Back home in Indiana (insert humming here…) there is a local orchard that sells amazing apple spice doughnuts, hot from the fryer and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Such a treat after picking apples, exploring the orchard, or just because they are really, REALLY good! So when Zak and I ventured to the Hood River Valley “Fruit Loop” we looked for these doughnuts at every farm/orchard we visited. They were nowhere to be found. No one had even heard of anyone selling them. Despite how much fun we had, I developed a serious craving for apple doughnuts. So, I decided to make my own.
I explored several recipes for apple doughnuts, knowing I wanted one that packed a serious apple punch. I didn’t really find one that I thought would be fantastic… One odd thing I did notice, though, was that several of the recipes I came across used boiled cider – an ingredient I’d never heard of before. Apparently, it is widely popular in the NE United States and is used in many recipes up there as it has adds a huge boost of apple flavor. The recipe looked delicious, but I didn’t happen to have any boiled cider in my pantry and when I asked at my favorite specialty grocery store, the manager looked at me like I’d suddenly grown horns. You can order it online, but I already told you I was craving these doughnuts badly – no time to wait on a delivery! I opted to make my own out of cider I already had in the fridge. If you can find the finished product in stores, lucky you! If not, order online, or follow my super easy boiled cider recipe, as that ingredient really makes all the difference in getting an amazing apple flavor. Substituting additional applesauce instead will also work.
Here is everything you need:
I promise it is not necessary to label all your ingredients, and no, I didn’t do that just for the post. That is really how they are in my pantry and on my counter. What can I say? I love labeling! Maybe a little too much…
First, preheat your oven to 350°F. Don’t forget. I always do…
Put all the wet ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer. I got a little excited and added the baking powder. Ignore that. Mix on low/medium until the mixture is smooth. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer is fine, or even a good old wooden spoon. You will just work a little harder than I did.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, spices and baking powder. You don’t have to sift the flour first, although I do prefer to weigh the measurement rather than scoop it. No worries if you are a scooper, but please see my note in the ingredients.
Add the flour mixture a little bit at a time on low, just until everything comes together smoothly. Although it doesn’t make a pretty picture, I do love my mixer’s guard. It helps me not to spill the flour, even if the rest of the kitchen becomes a disaster area while I cook.
Using a spoon or a handy dandy scooper, fill the wells of a sprayed (don’t forget to spray!) doughnut pan almost to the top. This recipe will make about 18 doughnuts, so if you only have one pan, you’ll need to bake in 3 batches. Bake for 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.
While they bake, I prep my toppings. Cinnamon sugar is traditional, but maple glaze really compliments these nicely. Whisk the glaze ingredients until smooth, adding more liquid or sugar until you get a nice dippable (yes, I made up that word) consistency – not too thin or thick.
Since these doughnuts aren’t fried, but I still wanted a little crisp on the outside, I turned these doughnuts out onto a cooling rack and baked them an extra couple of minutes. The doughnuts are super moist, so even though you sprayed the pan you may still have to tap the pan gently to get them to pop out.
After the crisped doughnuts are cool to the touch, carefully dip the tops in the maple glaze and let dry on a cooling rack. The glaze will harden nicely to be able to pack them in boxes, if desired. Alternatively, shake in a paper bag with a tablespoon or so of cinnamon sugar. If you aren’t serving these right way, wait to coat in sugar or dip in the glaze. Whether you use the sugar or glaze, these are best stored in a non-airtight container, such as on a covered caked stand or a cooling rack covered with a cake cover or upside down cake pan. You want the air to be able to get to them a bit. Really though, I doubt you will have any left over… And if you end up covering them too tightly, and they don’t stay crisp, I promise they still taste delicious. I know from experience, hahaha.
Again, if you want to make your own boiled cider, please see my post on it.
Note: I adapted my recipe from a Whole Wheat Apple Cider Doughnut recipe I found on King Arthur Flour’s website, as it was the closest base recipe I could find for what I wanted. I didn’t use whole wheat flour, and adjusted the recipe accordingly. Plus, I really wanted the apple flavor to be the star, so I made some changes there as well, and included a little nutmeg in along with the traditional cinnamon (I just love nutmeg!). If you are interested in seeing the original, it is linked below.
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Maple-Glazed Apple Cider Baked Donuts
A yummy apple spice doughnut that uses boiled cider to ramp up the apple flavor, with a maple glaze instead of the traditional cinnamon sugar topping.
2-3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar for topping, if not using glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
4 tablespoons real maple syrup (see "tips," below)
2-6 teaspoons milk, depending on amount of syrup used
Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease 2 doughnut pans. You will need to re-use one pan to bake the final 6 doughnuts.
Mix together wet ingredients with sugar until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients, except cinnamon sugar for topping (if using).
Add flour mixture a little at a time, mixing just until incorporated.
Fill the wells of a doughnut pan almost full, using about 1/4 cup batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick or taster comes out clean.
While the doughnuts bake, whisk the glaze ingredients all together until smooth, starting with only 2 teaspoons of milk. If needed, add additional milk one teaspoon at a time until the glaze is a good consistency for dipping. Not to thin or thick.
Pull the doughnuts out of the oven and loosen the edges a bit. After a few minutes, turn the doughnuts out on to a cooling rack. You may need to gently tap the pan.
For extra crispy doughnuts, place the cooling rack in the oven for 2-3 more minutes.
While warm, but cool enough to handle, dip in the maple glaze and return to the cooling rack to allow the glaze to harden. Alternatively, sprinkle or shake in a bag with cinnamon sugar. These are best if eaten immediately (not that you'll need any prodding...). See storage tips below.
Don't use any toppings on doughnuts that won't get eaten immediately, as this may cause them to get soggy. Until ready to eat, store loosely covered on a rack, allowing air to circulate. Top when you are ready to eat.
Flour - Use 8 ounces of flour, whether you choose whole wheat or regular. Weighing flour is best, but measuring cups work too :) If scooping, regular flour comes out to 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons, while whole wheat flour is closer to about 2 cups.
Boiled Cider - If you don't have boiled cider, you may substitute applesauce instead, but the apple flavor may not be as strong. In my recipe, I started with 3 tablespoons of the boiled cider, tasted the batter, and thought it needed more apple flavor, so I added 2 more and it tasted great. After baking, it seemed the flavor had intensified a little more that I thought it would, so next time I'll keep the boiled cider to 3-4 tablespoons. You should go with your own tastes - maybe you love apple and 5+ tablespoons would be perfect for you!
Maple Syrup - If you don't have real maple syrup, you may use 1 tsp maple flavoring plus an additional 1-2 tablespoons milk or cream, or you may use 2-3 tablespoons imitation pancake syrup.