Is it fall until you’ve picked your perfect pumpkin at the pumpkin patch, filled a basket with sweet crunchy apples from your local apple orchard to bake a pie, jumped in a leaf pile and snuggled up in a blanket with a cup of hot apple cider and an apple cider donut? If you enjoy all these fall things as much as I do, you’re going to love these high altitude baked apple cider doughnuts. They’re full of apple flavor, thanks to an apple cider reduction, perfectly spiced, so soft and fluffy, and coated in cinnamon sugar for a sweet and crunchy finish.
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- Apple Cider. Reducing apple cider down to a concentrated syrup adds wonderful flavor to these doughnuts.
- Apple Sauce. Keeps the doughnuts moist and fluffy.
- Unsalted Butter. Moisture and flavor.
- Egg. Adds structure and binds the batter together.
- Vanilla Extract. Flavor.
- Dark Brown Sugar. Adds sweetness and moisture.
- All-Purpose Flour. Gives the doughnuts strength and structure.
- Spices. A blend of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg complements the flavor of the apple cider.
- Salt. Balances the sweetness.
- Baking Soda. Leavens the doughnut batter so they rise.
Apple Cider Reduction
The key to a strong apple flavor in baked goods is to use an apple cider reduction. Basically, you’ll just be simmering your apple cider on the stove to let some of the water evaporate, leaving behind a more concentrated liquid. For today’s recipe, you’ll be starting with 1 1/2 cups of cider, and reducing it to 1/2 cup, so it will be 1/3 of its original volume. If you were to use the apple cider without reducing it first, the apple cider donuts would still taste delicious, but the apple flavor won’t be as prominent.
You would use this same process to make boiled cider, which I use in my Appledoodles. Boiled cider, though, is far more concentrated, as the cider is reduced even longer to nearly 1/8 of its original volume, until it becomes a thick, sweet apple syrup. I’ve made my own homemade boiled cider using King Arthur Baking’s method, but you can also buy bottled boiled cider to use in all sorts of baking recipes, or as a sweet sauce to drizzle over ice cream.
Make the Apple Cider Reduction.
So first, make your apple cider reduction and then let it cool for about 30 minutes. You can also make the reduction the day before, to save time in the morning when you’re baking your apple cider doughnuts.
Whisk Together the Liquid Ingredients.
After cooling your apple cider reduction, whisk it together with applesauce, melted butter, an egg, vanilla extract, and dark brown sugar.
Sift in the Dry Ingredients.
Now sift together your flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, baking soda, and salt, and whisk together with the liquid ingredients.
Bake the Doughnuts.
You’ll need a doughnut pan (or two, as this recipe makes 12 doughnuts) for your baked apple cider doughnuts, since these are baked, not fried. Be sure to spray your pans with non-stick baking spray. The batter isn’t very thick, so you can either spoon it into your pan, or use a piping bag with the end snipped off to pipe it into the rings of your pans, filling the rings about halfway full. The doughnuts bake quickly, in about 11-12 minutes, and puff up into the fluffiest doughnuts you’ll ever taste.
If you only have one pan, just bake 6 doughnuts at a time, letting the remaining batter rest. Then bake the next batch of doughnuts while the first batch cools.
Coat in Cinnamon Sugar.
This last step is what makes the doughnuts look so beautiful. A sparkly coat of cinnamon and sugar just looks so pretty. To get the cinnamon sugar to stick to your baked apple cider doughnuts, you’ll need to use a little butter. Some recipes call for dunking the doughnuts into a bowl of melted butter, but I find that method allows the doughnuts to soak up way too much butter, resulting in a greasy, too-rich doughnut. A much better way is to dip a pastry brush in your melted butter and just lightly brush it onto your doughnuts. Then coat the doughnuts in your cinnamon sugar mixture.
These doughnuts are best served warm, fresh from the oven. But if you have leftovers the next day, they’re still just as soft and flavorful.
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High Altitude Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts
All recipes on Curly Girl Kitchen are developed for high altitude at 5,280 feet. See FAQs for adjusting to higher or lower elevations.
- Doughnut Pan
- 1 ½ cups apple cider, reduced to 1/2 cup (or 1/2 cup apple cider concentrate or boiled cider)
- ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pour the apple cider into a saucepan. Over medium heat, let the cider simmer until it's reduced to 1/2 cup. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes, or make it a day or two in advance.
- Preheat the oven to 375, and spray two standard doughnut pans (6 doughnuts each) with nonstick spray. If you only have one pan, you can just bake half the batter at a time.
- In a bowl, whisk together the cooled reduced cider with the applesauce, melted butter, egg, vanilla and brown sugar.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, spices, baking soda and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and whisk until combined.
- Either spoon the batter into the greased pans, or fill a piping bag, snip off the end, and pipe the batter into the pans.
- Bake the doughnuts on the center oven rack until risen and cooked through, about 11-12 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 4-5 minutes, then gently turn out onto a cooling rack.
- To coat the doughnuts, dip a pastry brush in the melted butter and lightly brush the warm doughnuts with the butter. Coat in the cinnamon/sugar mixture.
- These doughnuts are best served warm and fresh.
- The leftover doughnuts are still fantastic, though, and should be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.