Breakfast & Brunch Desserts

Apple Cider Doughnuts


Last week was the second installment of National Doughnut Day. Celebrated twice a year – once in June and again in November – it’s a day to channel your inner fat kid and go nuts for the bliss that is sweetened fried dough.

Apple Cider Doughnuts just made sense, considering that it’s November and all. I don’t fry at home very often, primarily because I live in an apartment with a pathetic excuse for a fume hood, and the place smells like I fried something for a week after the fact.

I tried this recipe from a decade-old article in the Washington Post. I reviewed quite a few of them circulating the net, and I chose this one because I liked the ingredient list. The pastry chef who wrote the recipe worked at Hearth Restaurant, and she reduces the apple cider considerably to concentrate the flavor. Considering most Apple Cider Doughnut recipes can be lacking, this is a very smart move.

I did make one modification to the recipe. I ended up reducing 2 cups of cider instead of the 1 cup called for in the recipe. The final yield was ½ cup, which I separated by adding ¼ cup to the recipe, and using the remainder to add to some powdered sugar for the glaze. It was the smartest idea I’ve ever had. By far.

Cinnamon-sugar was the traditional covering, and since people tend to get almost evangelical about that kind of stuff I covered the bulk of the doughnuts that way. The cider glazed ones were better. Way better. They went long before I got any photos of them.


Apple Cider Doughnuts

adapted from this Washington Post article



  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3½ cups flour, plus extra for the work surface
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup buttermilk (low-fat or nonfat will work fine)
  • Vegetable oil or shortening, for frying


  • 2 tablespoons reduced apple cider
  • 1 cup powdered sugar


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon


Make the doughnuts: In a saucepan over medium to medium-low heat, add the apple cider and reduce gently to about ½ cup (this took about 25 to 30 minutes). Separate into two ¼ cup portions and set aside.

Meanwhile, in another bowl, add the flour, baking powder and baking soda, ground cinnamon, sea salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar together until the mixture is smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, allowing each to fully incorporate before adding the next. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl down occasionally with a spatula.

With the mixer on low, slowly pour in ¼ cup of the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, and mix until it is combined. Add the flour mixture and mix until it is just incorporated. The dough will be wet and sticky at this point. This is okay.

Prepare two half sheet pans with parchment paper and sprinkle them generously with flour. Turn the dough onto one of the sheet pans and sprinkle the top of the dough generously with more flour. Flatten the dough gently with the palm of your hands or with a rolling pin until it is even and about ½-inch thick. Feel free to use more flour if the dough sticks to your hand. Place in the freezer to firm up for at least 20 minutes.

Remove the dough from the freezer and using a 3 to 3½-inch doughnut cutter (you can also use a 3 to 3½-inch biscuit cutter and a 1-inch biscuit cutter), cut out your desired doughnut shapes. Place them on the other prepared sheet pan. Once all of the doughnut shapes are cut place the sheet pans in the refrigerator. You can re-roll the leftover scraps of dough and cut additional shapes from them.

Prepare an adjacent counter with several layers of paper towels. Prepare the glaze by adding the remaining 2 tablespoons of reduced apple cider to 1 cup of powdered sugar in a bowl. Whisk well to remove any lumps. If you are using the cinnamon-sugar mixture to top your doughnuts, combine the two together into a medium sized bowl and toss with your hands until the cinnamon is evenly distributed. Set the bowls aside.

Add enough oil to a deep fryer or pot to come up about 3 inches to the side. Attach a deep fry thermometer. Heat over medium until the oil reaches 350 degrees. Add a few doughnuts to the oil and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute or so. Flip doughnut over and allow to cook another 30-60 seconds. Remove from pan promptly and drain on paper towels for about a minute. Add more doughnuts to the pot.

Working quickly, toss the warm doughnuts into the cinnamon sugar mixture. If you are glazing the doughnuts, allow them to cool slightly before you dip the tops into the glaze. Serve warm, because nothing in the world is better than a warm doughnut.

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