Spiced cider doughnuts are a little old-fashioned bit of sweetness. Maybe not old-fashioned, but nostalgic for sure. A tender, buttermilk doughnut gets a healthy dose of apple cider and nutmeg before being dunked in that sweet vanilla glaze. Excuse us while we hide in a corn maze and stuff our faces.
If you don’t have actual memories of idyllic autumn mornings spent driving along two-lane highways with fog hanging low beneath trees colored crimson and rust, stopping at every farm stand for cider doughnuts, this recipe is certain to compensate for that.–Rick Rodgers
WHAT CAN I USE INSTEAD OF A DONUT CUTTER?
A doughnut cutter is pretty specialized, so not everyone will have one. But if you’re a regular baker, you might already have things on hand that you can use. A large circle cutter (or even a drinking glass) with a diameter between 3-3 1/2 inches can be used for the outside ring. A small circle cutter (or the base of a large pastry tip) with a diameter of at least 1/2 inch can be used for the inner ring–any smaller and it might close over during frying. Don’t be tempted to leave out that middle cut-out, either. Doughnuts with an intact middle won’t cook all the way through, leaving you with a gooey, raw surprise.
Spiced Cider Doughnuts
- doughnut cutter 3 inches in diameter, deep-frying thermometer
- 1 cup apple cider
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus more for the work surface
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter cold, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Canola oil for deep-frying
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
- In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the cider to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, 8 to 10 minutes or so, depending on the size of the pan. Cool completely.
- In a large bowl, sift together the 3 1/4 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the butter and, 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 the dough out onto a lightly 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 1/2-inch thickness. Freeze until slightly firm, 15 minutes.
- In a heavy, deep saucepan, pour oil to a depth of at least 3 inches. Heat over high heat to 350°F (176°C) on a deep-frying thermometer. Set a large wire rack on another rimmed baking sheet and place it near the stove.
- Cut out as many doughnuts as possible with the doughnut cutter, dipping the cutter in flour before each cut and pressing it straight down into the dough, and lifting it straight up. Move them and the holes to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Gather the scraps and repeat the 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, turning them once at the halfway point, until golden brown, about 3 minutes total. Using a wire skimmer, transfer the doughnuts 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 total. Let cool.
- In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the remaining 1/4 cup reduced cider to a boil. Add the confectioners’ sugar and whisk until smooth. Immediately remove from the heat. Holding a 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 the doughnut on the wire rack, glazed side up, and let stand until the glaze is set, about 10 minutes. Repeat with the remaining doughnuts and doughnut holes. Devour while warm or at room temperature.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This recipe produces doughnuts that are better than any I have had, from Vermont to the northern Connecticut farmstands. If you don’t have the means to grind fresh nutmeg, please go out and buy a Microplane or some other specialty micro grinder for the whole pod. That is truly, truly the essence of these addictive little gems.
These are not yeast donuts, and that’s an important distinction. Doughnuts leavened with egg and bicarbonate produce a heartier crust and an amazing crumb, perfect for a spiced doughnut that you want to really taste. Some testing tips: First, you should use a doughnut cutter. Removing the right proportion from the center (the hole) is important to the overall doneness of the doughnut. The center will be raw otherwise.
Also, 350ºF degrees is a little hot. I lowered the temperature to 325ºF. I was then able to cook the donuts a little longer, developing a rich, deep brown on the outside, which also gave the doughnut time to cook fully through. This doughnuts’ composition fully complements a very rich, deep brown crispiness on the outside. For me, that’s the best part.
Originally published December 19, 2011