Okay, okay, so I knew these wouldn't be a good idea when I saw the post on Smitten Kitchen. But I've never made donuts, so. . . yeah, I had to go there. Plus it is cider season and I had some good stuff.
Day one, I had some time to stand over the stove while cooking something else for dinner, so I reduced my cider then and let it sit in the fridge overnight. That was easy because everything was ready to go at 7 p.m. yesterday when I decided not to wait any longer. Actually, donuts are no trouble at all to put together. It's the frying part that went terribly wrong. I do not have a candy thermometer to take the oil's temperature and, apparently, I also didn't have enough vegetable oil in the house to make the pan 3" deep with it. I've been meaning to go to Costco.
Oh well, I thought, pouring in what I had, scarcely 2" depth. Turns out that's not quite enough to let the donuts puff up on both sides at the same time, so the flat-top look they're sporting is quite on accident. My stovetop is also electric, one of those burner-less types where the heat fluctuates. I hate it. Yesterday I hated it the most. My first batch of donuts burned to a crisp in under 15 seconds. I turned to deep breathing for five minutes until the burner figured things out, then started again. My oil was always a combinations of things: too hot plus too shallow or too cool plus too shallow. Neither path leads to victory.
After an hour of frying, I had mostly greasy donuts and a few gloriously perfect ones. We ate the goods ones first and debated buying a deep fat fryer again. If you are brave enough to try these without a deep-fat fryer, make sure you have enough oil to fry them in. Seems like a key element.
Apple Cider Doughnuts
Recipe very slightly adapted from the original on SmittenKitchen
Makes about 22 donuts + holes
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
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
Vegetable oil for frying
Glaze (1 cup confectioners’ sugar + 2 tablespoons apple cider)
Cinnamon sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon)
Make the doughnuts: 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 round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole to cut out doughnut shapes. Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes. (You may re-roll the scraps of dough, refrigerate them briefly and cut additional doughnuts from the dough.)
Make your toppings (if using): While the cut doughnut shapes are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together in a large paper bag. Set aside.
Fry and top the doughnuts: Add enough oil 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 degrees. Have ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.
Carefully add 2-3 doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds. Turn the doughnuts over and fry until the other side is golden, 30 to 60 seconds. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Dip the top of the warm doughnuts into the glaze or drop into the bag of cinnamon sugar mixture and shake lightly to coat. Eat immediately.