Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Some of my friends and I have created an unofficial tradition of going apple picking in the Fall. Every year around this time for the last 3 or 4 years we have gone to different orchards expecting to take a lot of pictures, get a lot of apples and get some apple cider donuts. Unfortunately, this year’s apple picking trip was a disappointment. The orchard we went to had no apples, only some vegetables we could pick. Homegirl even said we can brush our feet under the apple trees for any fallen fruit 🙄 (which there were none). And to make things even worse, there weren’t even apple cider donuts! Some of the group ended up going to another orchard to get donuts but I had other plans. Since then I had been craving apple cider donuts and decided to make them on my own.

I looked at several recipes and tried both fried and baked donuts. In the end I came up with this baked donut recipe that was good enough to satisfy my craving. These donuts are tender with a warm spice and apple flavor. They are so good, I almost forgot they were homemade! If you want part of that apple picking experience from home, go ahead and try this recipe!

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The key to getting the apple flavor in apple cider donuts is reducing the apple cider over heat to a concentrated syrup. The better the cider quality, the stronger the flavor. You can even make the apple flavor stronger by using more apple cider and still reducing it to half a cup. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. I mostly eyeballed it but you can be more accurate by putting half a cup in the pan first and measuring how high up the pan or a wooden spoon it is before pouring the rest so that when it has reduced up until that point you know it’s ready.
  • I actually bought donut pans for these because I just became obsessed with making donuts but if you do not have donut pans and don’t want to buy them, you can make them in muffins pans. Back in college I used to make donuts this way all the time.
  • This batter is pretty light so I will not recommend frying them. I tried frying a similar batter and they just soaked up a lot of oil and didn’t cook the way I wanted them to. If you are determined to try frying these, I suggest you add more flour and you refrigerate the dough before handling. In the future I will probably try a better batter for frying and put it up.
  • When it comes to the coating for these, you can use a traditional sugar and spice coating but you can also do a sugar glaze. I glazed a few of them with some left over frosting that I had melted in the microwave. In this recipe though, I will stick to the customary sugar and spice coating.
  • These can keep for several days at room temperature and even longer refrigerated. You can eat them at room temperature but they are even better reheated in a toaster oven.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

This recipe yields 12 donuts

  • 2 cups Apple cider
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom

Coating

  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)

Method

Reduce apple cider in an open pan on high heat to half a cup. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes but start checking after 10 minutes. Let the cider cool completely before using it. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.

In a bowl, combine melted butter, sugars, heavy cream, egg, cooled apple cider and vanilla. Mix until fully incorporated. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom. Gently mix flour mixture into wet mixture until fully combined.

Grease your donut or muffin pans if they aren’t non-stick (enough for 12). Spoon or using a piping bag, pipe equal amounts of batter into the pans. Bake in your preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until they bounce back when gently pressed. Let them cool on a wire rack or tray for about 2 minutes before handling.

Melt butter in a bowl in the microwave. In another bowl, combine sugar and spices until evenly mixed. Dunk a donut in the butter or brush donut all around with butter before placing it in the sugar mixture. Coat completely with sugar by swishing both sides around in the bowl or by spooning the sugar over the donut. Do this for each donut. Serve with tea or coffee and enjoy. Store what ever you succeed in not eating in an airtight container.

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