Apple Cider Doughnuts | October 19, 2015

Autumn in New England is magical.  The leaves change into the most stunning array of yellows, oranges, and reds in every shade and nuance you could imagine.  If you have never gone to Northern New England in October, put it on your list.  No matter how good the fall leaves are where you live, you haven’t seen anything yet! The light starts changing too in mid September, the air gets crisper, and the whole state of New Hampshire smells faintly of wood fires.

In my family growing up, we did a lot of hiking and apple picking in the fall.  In the last few weeks, I have gotten lots of family photos (especially with some new little ones experiencing their first true autumn) of leaves and apples.

However, my brother is a gloater.

He lives down the street from this amazing family run farm called Applecrest Farm on the seacoast in New Hampshire.   It is the oldest and largest continuously orchard of its kind in the U.S.  He goes blueberry picking in the summer and apple picking in the fall.  He gloats about his access to the bakery at Applecrest because they make THE BEST apple cider doughnuts. (One of my favorite things they make.) This is another New England Fall tradition.  They have this aroma when they are warm unlike any other fall treat.  It is like apple pie, gingersnaps, and fresh doughnuts all mixed into one perfect fall breath.
http://www.applecrest.com/

He sends me pictures of them.

It’s cruel.

Today, I turned the evil table on him and made Apple Cider doughnuts in my kitchen!  In your face!  Ok, that’s a little over the top but I was kind of proud of my first doughnut attempt.  I have always been intimidated by frying.  After doing it though – it was a cinch!  Being prepared (timing is super important) and having the right equipment was key to the success of my doughnut venture.
The recipe I used is from smitten kitchen.com (thanks!)because I trust her and because she knows her apple cider doughnuts.  (I will need to investigate if she is from New England) I have a few tips though that I have gathered along the way:

1. Do not over mix the dough.

2. Use plenty of flour.

3. Have layers of paper towels on hand to replace out as you go.

4. Instead of a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil, use a brown paper grocery bag and paper towels.  Less clean up and the oil will absorb into the bag.

5.  I prepared the cinnamon sugar in a small brown paper bag just like the doughnut pros in Pike Place Market do and it worked great unless you get super over zealous and don’t know your own shaking strength – just saying 🙂

6. I used both Tovolo® Tip Top Tongs to flip the doughnuts in the oil and a Tovolo® Silicone Slotted Spoon because they both have silicone heads I didn’t need to worry about the hot oil disfiguring my kitchen tools. Boo!

7. As I said before – Be Prepared.  Have the bag of cinnamon sugar ready to go before you start making doughnuts.  Have the paper bag and paper towels near where you are frying so you don’t need to walk anywhere with a hot, oil dripping doughnut.  Have your tongs or slotted spoon next to the stove.

APPLE CIDER DOUGHNUTS

YIELDS Varies  |  PREP TIME 1.5 Hours  |  COOK TIME 1 Minute  |  PRINT PDF

INGREDIENTS

Dough

1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening (see my explanation in the post) for frying

Toppings (Optional)

Glaze (1 cup confectioners’ sugar + 2 tablespoons apple cider)

Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)

DIRECTIONS

Make the doughnuts: In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth.

Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or Tovolo® Baking Mat and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still wet.

Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes.

Pull the dough out of the freezer.

Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole from a set like this, as I did — cut out doughnut shapes.

Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)

Add enough oil or shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F*.

Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels (this is where I used the brown paper bag).

Make toppings (if using): While the cut doughnut shapes are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside.

Fry and top the doughnuts: Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

Bake and finish cakes: Heat oven to 375°F (190°C). Remove towels, place each loaf on the middle rack of your oven. Bake for 30 minutes, but there’s no harm in checking for doneness at 25 minutes. A skewer inserted into an underbaked babka will feel stretchy/rubbery inside and may come back with dough on it. When fully baked, you’ll feel almost no resistance. If you babka needs more time, put it back, 5 minutes at a time then re-test. If it browns too quickly, you can cover it with foil.
While babkas are baking, make syrup: Bring sugar and water to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and set aside to cool somewhat. As soon as the babkas leave the oven, brush the syrup all over each. It will seem like too much, but will taste just right — glossy and moist. Let cool about halfway in pan, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool the rest of the way before eating (an adorable suggestion from Ottolenghi — don’t worry, we know you’re going to eat it warm).