Citizens, we are rapidly approaching the beginning of Autumn, and nothing screams Fall to me more than the availability of fresh apple cider, straight from the press!
In New England, cider has been enjoyed for centuries – these are a unique regional treat and are by no means difficult to make!
Cider doughnuts are a harvest tradition in autumn in the northeastern United States and are sometimes sold at cider mills. They are often paired with apple cider, and may be covered with cinnamon and/or granulated sugar. They are “cake doughnuts” and get their flavor from cinnamon, nutmeg and apple cider used in the batter.
As noted on smithsonianmag.com:
I don’t know exactly when cider donuts were invented, but they seem to have made their commercial debut in the United States in the 1950s. Using ProQuest, I found the following in a New York Times article from August 19, 1951:
A new type of product, the Sweet Cider Doughnut will be introduced by the Doughnut Corporation of America in its twenty-third annual campaign this fall to increase doughnut sales. The new item is a spicy round cake that is expected to have a natural fall appeal.
According to the 2008 book “Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut,” by Paul R. Mullins, the Doughnut Corporation of America (DCA) was founded in the 1920s by a Russian immigrant named Adolph Levitt who was quite the entrepreneur. He launched a chain of doughnut shops, developed a doughnut-making machine and a standardized a mix of ingredients to sell to other bakeries, and came up with National Donut Month and a host of other marketing gimmicks.
By the way, Levitt’s DCA no longer exists (it was bought out by Lyons in the 1970s), but its name does: In what Saveur magazine calls “a stroke of pure genius,” the brothers behind a small Seattle business called Top Pot Doughnuts bought the DCA trademark. Make that a “formerly small” business; Top Pot now sells its donuts in many Starbucks nationwide. Sadly—or perhaps happily for my arteries—their product line doesn’t include cider donuts.
Citizens, my version of these classic donuts is based closely on a seminal recipe from Yankee Magazine, but I have adjusted it to my taste, using vanilla paste instead of vanilla extract, adding cardamom and the use of the milder Ceylon cinnamon instead of the normal “regular” cinnamon. Since Ceylon cinnamon is known to lower blood sugar, it seems an appropriate addition to this sugary and autumnal treat!
Battle on – The GenralissimoPrint
The Hirshon New England Cider Donuts
- Total Time: 0 hours
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature – TFD prefers duck eggs if you can get them
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
- 1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly-ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
- 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1/3 cup boiled local apple cider – TFD is fond of Gravenstein cider, see important note at end of recipe!
- 1 tablespoon vanilla paste
- Canola or safflower oil (for frying)
- Cinnamon sugar (1 1/2 cups sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons ground Ceylon cinnamon)
- In a large bowl using a hand-held or standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together sugar and butter until mixture is pale and fluffy, four to six minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating a minute after each. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cardamom, and nutmeg and set aside.
- Add buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla paste into sugar/butter/egg mixture. Mix well, and don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled; it’ll smooth itself out. Add flour mixture and combine gently just until fully moistened.
- Line two baking sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper and dust generously with flour. Turn dough out onto one baking sheet and pat gently into ¾-inch-thickness. Sprinkle dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up.
- Remove dough from the freezer; use a lightly floured 3-inch doughnut cutter (or two concentric biscuit cutters) to cut out about 18 doughnuts with holes. (You may gather the scraps and roll again as needed, but you may need to chill the dough more to firm it up.) Place cut doughnuts on the other baking sheet as you go; then transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again.
- Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and set it nearby.
- In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 370 degrees (test with a high-quality instant-read thermometer, NOT a cheap hardware store model – accuracy is key here!).
- Drop three or four doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute; then flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute longer.
- Repeat with the remaining dough (if you find that it’s getting too soft as you work your way through the batches, pop it into the freezer again for 10 minutes). When doughnuts are cool enough to handle but still warm, sprinkle all over with cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.
- NOTE: Boiled apple cider gives these apple cider doughnuts a rich, slightly tangy flavor. For this recipe, SIMMER 3 cups of organic apple cider down to ⅓ cup, which takes several hours.
- Prep Time: 0 hours
- Cook Time: 0 hours
- Category: Recipes
- Calories: 1203.55 kcal
- Sugar: 57.86 g
- Sodium: 752.02 mg
- Fat: 62.05 g
- Saturated Fat: 14.1 g
- Trans Fat: 0.74 g
- Carbohydrates: 142.9 g
- Fiber: 3.27 g
- Protein: 18.19 g
- Cholesterol: 426.14 mg
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