Thursday, December 3, 2009

Apple Cider Donuts

We jumped on the donut making bandwagon right after Halloween. After reading about apple cider donuts on food blogs everywhere, I scoured the city looking for them. Our planned apple picking excursion would have been a great place to find them; alas it was rained out until apple season ended. The Reading Terminal Harvest festival seemed like a sure bet: there was an amish stand selling fresh donuts, but only of the yeast variety. I couldn't take it anymore. One Sunday after a very long wait for a mediocre brunch, my friend Bridget and I decided we were going to adjourn to my kitchen for a donut making session.

I'll take a glazed cake donut over the yeasty kind any day (although I admit a hot krispy kreme is the exception to this rule). Cake donuts also have the advantage of being faster to make, as there is no proofing time needed. I've seen (and made) recipes that call for a long chill of the dough, but this one only needs a short 20 minute rest in the fridge.

This recipe calls for shortening rather then oil or butter, about which Smitten Kitchen made an excellent point: since this fat is solid at room temperature, it makes the end product less greasy feeling and tasting. I would love to try these glazed- we finished ours with cinnamon and sugar (which really is nothing to complain about).

Paul insisted on photographing these next to a roaring fire- I guess to make it seem cozy and fall like.

Apple Cider Donuts

1 cup apple cider

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 (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening (see my explanation in the post) for frying

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.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to 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.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top 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 two concentric round cutters, cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)

Add enough oil or shortening 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°F*. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

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 for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. After allowing excess oil to drain, place doughnuts into a plastic or paper bag in which you have placed cinnamon sugar. Shake gently, remove, eat.


SUGAR B said...

Did someone say DONUTS?!!!

Lele said...

Completely agree cake>yeasty. There is no contest. There is nothing on earth that has the sublime texture of a cake donut (which is... a mixed blessing, I spose, as that texture comes from deep frying!)