something very special. Joseph and his brother, Mark, were talking about cider doughnuts like they were just about the best thing on Earth. I nodded and smiled and played along, but the truth was, I had no idea what they were talking about.
Since moving to Boston four and a half years ago, I have had many, many cider doughnuts and I know how seriously New Englanders take them! Every fall families, couples, and friends hit the apple orchards, but they’re not just there to pick apples. Some of the orchards have petting zoos, corn mazes, playgrounds, but as far as I know, all of them sell cider doughnuts. They can be made a few different ways, but generally they’re doughnuts made with cider in them, dunked in a cider glaze, and coated in sugar and cinnamon.
A couple of years ago Joseph and I started a cider doughnut tour of the Boston area, seeking out the best cider doughnuts. The very first orchard we went to, we stood in a long line, placed our order, and waited for our names to be called. When they finally called my name half an hour later, I waded through the crowd of people anxiously waiting for their doughnuts, feeling like I had just won the lottery. That’s me! Me! Those are my doughnuts! When I took my first bite of a piping hot cider doughnut, I suddenly understood why people were willing to wait an hour for these doughnuts and why so many people were ordering multiple bags, each filled with a baker’s dozen. We felt a little silly with our little bag of six, but that didn’t stop us from enjoying them.
But it’s no secret that doughnuts aren’t exactly the healthiest of treats, so I was super excited to find this recipe from King Arthur Flour for baked cider doughnuts. I found it, or it found me, when Joseph and I went to the King Arthur Flour store last August and a photo of these gorgeous doughnuts stared out at me from the cover of their monthly catalog. Yup, I was that sucker that picked up every single unusual ingredient (hi-maize fiber anyone?) the recipe called for in the store (don’t worry, I’ll tell you how to work around them). I had to make those doughnuts and nothing was going to stop me! And it was totally worth it! Not only were these delicious, they’re fun to make.
The recipe makes six doughnuts and we were initially planning on putting the cider glaze on all of them, but we used my favorite honey in the glaze which didn’t turn out that well. It turns out that what makes that honey so great – a very strong, distinct honey taste – made the glaze taste like nothing but honey, which is great except that it was supposed to taste like cider. Again, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered (just use a mild honey or corn syrup). Because the honey flavor was so strong, we also tried them plain and coated in cinnamon and sugar. Honestly, our favorite was the cinnamon and sugar, partially because the glaze is kind of sticky and sweet, but also because it’s just really tasty. Either way, we will be making these again!
Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
If you'd rather coat the doughnuts in cinnamon and sugar (which I highly recommend trying!), try this technique from A Cambridge Story: Brush the doughnuts with cider and coat with a mix of 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. If you go this route, you can skip the glaze below.
The boiled cider is optional (you can use apple concentrate if you'd rather, but make sure to see the note below and add lemon to the glaze) if you don't want to shell out the money for it or make it yourself, but I have to say, it's pretty tasty and is great for salad dressings and it's even great in a glass of seltzer.
For the Doughnuts:
- 2 tablespoons soft butter
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon Vietnamese cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed frozen apple juice concentrate
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup Hi-maize Fiber (optional)
- 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour1/2 cup milk
For the Glaze:
- 3 tablespoons boiled cider or thawed frozen apple juice concentrate*
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup water
To make the doughnuts:
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a standard doughnut pan.
- Beat together the butter, oil, sugar, salt, and spices. Beat in the boiled cider, then the egg. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk together the baking powder, baking soda, Hi-maize (if using), and flour. Stir the flour mixture into the wet ingredients alternately with the milk, beginning and ending with flour. Spoon the batter into the pan, smoothing the tops.
- Bake the doughnuts for 10 to 12 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into one comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool.
To make the glaze:
- Place all the glaze ingredients into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover the pan, and boil for 3 minutes. Remove the cover and boil for a few more minutes, until the syrup reaches soft ball stage, 240°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the heat, and cool slightly.
- Carefully dip the doughnut tops in the warm syrup (reheat the syrup if it's thickened too much) and place on a rack.