Easy Baked Apple Cider Donuts with Whole Wheat Flour
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First things first, all things fall: easy baked apple cider donuts. Hailing from the oven instead of the fryer and made from half whole-wheat pastry flour, these cider babies are about as decent for you as donuts get. (Though as the gentle king of vegan donuts once reminded me at the farmers’ market, they’re DONUTS, so.)
Just like in the classic, fried version of these donuts, boiling the cider just shy of syrup concentrates the apple flavor.
Look. Not all baked donuts are good. These are good.
The kids go crazy for these, and I don’t mind standing by pretending not to notice when they grab a second one once in a while.
And for kids and adults alike, I love how boiling the cider just shy of syrup concentrates the apple flavor just like in the classic fried version of these donuts. The kind you might pick up straight from your local New England farm or directly out of a Norman Rockwell painting.
You know the ones I mean.
For the donuts
- 2 cups apple cider
- 1 cup all-purpose flour*
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Three-finger pinch of salt (omit if using salted butter)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
For the topping
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 375° F with a rack in the center. Spray two donut pans lightly with cooking spray.
- Pour the cider into a frying pan and set over high heat. Boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, which takes about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. (If you over-reduce it by accident, just top it up with regular cider. Not that I've ever done that, ahem.)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, regular and brown sugars, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, buttermilk, butter and reduced apple cider.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir just until combined. You don't want any pockets of flour remaining, but you don't want to over-mix.
- You can spoon the batter into your prepared donut pans, but I prefer to pour the batter into a gallon-sized zip top plastic bag, snip off a small piece of one of the lower corners, and use it like a pastry bag to fill each well about 2/3 full. You'll have a little bit of leftover batter, which I usually just pretend I don't notice. You could bake up a few mini donuts if you prefer.
- Bake until the tops of the donuts spring back a bit when touched lightly, about eight minutes. Leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then rap pans on the counter once or twice before inverting. Donuts should slide right out. Cool on a rack.
- For the topping, melt butter and pour into a wide, shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Dip the top of each donut into the butter for just a second and then into the cinnamon sugar to coat as much as you like. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably on baking day.
*As I so often remind you, don't forget to use the spoon and level method to measure flour. Spoon flour into your measuring cup until it heaps over the top, then run the flat side of a butter knife across the top of the measuring cup to level it off. This method ensures you won't end up with overly dense baked goods from too much flour packed into the cup. (A cup of all-purpose flour should weigh about 4 1/2 ounces or 120 grams.)
** If you want to coat both the top and bottom of the donuts with cinnamon sugar, double this part of the recipe. I find they're sweet and flavorful enough with just the tops covered.
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