Back in September Shane and I made a trip to our local orchard and I picked up a ton of apples. Since then I've made a number of great recipes using our apples and over the course of the next few days I'm going to share them with you (with the exception of tomorrow, which is posting day for the Martha Stewart Cupcakes group - we're making pumpkin patch cupcakes!). I hope you'll check back to see all of the apple goodness!
First up, apple cider doughnuts. I came upon these as I flipped through the October issue of Food Network magazine and immediately flagged them as a possible option for using up some of my apples. I've been wanting to try my hand at doughnuts for a while, but deep frying freaks me out. I've done it a few times when Shane has asked for wings (he usually gets baked wings when he asks now), but there's just something about it - maybe it's the hot, splattering oil, the messy cleanup or that lingering deep fried smell - that intimidates me. I knew I'd eventually put my fear aside and make doughnuts so now seemed as good a time as any!
There are a lot of individual steps to this recipe, but none of them are difficult on their own. The first task is to create an applesauce by reducing apple cider and diced apples. This step took a few minutes longer than the recipe indicates for me but it smelled wonderful so I didn't mind. The dough comes together easily in a mixer and while it is sticky, I didn't find it unworkable. I just kept my hands and the parchment well floured as I patted the dough into a rectangle. I only refrigerated my dough for 2 hours, but if you have time, I'd definitely recommend letting the dough sit in the fridge overnight. When I took the dough out to cut it, it warmed up very quickly and once warm, became more difficult to work with. The frying actually went ok and I found that about 1 1/2 minutes per side led to nicely browned doughnuts. I dipped one side of each donut in the cider glaze and then topped that side with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
I'm so glad I gave this recipe a shot and put aside my deep frying fears because these doughnuts were a hit! I gave most of them away and the recipients really enjoyed them. I used the scraps of dough to make a few doughnut holes, which I tasted and liked too. My only complaint is that the apple flavor wasn't very prominent. The glaze helped, but I think I might add diced apples to the dough when I make these again.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
from Food Network Magazine, October 2009 (available via FoodNetwork.com also)
2 red apples, such as Cortland or Macintosh
2 1/2 cups apple cider
3 1/2 cups all-pourpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
Vegetable oil, for frying
Core and coarsely chop the apples (do not peel). Combine with 1 1/2 cups cider in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the cider is almost completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure the sauce; you should have 1 cup. (Boil to reduce further, if necessary.) Let cool slightly.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
Beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and the shortening in another bowl with a mixer on medium speed until sandy. Beat in the egg and yolk, then gradually mix in the applesauce, scraping the bowl. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix to make a sticky dough; do not overmix.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 7-by-11-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, make the glaze: Simmer the remaining 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in the confectioners' sugar until smooth and glossy, then set aside. Mix the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl; set aside for the topping.
Heat 2 inches of vegetable oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 F. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut the chilled dough into 12 rounds, using a floured 2 1/2- or 3-inch biscuit cutter, then cut out the middles with a 1-inch cutter (or use a doughnut cutter). Slip 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer to the paper towels to drain.
Dip one side of each doughnut in the cider glaze, letting the excess drip off; dip just the glazed side in the cinnamon-sugar or roll all over in cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Serve warm.