December 20, 2009

12 Days of Goodies- Day 8: Apple Cider Doughnut Holes

So I'm sure you're wondering where the doughnuts are, if I made doughnut holes, right? Well, I did in fact make them, I just chose not to show them to you. They were rather... unsightly. It may be hard to tell from the picture, but these doughnut holes are actually quite large. Probably 2 or 3 times the size of your average, run of the mill doughnut hole. The frying oil acted as some kind of mutant enhancement serum, making the once tiny, round forms of dough, grow into these large, irregular puffs. So you can only imagine what the actual doughnuts looked like.

I had never even heard of an apple cider doughnut, until I saw them posted on Smitten Kitchen back in October. There, Deb (the author of that particular blog, which is pretty fantastic by the way) reminisced about these doughnuts, and their unique flavor. I could only assume they were a north eastern thing. Well, since that fateful day in October, I have been dying to join in this New England tradition. And although my doughnuts tasted quite yummy, the appearance was not really what I was expecting. But as they say, it's what's on the inside that counts.

Apple Cider Doughnut Holes
Recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

1 cup apple cider
1 medium Cortland apple, cored, peeled, and chopped
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 oil for frying

For cinnamon-sugar coating:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For apple cider glaze:
1 cup apple cider (reduced over medium heat in a small saucepan to about 1/4 cup)
1 cup confectioner's sugar

1. In a saucepan over medium to medium-low heat, combine the chopped apples and apple cider. Cover and cook until the apples are softened, about 5 minutes. Uncover and continue to cook until the apple cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

3. Using an electric mixer on medium speed (with the paddle attachment, if using a stand mixer) cream the butter and granulated sugar together. 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 mixture and the buttermilk, mixing until just combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.

4. 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 doughnut cutter — or a 3 1/2-inch round cutter for the outer shape and a 1-inch round cutter for the hole, cut out doughnut shapes, (or do as I did, and use just the 1-inch cutter to makes only doughnut holes). Place the cut doughnuts and doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes.

5. While the doughnuts are chilling in the fridge, make the apple cider glaze by whisking together the confectioner's sugar and apple cider reduction until smooth. Combine the granulated sugar and ground cinnamon to make the cinnamon-sugar coating. Set both aside.

6. 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° F. Have a plate lined with several paper towels ready.

7. Carefully add a few 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. Coat both sides of each doughnut in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, then drizzle all doughnuts with the apple cider glaze. Serve immediately.

Makes about 18 doughnuts and doughnut holes, or 3 dozen doughnut holes

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