Having lived in the Midwest and New England, apple picking has always been a fall tradition. With apple picking comes apple cider doughnuts. For years, we would travel an hour or so north of Chicago, spend the day picking loads of apples, and bring home several boxes of fresh apple cider doughnuts. As it turns out, they freeze quite well, so we’d stash them away in the freezer for later in the season and heat them up for a treat.
Apple cider doughnuts are nowhere to be found in San Francisco (if you see any, let us know), so we took matters into our own hands last weekend. Making doughnuts at home is easier than we expected, and didn’t make as much of a mess as we were afraid of. Below are our tips for making perfect apple cider doughnuts at home. If you follow the instructions exactly, you can have a stack of fresh doughnuts in less than 2 hours (actual prep and cooking time is less–the dough needs to chill an hour).
Most importantly, use reduced cider. We put two cups of cider in a saucier and set it on the stove over medium heat. Let it boil away until you have less than half the volume of cider you started with. This can be done while you’re measuring out your ingredients, or even done a day or two in advance.
You can make the batter in a big bowl–no need for a mixer. Combine everything except the flour and whisk until smooth. Then add the flour in small additions. Make sure to refrigerate the dough at least an hour.
To save time, you can heat the oil while you shape the dough. Clip a candy thermometer on the side of a low stock pot or dutch oven (cast iron is best for holding the temperature steady). Heat the oil to 375 degrees and adjust the heat to keep the temperature steady.
The dough is really sticky. We found it easiest to dust a piece of parchment with flour, put the dough on top, dust the dough with flour, cover it with another sheet of parchment, then roll it out with a rolling pin between the sheets of parchment. Be sure to turn the dough a few times to make sure it’s not sticking and add extra flour if needed.
- 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating finishing doughnuts
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon, plus more for finishing
- ½ teaspoon allspice
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter (we prefer European butter for baking)
- ¼ cup reduced apple cider (see instructions)
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 3½ cups of all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 bottle of canola oil
- To make reduced apple cider, pour two cups of fresh apple cider into a saucier. Simmer over medium heat until the cider is reduced by at least half.
- Melt the ¼ cup of butterin a small saucepan (or microwave safe bowl in the microwave).
- In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of sugar, baking powder, salt, 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, and allspice. Combine with a whisk. Then add the eggs, melted butter, reduced cider, and buttermilk. Whisk until the mixture is smooth.
- One cup at a time, add 3½ cups of flour, mixing well between each addition. After the second cup of flour, you may need to switch from a whisk to a spatula. Mix until well combined, then turn out the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap tightly, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- The dough will be sticky, so be sure to have enough flour on hand to use as needed. Dust a sheet of parchmentpaper with flour and turn the dough out onto the paper. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour, then top with another sheet of parchment, and roll out to ½" thick. Be sure to turn the dough several times to make sure it's not sticking to the parchment paper.
- Using two round cutters approx. 3" and 1" or a doughnut cutter, cut out the doughnuts, reserving the rings and center holes separately. Return to the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To finish the doughnuts, heat 2 -3" of oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven until it reaches 375F degrees. Once the oil comes to temperature, add the doughnuts in batches, 3-4 in each batch. Cook for one minute, then flip the doughnuts. They should take around 2 minutes total. Remove the doughnuts with a skimmer or slotted spoon to a sheet pan fitted with a cooling rack or lined with paper towels. When cool enough to handle, hand roll the doughnuts in a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Be sure to allow the oil to return to 375F degrees between batches. Cook the doughnut holes in the same manner.
- Allow doughnuts to cool slightly and serve immediately.