Apple Cider Doughnuts

It’s fall and we happen to be near one of the world’s best steam-powered cider mills (so says Alton Brown), so we get a lot of cider slushies and a lot of cider doughnuts. At some point I start to think we should just make our own.

Pouring cider
Don’t spill don’t spill don’t spill…

Belle is a fan of these doughnuts and a fan of cider and a fan of baking, and I went into this recipe without much of a plan, except to allow her to work more on her pouring skills. Pouring combines gross motor strength, especially with a gallon of cider, with fine motor precision – both in targeting a tiny teaspoon and in slowing down to avoid spilling over. A funnel can be useful when trying to hit narrow targets, though it doesn’t help much with small amounts since there’s some lag time before you get the visual feedback.

Scraping the bowl
Scraping the bowl remains a real challenge for Belle.

Just as an FYI, the recipe still works with approximately four times as much vanilla. We might start pouring vanilla over a smaller bowl so we can recover the excess, though.

Greasing the doughnut pan
Belle has a tendency to swipe over the top and not into the crevices – we need to keep practicing that 3D greasing.

Belle also has gained a lot of independence controlling the mixer – she has developed an eye and ear for when the stand mixer is too fast or slow and when it is done. She catches herself and places her hands on the safe spot unprompted, though we haven’t talked about the safe spot in months, so I don’t watch her as carefully when she reaches around the mixer to hand me other ingredients.

Apple cider doughnuts, ready for the oven

Skills worked on:

  • pouring
  • food prep!

Equipment needed:

  • saucepan
  • mixer and mixing bowl
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • spatula
  • extra bowls (cracking eggs, pouring vanilla)
  • doughnut pan – this is ours, but you can use a standard muffin pan if you don’t have one
  • two spoons for spooning batter into pan

Fresh baked apple cider doughnutsThis recipe is adapted from Yankee Magazine. We don’t love the topping and like a deeper flavor, so we subbed in brown sugar. Add 1-3 min to the bake time if opting for standard-sized muffins.

Recipe (45 min prep, 15 min bake per pan, yield: about 21 2.5″ donuts):

  • 2 c apple cider, reduced to 1 c
  • 1/2 c (1 stick) butter, plus 1/4 c for topping
  • 3/4 c brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Boil 2 c apple cider in a saucepan until it is reduced to 1 c, about 30 min. If you happen to have extra cider, 3 c will reduce to 1 cup with another 15 min and add extra flavor, but it’s not necessary. Let cool a bit once reduced – warm but not boiling is fine. No need to be too precise about the reduction as long as you end up with 1 c liquid added to the mixing bowl.
  2. Grease a doughnut pan for baking and preheat oven to 375°F.
  3. Cream together 1/2 c butter and 3/4 c brown sugar until fluffy.
  4. Add 2 eggs and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla and mix in.
  5. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl (or a cup measure): 2 1/4 c flour, 1 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda, and 1 tsp salt.
  6. Mixing well after each, add 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/2 of cider, 1/3 of flour mixture, 1/2 of cider, and final 1/3 of flour mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.
  7. Spoon batter into the doughnut cavities, filling about 3/4 full. Bake 14-15 min, then let cool on a wire rack.
  8. Optionally, melt 1/4 c butter in a bowl and dip cooled doughnuts in it.

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Apple cider doughnuts pin

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