Friday, November 27, 2009
Apple Cider Doughnut Holes
I have a confession, I eat my way through cooking. I am not talking about just grabbing a little taste here and there, no, no, I take so many little tastes of everything that it is amazing anything even makes it into the oven. I lick the beaters when I know I could scrape a whole lot more off. I will eat many spoons of cookie dough, cake or muffin batter, chunks of uncooked pie dough and fruit filling that is ready to hit the oven. I am so bad and these doughnuts were no exception. I took a little taste of the dough and I was out of control. Then, once the doughnuts were cooked, I could not stop eating! Think the Cookie Monster when he would eat and crumbs and chunks of cookie would go flying all over the place. That was me, and yes, these doughnuts were that good.
So, now that everyone is totally disgusted and now understand why I spend hours upon hours at the gym, let me talk about the recipe. I admit that when I tried this the first time around, it wasn’t pretty (see second picture) and it took a heck of a long time. I also have to say that although these doughnuts are unbelievably good, you will probably find my tail at Dunkin Donuts because there is some hard labor involved. So, with that said, below are the two important tips that will make the difference between good doughnuts or a big mess.
Tip 1: Flour is your friend and I would recommend using it generously, often and without hesitation. Dough that is going to be fried is sticky, very, very sticky and your only weapon is flour. By the time all was said and done, my kitchen looked like a snowstorm had hit it but the doughnuts lifted from the surface and that is what we are aiming for.
Tip 2: use a good candy thermometer. The first time I did this, I put the dough into the oil when it looked hot and of course, they went crisp on the outside in seconds and it was a big pile of gooey dough on the inside (again, observe the second photo). I am a huge fan of gooey but not in this case. These are cake doughnuts and they should be cakey inside.
Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen who adapted from Lauren Dawson at Hearth Restaurant.
1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus much more for work surface
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of allspice
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour cream
Vegetable oil or shortening for frying
Glaze (1 cup confectioners sugar + 2 Tablespoons apple cider)
Cinnamon Sugar (1 cup granulated sugar + 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon)
In a saucepan over medium or medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about 1/4 cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, allspice, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.
Using an electric mixer on medium speed with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar until the mixture is smooth. 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 and the buttermilk or sour cream, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.
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. Break off pieces of the dough and roll them into doughnut holes that are about the size of a golf ball. Place the doughnut holes onto the second sheet pan. Refrigerate the doughnuts for 20 to 30 minutes.
Add enough oil or shortening 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 ready a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.
Make your toppings (if using): While the doughnuts are in the refrigerator, make the glaze by whisking together the confectioners’ sugar and the cider until the mixture is smooth; make the cinnamon sugar by mixing the two together. Set aside.
Fry and roll the doughnuts: Carefully add a few doughnuts to the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan, and fry until golden brown, turning in the pan so all sides are browned, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels for a minute after the doughnuts are fried. Roll the warm doughnuts into the glaze or cinnamon sugar mixture (if using) and serve immediately.