|Spiced Cider Doughnuts - recipe in post|
I don't usually buy 'donuts'. The dry and sugary mess at places like Dunkin' D's... just don't cut it for me. Every once and awhile I go to a local bakery and get a nice French Cruller, or Beignet - but chances are you won't find me perusing the goods of a Tim Horton's, or pressing my nose against the glass at Krispy Kreme.
Then there's that rare exception. In fall, a magical thing happens - pumpkins and apples hit the shelves, and local cider mills open for business. In Michigan, this here is the season for Spiced Cider Doughnuts.
Now, I've never made doughnuts before, so I went recipe hunting. I know a lot of people are doing baked doughnuts these days, but the way I see it, doughnuts are cake (or, American cake style doughnuts like these are cake) and I can eat cake whenever I want. Also, I shouldn't have any excuse for thinking they're healthy. They aren't. Also also, I don't have a doughnut pan. Can somebody remedy this for me, please?
Where was I? Right, I went recipe hunting. It didn't take me long to stumble across this recipe from Hearth restaurant, in New York - I've never been, but the murmurs I hear are enough to make my mouth water. They serve their Cider Doughnuts with a glaze, and lightly sweetened whipped cream... but for nostalgia's sake, I rolled mine in cinnamon sugar, just like my local cider mill does.
Recipe note: there's a debate going on about the best oil to use for doughnut frying. Traditionally, doughnuts are fried in oils that are solid at room temperature - i.e., trans-fatty shortenings - because once the donuts have cooled, the oil solidifies and appears less greasy. Other's say they swear by using vegetable, canola, or safflower oil. I chose to use canola for my doughnuts, and found it worked perfectly with no excess greasiness. For a 'better' solid-at-room-temperature fat you can use palm kernel oil, or coconut oil.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Recipe adapted from Hearth Restaurant, NY
Makes approx. 20 doughnuts and doughnut holes
1 cup apple cider (plain or spiced)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
pinch of cloves
4 TBSP (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Oil, for frying (see recipe note)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 TBSP ground cinnamon
1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer the apple cider until it has reduced to about 1/4 cup. This should take about 20-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Set aside
3. Using an electric mixer (with a paddle attachment if you have one) beat the butter and sugars together until smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each is well incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as needed. Reduce speed to low and add in the buttermilk and the reduced apple cider until just combined. Then add the flour mixture, and continue to mix until the dough just comes together into a ball.
4. Line a couple baking sheets with parchment paper, and dust them thoroughly with flour. Turn the dough out onto one of the sheets, and sprinkle a little more flour on top. Press the dough out until it is about 1/2 inch thick, then place the sheet in the freezer and chill until slightly firm, about 20-30 minutes. When flattening the dough, I suggest over-estimating 1/2 inch rather than under-estimating. Some of my doughnuts were on the thin side, which caused them to cook too quickly, resulting in dry interiors.
5. Once the dough has chilled, cut out the doughnuts. You can use a doughnut cutter if you have one, or use a 3inch round cutter and 1inch round cutter, like I did. Place the cut out doughnuts and doughnut holes on the second parchment-lined sheet. Re-roll any scraps of dough to make more. Place the cut doughnuts and holes in the fridge and chill for another 20-30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, get your oil going. Be sure to use enough oil or shortening to measure about 3 inches deep. Attache a thermometer to the side of the pot and heat over medium until the oil reaches 350f. Line a plate or tray with a few paper towels, and set aside.
7. In a shallow dish, mix together the sugar and cinnamon coating. Set aside.
8. Fry the doughnuts just a few at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan. Adding too many doughnuts at once may cause them to steam each other, and will also lower the oil temperature too quickly. Keep an eye on the thermometer and be sure to return the oil to 350f. if it varies.
Fry the doughnuts for approx. 50-60 seconds, or until golden brown. Carefully flip the doughnuts (chopsticks work well, here) and fry the other side until golden, another 30-50 seconds. Drain the doughnuts on the paper towels for a minute or two before rolling in the cinnamon sugar topping.
9. Serve fresh with a hot mug of spiced cider, or a cup of tea or coffee. Enjoy!