Okay, I’m cheating on my last day of Christmas cookies.
Once again, donuts tempted me out of the actual cookie-baking tradition. But I made these donuts into squares, rather than the traditional donut shape in an attempt to fool you into believing they are actually more like cookies.
Let me explain why I NEEDED to make these donuts. Last Christmas (yes, we are traveling back to events a full year ago that inspired these donuts), we spent the holidays in Michigan with my family (yay, snow!). My parents live really close to this fruit orchard/bakery/cider mill, where we enjoyed fresh apple cider donuts. And a year later, I am still thinking about those fresh apple cider donuts. As soon as Autumn arrived in Portland this year, I began the quest for a batch of my own. Apparently, that is not a thing in Oregon. I read all of these internet forums with other lost souls searching the Pacific Northwest for apple cider donuts, and everyone appeared to agree that you just can’t get them here. I had no idea that apple cider donuts were a midwestern delicacy.
I still held out hope when we discovered the Hood River Harvest Festival, so we drove over an hour, paid to get in, and then were horribly disappointed when there we NO APPLE CIDER DONUTS. I seriously almost cried. (It did not help that the place we picked for brunch was out of bacon. It was a sad day for eating.)
And so we returned to Portland, still determined to find fresh apple cider donuts. After a lot of searching, I found a place that claimed to make great donuts. I drove the 30-ish minutes to get there, brought the donuts home, bit into one, and threw the rest of it away. Not good, folks.
And so, Autumn came and went without a fresh apple cider donut. And I, being the donut snob that I am, refused to settle for a sub-par replacement. But during a trip down the aisles of Trader Joe’s, it occurred to me that I could make my own apple cider donuts! And I could pretend they were cookies and tell you all about them! Win, win, win! So I bought the bottle of Trader Joe’s apple cider and made these donuts.
I used Smitten Kitchen’s apple cider donut recipe, but slightly adapted it and baked them instead. Partly because that made them slightly less indulgent, partly because I hate the smell of things being fried, and partly because if I just baked them, they would possibly pass for cookies.
These tasted really good baked. But I guarantee they would be better fried. Because if we’re being honest, a fried donut is always better than a baked donut disguised as a cookie. And obviously, you could cut these into a traditional donut shape or bake them in a donut pan if you aren’t trying to fool people into believing they are cookies.
The best part is, these are nice and flavorful. You can really taste the apple cider, along with the glorious cinnamon-sugar combination that really should top everything coming out of the oven.
If you’d prefer the original fried donut, head over to Smitten Kitchen and follow her recipe.
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider
- 1 cup sugar
- 1½ tablespoons cinnamon
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, reduce the apple cider to about ¼ cup, 20 to 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Combine the flours, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, and continue to beat until the eggs are incorporated.
- Add the reduced apple cider and the buttermilk, mixing just until combined. Add the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and sprinkle with flour. Move the dough to the baking sheet and sprinkle the top with flour. Flatten the dough with your hands until it is about ½ inch thick, using more flour, if necessary. Transfer the dough to the freezer until it is slightly hardened, about 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Take the dough out of the freezer and cut into the shape of your choice. (I did 2-inch squares.) Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes.
- While the donuts are baking, make your glaze by stirring together the powdered sugar and apple cider. In another small bowl, stir together sugar and cinnamon.
- After removing the donuts from the oven, allow them to cool for a few minutes before dipping the top in the glaze, followed by the cinnamon sugar topping. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.
Be sure to check out the rest of my half of the 12 days of Christmas cookies: