I'm going to throw these doughnuts in the middle of my Thanksgiving series, well because they're pretty amazing and I wanted to post them before I forgot about them. As most people know, I usually only make yeast based donuts and I make a lot of them. There's just not much that can compare with the light, airy goodness of a yeast donut. These Spiced Cider Donuts will be a close second though.
If I had to encapsulate fall into one dessert, this would be it. You get your traditional fall flavors of cinnamon and nutmeg and then you take apple cider and cook it down until it's a concentrated punch of flavor. The buttermilk in them ensures that they are nice and moist and the end result is a perfectly crisp exterior that opens up to this perfect apple cinnamon flavor.
Spiced Cider Donuts
1 cup apple cider
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, thinly sliced
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Canola oil for deep-frying
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
In a small saucepan, bring the cider to a boil over high heat. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. In a bowl, sift together the 3 1/4 cups flour, the granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Add the butter. Using a handheld mixer on low speed, beat until the mixture forms fine crumbs. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, 1/4 cup of the reduced cider and the vanilla until combined. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute, adding up to 1/4 cup more flour if needed. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and pat it out to a layer 1/2 inch thick. Freeze until slightly firm, 15 minutes.
Heat a deep-fryer to 350°F or pour oil to a depth of at least 3 inches into a heavy, deep saucepan and heat over high heat to 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Set a large wire rack on another rimmed baking sheet and place near the stove. Return the dough to the work surface. Using a doughnut cutter 3 inches in diameter, and dipping the cutter into flour before each cut, cut out as many doughnuts as possible, pressing straight down and lifting straight up. Transfer the doughnuts and the holes to the parchment paper–lined baking sheet. Gather up the scraps and repeat rolling and cutting.
Using a metal spatula, carefully lower a few of the doughnuts into the hot oil, being sure not to crowd the pan. Deep-fry the doughnuts, turning them once at the halfway point, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Using a wire skimmer, transfer to the rack to drain. Repeat until all of the doughnuts have been fried, then add the doughnut holes to the oil and deep-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Let cool.
To make the glaze, in a small saucepan, bring the remaining 1/4 cup reduced cider to a boil over high heat. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat. Holding each doughnut or doughnut hole by its edges, briefly dip it, smooth side down, into the glaze, letting the excess drip back into the saucepan. Place on the wire rack, glazed side up, and let stand until the glaze is set, about 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 1 dozen doughnuts and 1 dozen holes.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Comfort Food, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2009).