We’re hurtling into apple season. And while many people may have their eyes set on sweet, crisp apples to eat straight from the tree, we have ours locked on the apple cider doughnuts that go with this joyous occasion. For an extra punch of apple flavor, this recipe for spiced doughnuts (and doughnut holes) comes with a creamy caramel sauce made with apple cider.
Pro tip: When dealing with cake doughnuts, alleviate the need for proofing by swapping in baking powder and soda for the yeast. However, you still need to treat the dough the same way when rolling out and cutting. This dough is on the wetter side, so don’t be afraid to go heavier with your dusting of flour. That way your doughnuts won’t stick to your work surface and will make it to fryer (and eventually your stomach).
Apple Cider Doughnuts with Caramel Sauce
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 12 doughnuts, plus 12 doughnut holes
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
For the Doughnuts:
3 cups apple cider
Three 2-inch orange peels
2 cinnamon sticks
2 allspice berries
4½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup apple butter
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the Cinnamon Sugar:
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
For the Apple Cider Caramel:
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup apple cider
½ cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1. Make the doughnuts: In a small saucepan, combine the cider with the cloves, orange peels, cinnamon sticks and allspice berries. Bring to a boil and cook until reduced to ⅓ cup, 25 to 30 minutes. Strain into a bowl and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, make the cinnamon sugar: In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar and cinnamon until incorporated.
3. Make the apple cider caramel: In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and apple cider over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar has dissolved and reduced to a dark-amber syrup, 12 to 14 minutes. Whisk in the remaining ingredients to form a smooth caramel, then remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
4. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and baking soda.
5. To the reduced syrup, whisk in the buttermilk, apple butter, apple cider vinegar and vanilla extract.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter with the granulated and brown sugars until light and fluffy. With the motor running, add the eggs, 1 at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients and mix until a dry dough comes together, then stream in the cider mixture until a smooth dough forms.
7. In a heavy-bottomed pot, such as a 6-quart Dutch oven, heat 2 inches of vegetable oil to 350º. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into an 11-by-15-inch rectangle, ½ inch thick. Using a 3½-inch round cutter, cut out 8 rounds. Using a 1¼-inch cutter, cut out the center of each round to make 8 doughnuts and 8 doughnut holes. Reroll the scraps to form 4 more doughnuts and 4 more doughnut holes.
8. Working in batches, fry the doughnuts and doughnut holes, flipping once, until puffed and golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side for the doughnuts and 1 minute per side for the holes. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a wire rack to drain for a few seconds, then using tongs, toss them in the cinnamon sugar to coat.
9. Transfer the doughnuts and doughnut holes to a platter and serve immediately with the warm caramel on the side.