Doughnuts look impossible to make, don't they? I think it's because no one really thinks of them as anything other than a quick treat from the 7-11 or Dunkin Donuts or the grocery store (mmm, yeah, tubs of doughnut holes...). Until I started food blogging and obsessively perusing others' sites, I certainly didn't think of doughnuts as something you could make at home. And even when I found out you could, it involved deep frying--something which, until recently, terrified me deeply.
But, here they are. Homemade donuts. And *I* did it! And they were easy (no, really). And they were @$*#in' fantastic.
I know what you're thinking. Heather, apple cider? Really? It's Spring. First of all, this is clearly a Fall treat. Secondly, where do you expect me to find apple cider in April? Well, first--nuts to you! Fall-tastin' treats are good all year round! Secondly, I substituted Mott's Natural Apple Juice for the apple cider, and it worked fabulously. So, there you have it. You no longer have an excuse not to make them right this very minute.
Apple Cider Doughnuts (from Sweet Pea's Kitchen, who got it from the Washington Post)
For the Doughnuts:
-1 cup apple cider or Mott's Natural Apple Juice
-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 butter, at room temperature
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1/2 cup buttermilk
-Vegetable oil for frying
For the Glaze:
-1 cup confectioners’ sugar
-2-4 tablespoons apple cider or Mott's Natural Apple Juice
1. For 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.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. 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.
4. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto 1 of the sheets and sprinkle the top of the dough 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 doughnut cutter or 3 inch biscuit cutter and a 1 inch biscuit cutter, cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Re-roll the scraps of dough and cut additional doughnuts from the dough. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. **NOTE: If you're making these for company, I think you would be safe to make them to this point the night before and remove them for a bit while your oil is heating up the next morning, to take a little chill out.**
5. Add enough oil 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 degrees. Have ready a plate lined with several paper towels.
6. For the glaze: 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. Set aside.
7. To fry and assemble: 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 after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze and serve immediately.
-Makes approximately 12 donuts and holes (though, since I didn't have a doughnut cutter, I had to use a cannoli tube for the center--which is a little too small width-wise. So, I combined doughnut holes to make them larger, leaving me slightly fewer).
Verdict: I think my feelings about these doughnuts were made perfectly clear above. I LOVE THEM. I am completely over storebought doughnuts. They do not even come close to the rich flavor and warmth of homemade ones. I think the word "perfect" was uttered with sugary crumbs spewing from our lips quite often while eating these little miracles.