I love donuts. I was very happy when a couple of years ago, they became the It Food and stores and even entire businesses solely dedicated to donuts opened up. There were the typical fried round ones in all sorts of flavours, and some of my favourites were when I went into work in the Mile End and someone had dropped by with a bag full of juniper-honey donuts from the belated Café Sardine. Others were round and filled, like the ones with lemon curd at Lawrence that got me hooked onto their brunch back around 2011. And sometimes, when M and I have family stuff on the South Shore, we stop by Krispy Kreme to get a fresh original donut (okay, mine always has sprinkles because it’s obviously better).
I started making my own baked donuts at home last fall, when my friend Emily graciously lent me her donut pan (Emily, I think I still have it, sorry!). They gave birth to donuts that resembled those that Homer Simpson loves, cat-shaped ones, and bunny-shaped ones.
So when a few of weeks ago another friend asked me to make cider donuts with her, I wholeheartedly said yes. The recipe we ended up using was complicated though. It required homemade apple butter, was surprisingly not quite sweet enough, and its spice-laden glaze turned off her kids. Unsatisfied, I went to figure out a better recipe for apple cider donuts.
At first bite you get the crunch of cinnamon sugar, glued to the donut with a slathering of browned butter. Inside is a soft, just-spiced batter with chunks of apple. Basically, my kind of apple cider donut, and I hope it will be yours too. Try a batch for when you’re watching your favourite scary movie or handing out candy tonight, and let me know what you think.
Apple cider donuts
Makes around 9 mini donuts, or 6 regular-sized ones. Adapted from Joy the Baker.
- 1 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. ginger
- 1/3 c. brown sugar
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/4 c. cider
- 1/4 c. milk of your choice
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1/2 c. finely chopped apple
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
First, brown the butter by placing it in a small saucepan on medium-low heat. As it melts, small brown bits will form on the bottom of the pan. When you get these brown bits and the butter smells fragrant and nutty, remove it from the heat.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease your donut pan using a pastry brush and a bit of the browned butter.
In a small bowl, mix together the cider and the milk and set it aside to let the milk sour.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and soda, spices, and brown sugar. Break up any clumps of brown sugar there may be.
Back to the small bowl, add in the egg, vanilla, and only 2 tbsp. of the browned butter. Whisk to mix all of the ingredients well.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until there is just a bit of dry flour left. Add the finely chopped apple and use a spatula or spoon to mix it in, until everything is just combined and no more dry flour is visible.
Use a small spoon to spread the batter into each donut cavity, smoothing out the tops. Put into the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the tester comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.
While the donuts are baking and cooling, mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a wide bowl for dipping the donuts. When the donuts are completely cooled, use the pastry brush to slather each donut in browned butter, then roll it around in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to coat. Best when eaten the day of, but will keep a couple of days in a closed container.
Try to use a tart and harder variety of apple that will hold its shape, such as Empire or Granny Smith.
For the sugar, I really prefer organic cane sugar. I find that it is just a little bit more caramel-y in flavour for coating the donuts.