You can take the girl out of the Hudson Valley, but you can't take the Hudson Valley out of the girl.
There are a lot of pros and cons to living in farm country, but perhaps the greatest perk is the abundance of farm stands. Fresh produce, homemade jams, local honey - and come fall, cider doughnuts for daaaays.
This recipe is the closest replica I've found to my old farm stand favourites; moist, perfectly spiced, fluffy yet dense. The key here is to make the doughnuts and glaze them a day ahead - this gives the syrup enough time to fully penetrate the doughnuts. Because the syrup mixture is cooked to a higher temperature (around the soft-ball stage) it needs more time to sink in and absorb completely. You can certainly eat these doughnuts the same day as glazing, but the syrup will still have that candy apple stickiness. If you're really impatient, you can skip the glaze all together. These doughnuts lovely as-is; in their natural state, they're best enjoyed along side a steaming mug of tea or coffee.
Day-Ahead Cider Doughnuts
(Makes 6 large doughnuts or 12 small ones)
To Make The Doughnuts
- 2 Tbsp. butter, softened (28 g)
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil (26 g)
- 1/4 cup sugar (60 g)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg (preferably freshly grated)
- 1/8 tsp. ground clove
- 1/8 tsp. vanilla (bean preferred, but extract works too)
- 2 Tbsp. boiled cider*
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 + 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (150 g)
- 1/2 cup whole milk (115 g)
- Non-stick spray
To Make The Boiled Cider
- 1 jug/bottle apple cider
To Make The Glaze
- 3 Tbsp. boiled cider
- 1 + 1/2 cup sugar (305 g)
- 2 Tbsp. corn syrup
- 1/4 cup water or unsweetened apple juice (57 g)
- Digital or candy thermometer
- Doughnut pan
* Boiled cider is easy enough to make (see the instructions below) but if you're pressed for time or feeling lazy, simply replace the boiled cider with frozen apple juice concentrate - just let it thaw before you bake.
1. POUR your cider into a pot and place over medium-high heat. Once the cider has boiled, reduce your heat to low.
2. SIMMER your cider and let it boil down; you want your liquid reduced by at least 75-80%. I do this by eye, but you can use a skewer to gauge the reduction as well. Simply place the skewer in your pot of cider (before boiling), remove it, and mark where the liquid stops. As the cider boils down you can insert the skewer into your liquid and check how much it's reduced against your original mark. Your final product will be thickened slightly, syrup-y in appearance, and a rich caramel colour. As it cools the boiled cider will thicken more, so don't reduce it too much.
3. COOL your boiled cider completely before using. It should have a honey like consistency once it's reached room temperature.
4. PREHEAT your oven to 400 degrees (f), 375 (f) for convection.
5. COAT your doughnut pan with non-stick spray.
6. COMBINE your flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a small bowl. Stir with a fork and set aside.
7. WHISK together the softened butter, oil, sugar, salt, and spices in a large bowl. You don't need to whisk this for very long, just 30 seconds or so. The mixture should be homogenous and slightly lightened in colour.
8. ADD your boiled cider or concentrate to the bowl and stir to combine. Repeat this process with the egg.
9. STIR in 1/2 of your flour mixture until just combined.
10. ADD 1/2 of your milk to the bowl, stirring to combine again.
11. REPEAT steps 9 and 10.
12. SCOOP your batter into a piping bag or large ziplock bag, and snip off the tip/corner. Keep the hole small, or the batter will spill out too quickly and things will get messy fast.
13. PIPE your batter into the sprayed doughnut pan. Try not to add too much batter, or you'll lose the definition in the doughnut's ring. If you do overfill them it's no big deal - you can leave them as-is, or cut out the center with a piping tip.
14. BAKE the doughnuts for 4 minutes, turn the pan, and bake for 4 minutes more. Test the doughnuts with a skewer - if it comes out clean, or with one or two tiny crumbs, they're ready. Larger doughnuts will probably need about 2-4 minutes more, depending on your oven. Take care not to over-bake these doughnuts, or the cake will be dry and won't be able to absorb as much of the syrup.
15. COOL your doughnuts for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack. Don't be alarmed that they're darker on the bottom, it's simply the result of using a metal pan.
16. COMBINE all the syrup ingredients in a small pan, stirring to combine.
17. COOK the syrup over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the sugar has fully dissolved.
18. SIMMER the syrup, keeping a close eye on the temperature. Once the syrup has reached 230-235 degrees, remove your pan from the heat. You can cook the syrup without a thermometer, it's just slightly more complicated - you'll need a bowl of ice water near by. Once the syrup is boiling and the sugar's dissolved you can begin testing the consistency. Using a spoon take a small amount of syrup and dip your spoon into the ice water; if you can roll the syrup into a soft ball, the syrup is done. You'll have to move quickly with this method, as the mixture can rapidly cook past the desired consistency. If the syrup has cooked beyond the soft-ball stage, the syrup cannot be used as a glaze.
19. COOL your syrup slightly - it should be warm but not hot.
20. SPRAY a wire rack with your non-stick spray, and don't be stingy about it. Without the spray your glazed doughnuts will stick to your cooling rack and rip apart when you try to remove them. I'd also suggest you place your wire rack over a sheet pan lined with foil - this isn't necessary, but it will save you time and effort when cleaning up.
21. DIP your doughnuts into the warm syrup, one at a time. Gently press them down into the syrup, and flip them over so both sides are evenly coated. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula, and gently transfer them onto your sprayed wire rack. If your syrup cools down too much, gently warm it back up on the stove or in a microwave.
22. COOL your glazed doughnuts completely, but don't let them sit out for too long or they'll dry out. Once the doughnuts are cooled, place them in an air-tight container, taking care to coat the container with non-stick spray before storage.
23. STORE the doughnuts in your air-tight container for at least 8-10 hours, or overnight. Once the syrup has full absorbed, the doughnuts will no longer be shiny and sticky. You can keep them for up to 3 days in an air tight container at room temperature (but mine are usually gone in a day or two).