Happy Friday to you! We finally have a week and weekend at home, so we’re getting things ready for Noelle’s 1st birthday party (next weekend!!!) and cozying up while hurricane Florence hits the east coast. Stay prepared and safe.
If you’re also indoors this weekend, I have the perfect treat for you: apple cider donuts. Cakey and dense, intensely flavored, baked not fried. Baked donuts come together much quicker than you realize, so it’s a quick and convenient recipe for your mornings. If you’re getting in the fall spirit like I am, break out your donut pan!!!
I published my favorite recipe for baked apple cider donuts on my blog almost 5 years ago. I’ve made the donuts at least once every fall season since then, but I updated the recipe this year. They have a stronger apple spice flavor. I also added apple spice to the cinnamon sugar topping– and had a heavy hand while coating them. Who’s complaining there? I would say my dentist, but I actually brought her a plate of these when I went in for a cleaning this week. She loved them. Ha!
What do they taste like?
Have you ever tried my chai spice donuts, crumb cake donuts, or cinnamon sugar donuts? All three are somewhat dense and very muffin-like. Today’s apple cider donuts are a little heavier with a more substantial and moister crumb. Flavor-wise, they’re APPLE and CINNAMON and SPICE all over. They taste like they’re straight from a bakery and I should definitely know because my diet on vacation looked like: black bean burgers and fresh donuts. Balance.
THIS 1 STEP CHANGES EVERYTHING
Let me quickly explain the recipe before you get started. The TRICK to apple cider donuts is to flavor them with concentrated apple cider. Apple cider that’s been reduced down on the stove is thick and potent, adding big flavor without excess liquid. Apple cider, homemade or store-bought, is certainly delicious to drink but it won’t add enough flavor to baked goods. Taking 20 minutes to reduce the apple cider down turns regular donuts into apple cider donuts. You can even do this the night before, which is what I do because the cider must cool down for a few minutes before you add it to the batter. Pour apple cider in a saucepan, place it on low heat, set a timer, give it a stir a few times, and it’ll be reduced down before you know it.
We’re reducing 1 and 1/2 cups of apple cider down to 1/2 cup. It’ll be darker and thicker with heavily concentrated flavor. Here’s my reduced down apple cider:
Besides that, you only need 2 bowls: 1 bowl for dry ingredients like flour and spices and 1 bowl for wet ingredients like egg, milk, melted butter, and sugars. Everything is whisked together, so there’s no need to break out your mixer. Look at this beautiful caramel colored batter! So much apple flavor hiding in here.
No need for a rolling pin or donut cutter, simply add the batter to a donut pan. My trick for this? Use a zipped-top bag. Add the batter, cut off a corner, and pipe it into the donut pan filling only about halfway. This trick makes transferring the batter easy, neat, and quick. Don’t have a donut pan? Make donut muffins in your muffin pan.
Bake time is just as quick: only about 10 minutes. Once the donuts are out of the oven, let them cool for 2 minutes, invert the pan to release the donuts, then re-grease the donut pan and bake the remaining donut batter. (If you don’t own 2 donut pans! I only have 1.)
COAT THE DONUTS
The crown jewel of the donuts! A dip in melted butter, then a dunk in granulated sugar, cinnamon, and apple pie spice. If you don’t have access to store-bought apple pie spice, you can make your own with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg. The melted butter, while adding flavor, also helps the apple spice coating stick.
And that’s all I’ve got!
Delivering you your weekend plans on a plate:
Baked Apple Cider Donuts
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) apple cider
- 2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)*
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon apple pie spice*
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (120ml) milk, at room temperature*
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 3/4 teaspoon apple pie spice*
- 6 Tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted
- Reduce the apple cider: Stirring occasionally, simmer the apple cider in a small saucepan over low heat until you're left with about 1/2 cup. Start checking at 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, etc until you have 1/2 cup (120ml). Mine takes about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray donut pan with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- Make the donuts: Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, apple pie spice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.
- Whisk the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, granulated sugar, milk, and vanilla extract together. Pour into the dry ingredients, add the reduced apple cider, and whisk everything together until smooth and combined. Batter will be slightly thick.
- Spoon the batter into the donut cavities—for ease, I highly recommend using a large zipped-top bag. Cut a corner off the bottom of the bag and pipe the batter into each donut cup, filling about halfway.
- Bake for 10-11 minutes or until the edges and tops are lightly browned. To test, poke your finger into the top of the donut. If the donut bounces back, they're done. Cool donuts for 2 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. Re-grease the pan and bake the remaining donut batter.
- Coat the donuts: Combine the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and apple pie spice together in a medium bowl. Once cool enough to handle, dunk both sides of each donut in the melted butter, then generously in the apple spice topping.
- Donuts are best served immediately. Leftovers keep well covered tightly at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Make ahead tip: You can freeze the donuts, coated or not coated in the toppings, for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and warm up to your liking in the microwave. I usually just zap 'em for a couple seconds.
- Note on the apple spice: Do you have apple pie spice where you live? It's pretty standard here in the US. If you don't have access to store-bought apple pie spice, you can make your own with cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
- I usually use buttermilk, but I've found that any milk (dairy or nondairy) works pretty well. For a denser crumb, you can use 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream instead.
- Don't have a donut pan? Make donut muffins in your standard 12-cup muffin pan. Grease your pan or use muffin liners, fill each 3/4 full, then bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Makes about 10-12 apple cider donut muffins.
- Want to make mini donuts or mini donut holes in a mini muffin pan? Grease your pan, add the batter to the pan only about 3/4 of the way full. Bake at 350°F (177°C) for about 8-9 minutes.
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Try pumpkin donuts next!!!
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