If you live in the Northeast, you probably participate in a fall tradition that’s unlike the rest of the nation: After Labor Day, you must take a road trip to the nearest apple orchard to pick a peck (or a whopping, 40-pound bushel) of the legendary fruit known to keep doctors away when eaten every day.
To an outsider (i.e., Nate and me), it sounds out-there at first. You want to go to a farm and pick apples all day? And pay to do so? But then you head out on a crisp, cool day, you see the rows of gala- and Golden Delicious-speckled trees, and an inexplicable glee sweeps over you. This is FUN. So. Much. Fun. Because you can freely sample any apples you want, you can throw them over your shoulder while maniacally shouting, “DEEELICIOUS!”, you can…well, you get the idea.
But the true highlight of the trip isn’t the apple-noshing or the hay rides or the ubiquitous petting zoo with far too many goats.
It’s the apple cider doughnuts.
I returned from the orchard daydreaming about these doughnuts. Forget cravings — I was mourning their absence when I was still chewing my last bite. So when we got home, I set aside my 10 pounds of apples…and made a treat that didn’t require a single one. Because let’s be real: I’m too lazy to make my own cider then my own doughnuts.
You can use store-bought apple cider, and while you could technically skip simmering the cider so it reduces down to half its size (and just pour in 1/2 cup of regular cider), I wouldn’t recommend it. The reduced cider is thicker and the flavor is so much more concentrated that every bite is a glorious celebration of apple-cinnamon goodness.
Since these are baked, the cinnamon-sugar topping doesn’t stick to the doughnuts like it does with the fried version. To really get that flavor, melt a tablespoon of butter and use a pastry brush (or a folded-up paper towel) to lightly brush on a little butter, then drop it into a resealable bag filled with cinnamon sugar and shake, shake, shake señora.
Your taste buds will be glad you did.
Baked Cinnamon Sugar Apple Cider Doughnuts Recipe:
- 1½ cups apple cider
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1½ cups flour
- 1½ cups sugar (1 cup for topping, ½ cup for doughnut batter)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
- 3 tablespoons butter (set aside 1 tablespoon for the end of the recipe)
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- Boil apple cider for 15 minutes, or until it's reduced in half. Set aside and let cool.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, if you're using a doughnut pan, or turn on your mini doughnut maker, if using an electric machine.
- In a large bowl, mix baking powder, salt, flour, ½ cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.
- Put two tablespoons butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 20-second intervals until fully melted. Add the reduced cider and put it in the fridge for 5-7 minutes to cool, then add in the egg and egg yolk. Stir thoroughly, then add to the flour mixture, mixing just enough to combine everything.
- Pour batter into a plastic resealable bag and cut off one corner so you can easily fill each round of the doughnut tray. Fill each one halfway with batter. Cook 3-4 minutes if using a doughnut maker, or bake for 9-10 minutes if using a doughnut tray in the oven.
- In the second resealable plastic bag, pour remaining cup of sugar and teaspoon of cinnamon. Shake to combine.
- Let the doughnuts cool 2-3 minutes. As they cool, melt remaining tablespoon butter. Brush doughnuts with butter, then place them one by one into the resealable bag, giving it a good shake to coat the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar.