Let me start off by saying that I have never liked doughnuts. When I was a kid, and someone in my class had a birthday they would always bring doughnuts to share with everyone. I never took one. Even the thought of them made me ill. Strange then, that I would want to make doughnuts, is it not?
It was kind of a passing whim until I saw apple cider doughnuts. As soon as I saw them, I remembered that there was one doughnut I really loved. It was my junior year of college, and my roommate had gone to a local orchard - I went to school in New York state, where apple orchards abound. When she came back to our room, she had a doughnut made fresh at the orchard. An apple cider doughnut. I had never heard of such a thing, and even though I was not a fan of the doughnut, I was convinced to take a bite. It was delicious. Unlike any other doughnut I had ever had. So, when I saw a recipe for apple cider doughnuts, I knew I had found the one I was going to make.
So, the doughnuts. I had no idea when I set out to make them that I would be destroying my kitchen in the process - there is a film of oil and sugar on the floor, every surface is coated in flour, it is a disaster. I say is, because as I'm writing this, I'm hoping it will magically clean itself. In case you're thinking about trying these out, don't say I didn't warn you.
The recipe is straightforward, though my dough was unbelievably sticky. I added an additional 1/2 cup of flour and it was still sticky. I used a huge amount of flour on my hands, the wooden board I turned my dough on to, and I dipped my cutters in flour before each cut. It pretty much did the trick, though I'm not sure why it was so sticky in the first place.
I don't deep fry. I'm not sure I could even tell you the last time I deep fried anything or if there is a last time. After making these doughnuts, it is clear that my frying skills leave something to be desired. Firstly, they browned much more quickly than the recipe stated and it took several tries before I figured out the balance between over and under-cooked.
These were definitely the best doughnuts I've ever eaten, though the apple flavor is not terribly prominent. I was planning on adding finely diced apples to the dough until I had the sticky problem. I didn't want to add any more moisture, so I nixed them.
I like the idea of homemade doughnuts, but I think next time I'll make the baked variety and spare my floor.
1 cup apple cider
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup of butter (softened)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 1/2-4 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
oil for frying
1 cup cinnamon-sugar for coating fried doughnuts
Boil cider until it reduces to 1/4 cup, then add it to buttermilk and allow it to cool completely. Mix 3 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, and mix until blended. Add buttermilk mixture, blend until incorporated. Add flour mixture gradually, until just incorporated. If dough seems overly sticky, add additional 1/2 cup of flour. Turn dough out on a well floured board, knead it a few times to make sure ingredients are well-mixed. Pat into a 1/2 inch thick circle. Using a 3" round cutter, cut as many circles as you can. Cut smaller hole in center. Set aside centers to make doughnut holes, or collect them along with dough around the larger circles, form a ball, flatten to 1/2 inch and repeat the cutting of doughnuts. Heat oil to 375 in a high-sided pan or dutch oven. When oil is hot, place as many doughnuts/holes as will fit into pan without crowding them. Allow the doughnuts to brown, then turn them over and brown the other side. Remove them from the oil and set them on a paper towel. When all of the doughnuts are fried, coat them in the cinnamon sugar mixture and serve. Doughnuts are best eaten the day they are made.