Vermont apple cider donuts

photo by Squire Fox

1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated (or ground) nutmeg
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/3 cup boiled apple cider, cooled (see cook’s note) 
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Canola or safflower oil, for frying

Cinnamon Sugar
1 1/2 cups sugar  
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

  1. Using either a hand-held or standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat sugar and butter until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-6 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after each. 
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. Pour buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla into egg mixture and mix well (don’t worry if mixture looks a bit curdled–it will smooth itself out). Add flour mixture and gently mix just until fully moistened (mixture may appear a bit lumpy, but don’t over-mix it). 
  4. Line 2 large baking sheets with wax paper (or parchment paper) and dust generously with flour. Turn dough out onto1 baking sheet and gently pat to 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap, and place in freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. Remove dough from freezer and use a lightly floured 3-inch donut cutter (or 2 concentric biscuit cutters) to cut out about 18 donuts with holes (gather scraps and re-roll as needed, but you may need to chill dough again to firm it up). Place cut donuts on other baking sheet as you go, then transfer to freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again.
  5. Put a rack in center of oven and preheat to 200°F. Place a plate lined with a few layers of paper towels nearby. 
  6. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 370°F (test with a thermometer). Drop 3 or 4 donuts into oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute, then flip over and cook until browned on that side, about 1 minute more. Transfer donuts to prepared paper towel-lined plate and keep warm in oven until you finish with rest of dough. Repeat with remaining dough (if dough gets too soft, place it back in freezer for 10 minutes). When donuts are cool enough to handle, but still warm, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.

Makes approximately 18 3-inch donuts.

cook’s note: Boiled apple cider gives these donuts a very rich, slightly tangy flavor. You can buy boiled cider in some gourmet and Whole Foods stores, or you can boil your own cider by simmering 1 1/2 cups of fresh apple cider down to 1/3 cup in about 25 minutes (or longer if necessary)–it just won’t be as concentrated as the commercial product.