October 21, 2017

A New England trip and some Apple Cider Donuts


I just returned from a five day trip with my family to the Northeast where the main items on the agenda were leaf peeping and experiencing a New England autumn.  Living in California, and especially San Francisco, late September to mid-November normally signals Indian summer so witnessing the fall colors has been on my bucket list.  The visit really exceeded my expectations.  So much in fact that I'm thinking of making it an annual outing going forward.  



Something I absolutely had to do on this trip was go apple picking and of course sample freshly made cider donuts.  I discovered Cider Hill Farm when I was researching online for u-pick farms.  Its location was ideal because it was only about an hour north of Boston (our home base) and in the general direction of New Hampshire where we were headed for leaf peeping. 


We got to Cider Hill just as it opened at 8am and as soon as we approached the farm shop the smell of freshly made apple cider donuts filled the air.  Absolute heaven!   After gobbling down a half dozen with some hot cider we set about focusing on the task at hand - picking apples!  

There were so many different varieties to choose from and the countless rows of trees were bursting with ripe fruit.  In the end we decided on Empires, with a few Ambrosias thrown in.  One hour and a half bushel of apples later and we left the farm fully satisfied.  


When I got back home to SF all I could think about were those delicious apple cider donuts.  Normally I avoid deep frying at home but in this case I had to make an exception.  I found a recipe from Smitten Kitchen, a highly trusted source, so I felt confident they would be great.   I wasn't wrong - they had a crispy, crunchy exterior with a soft cake-y interior.  So delicious!

The next time I make this recipe I'll probably just make the donut holes.  I actually prefer the smaller portions because you don't feel so bad eating a few in one sitting.  My favorite way to enjoy them?  With a cup of piping hot apple cider, of course!  



Apple Cider Donuts

1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups flour, plus additional for the work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable shortening for frying
Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)
In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a standing mixer) beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are completely incorporated. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

Line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheets and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Use more flour if the dough is still wet. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes. Pull the dough out of the freezer.

Using a 3-inch or 3 1/2-inch donut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole from a set like this, as I did — cut out donut shapes. Place the cut donut and donut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the donuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional donuts from the dough.)

Add enough shortening to a deep-sided pan to measure a depth of about 3 inches. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and heat over medium heat until the oil reaches 350°F. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.

Carefully add a few donuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the donuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the donuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm donuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.

2 comments:

  1. Holy perfection. I think I could eat these every day for, like, the rest of my life. My favorite fall treat!

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