As I said in my “C is for Cider Donuts” contribution to the 2012 Autumn A-Z package:
Visit an apple orchard this fall and you’re just as likely to see folks munching on golden-brown apple-cider doughnuts as you are actual apples. Beyond the standard cake doughnut, cider doughnuts have apple cider added right into the batter, lending a touch of sweetness and a subtle cider tang that most people find dangerously addictive.
This year I upped the ante and made a batch of homemade apple cider donuts myself using a recipe from Yankee senior lifestyle editor Amy Traverso’s The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, turning my autumn donut dreams (plus a rough dozen of my family and co-worker’s) into a reality.
Homemade cider donuts start with (what else?) apple cider. Boiled cider lends a stronger flavor, and to make it at home you’ll need to boil 1 1/2 cups of cider down to 1/3 cup before proceeding with the batter, which also gets an extra dose of tang from the addition of buttermilk. The batter (turned dough) will be very soft, so once you start handling it you’ll want to make sure your hands and every surface it comes into contact with are floured.
Even with the flour, you’ll want to send the dough to the freezer or fridge as necessary to keep it chilled and firm for cutting and handling. Also, if you don’t have a traditional donut cutter (who does?), feel free to use two floured concentric biscuit cutters to cut out your donut shapes. Twisting the cutter as you release it will help get a cleaner cut. I kept a small, shallow bowl of flour nearby so I could dip the cutter in it as needed.
Next up is the tricky stage — the frying. I used my large, heavy Dutch oven and it took a gallon of oil to get the correct 3-inches of oil needed for frying. Just try not to think about it…
You’ll want a thermometer here to make sure the oil is hot enough before you start adding the donuts. The kind that clips right onto the pot is best. Once that oil gets hot it’s dangerous and you’ll want to minimize splatter.
Then it’s time to fry up some donuts! Make sure you’ve got plenty of double-layer paper towels nearby to drain off the oil as you remove the donuts from the pot. I used a large slotted spatula to transfer them out and over.
Once the donuts have cooled enough that you can handle them, add a good amount of sugar to a bowl along with a generous few shakes of cinnamon, mix them together, and gave each donut a cinnamon-sugar bath. The donut holes you can roll in the sugar, but for the large donuts just settle them into the bowl, twist them, then flip and repeat.
Of course, you could skip making the donut holes by repeatedly re-rolling the dough and only frying the circles, but sometimes a 2-bite donut hole is exactly the right amount of sugar and grease, so they’re good to have on hand.
Finally, homemade cider donuts taste best when eaten on the day they’re made, or within 24 hours, so make sure you’ve got family and friends to share them with! I know my Yankee co-workers were glad to help me out…I bet yours would, too.
Happy apple cider donut season!