It’s apple season, and one of the most enjoyable ways to partake is the apple cider doughnut.
Amy Traverso is senior lifestyle editor at Yankee Magazine and author of The Apple Lover’s Cookbook.
She tells says even though New Hampshire has plenty of great cider doughnuts for sale, everyone should try making a batch at home at least once.
It’s hard to compete with some of the doughnuts made at great places like Gould Hill or Alyson’s or the many apple orchards that make doughnuts, because they’re truly excellent. But I think that A) homemade, you can have them without having to get out of your house and put on real clothes. You can just cook them in your pajamas and enjoy them! And B) I think it’s the, “Hey, I did this,” aspect of it that’s really appealing.
The recipe you use calls for boiled cider. What does that add to the doughnut that just pouring cider into the mix might not provide?
Boiled cider is sort of the maple syrup of cider. It’s reduced, so that a lot of the water is eliminated and it’s very, very concentrated. Boiled cider is a great way to inject that apple cider flavor into your doughnuts. However, if you don’t have it on hand - and it’s not something we typically find at our local supermarkets – you can just take regular cider and cook it down until it’s reduced. You could start with a cup of it or a cup and a half, and then reduce it down to a third of a cup. And so then you have that more concentrated flavor.
You write that cider tends to make doughnuts more tender. Do you have to then compensate for that in other areas of the recipe, or do you just have cider and it makes for a more tender doughnut?
It makes a more tender doughnut. It’s good to have them be tender, and the flour will do a good job of making them hold together – the flour will add the gluten that binds them. That combination of the gluten holding it together and the tenderness – it’s a perfect doughnut texture.
Are there places where someone who doesn’t do a lot of baking might get stuck in their first try at making cider doughnuts? Any tips for them?
It helps to have your dough be cold and firm – if it starts to warm up and get sticky, you can just put it in your freezer for ten minutes and that’ll do the trick. Also, in my particular recipe, I say use plenty of flour to roll it out. That’s another way to prevent sticking – the dough is moist enough that adding that extra flour in the rolling out process will not make it tough.
What are your favorite variations and alternatives to the traditional cider doughnut?
Some of the variations come in the finishing. You can serve them plain, you can roll them in cinnamon sugar, or you make a very simple glaze by mixing a tablespoon of apple cider into about a cup of confectioner’s sugar. You can start there and see if it has the right drizzling texture, and then add a little liquid at a time until it’s pourable. There are two finishing methods that are both delicious.
And then we have a recipe in the current issue of Yankee, which is cider doughnut muffins, which I highly recommend as an alternative to those of us who don’t want to deal with the frying, which can be a little messy. You bake in regular muffin tin, brush them with a little bit of butter on the outside and roll them in cinnamon sugar. They give you all that cider doughnut flavor with a little bit less hassle.
Do you miss cider doughnuts in the other three seasons of the year or do you try to have them in spring, summer or winter?
I try to stick to that motto, enjoy things in season so they’re special. But if somebody offered me a cider doughnut in May, it would not turn it down.