These delicious Baked Apple Cider Donuts are baked in the oven and dusted in cinnamon sugar- they’re the perfect fall treat!
Few ingredients evoke feelings of fall as much as apples. I grew up in New York and I have fond memories of going apple picking once summer ended and the weather cooled down. Now that I live in South Florida, I don’t really get to experience the change of seasons anymore and there’s definitely no apple picking down here. But when autumn rolls around, I still crave those typical fall foods and flavors. We have a lot of local farms down here and I love taking my kids to pick fresh strawberries, tomatoes, peppers and even sunflowers. There’s one farm in particular we love to visit because they sell the most delicious apple cider donuts. You can smell their irresistible scent as soon as you walk in the front gate. They’re incredibly soft and warm and dusted in cinnamon sugar. That donut stand always has the longest line but it’s definitely worth the wait!
I decided to try my hand at making some apple cider donuts at home and the result was amazing! These donuts are fluffy and moist with a cake-like crumb and are full of apple and cinnamon spice flavor. They’re also really easy to make. In fact, the hardest part about making these donuts was being able to resist eating them all before we were done photographing them!
To make my donuts a bit healthier, I bake them in the oven instead of frying them. I also incorporate some whole grains into the dish by using a mixture of white whole wheat flour along with all purpose flour. But ultimately, these donuts are a treat, so go ahead and enjoy them!
How to Make Baked Apple Cider Donuts:
To make these donuts, you simply whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and whisk the wet ingredients in another bowl. Then you combine the wet and dry ingredients together. This is super easy because it’s all done by hand- no mixer needed. Then you spoon or pipe the batter into donut trays and pop them in the oven. After 10-12 minutes, your kitchen will smell divine and you’ll have a dozen delicious donuts ready to be devoured. You can enjoy them straight from the oven but for the perfect finishing touch, I brush them with a little melted butter and roll them in cinnamon sugar, which gives them a delightful crunch.
How to Make the Apple Cider Reduction:
An apple cider reduction is what gives these donuts their rich apple taste. You make the apple cider reduction by simmering fresh apple cider in a saucepan on the stove for about 20 minutes. As the water evaporates, the apple cider will become thicker and syrupy with a concentrated apple flavor. It’s like a flavor bomb! Don’t skip this step. If you add the apple cider to the batter without reducing it first, the apple taste will be very faint.
Be sure you’re using apple cider and not apple cider vinegar, which is a completely different product.
Chef’s Tips for Baked Apple Cider Donuts:
- When reducing the apple cider, keep an eye on the saucepan. Simmer the cider over medium heat and check it often, stirring it occasionally so that it doesn’t’ scorch. The process takes about 20 minutes so you may want to do this step the night before.
- As with most baking recipes, you should use room temperature ingredients like eggs and buttermilk.
- Don’t overmix the batter. The batter will have some small lumps in it- that’s ok. You want the donuts to have a delicate crumb and if you mix the batter too much, they will be dense and heavy.
- If you don’t have a donut pan, you can make donut holes instead. Use a 24-cup mini muffin tin and fill the wells about halfway full with the batter.
What If I Don’t Have Buttermilk?
If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make your own buttermilk! Simply stir 1 ½ teaspoons of lemon juice into ½ cup of milk (any type). Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes until it thickens slightly and small curds form. Then use it as directed in the recipe.
How Do I Store Baked Apple Cider Donuts?
These donuts are best when served immediately. However, they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure the donuts are completely cool before storing them in containers. This will help prevent them from getting soggy.
Baked Apple Cider Donuts
- 1 ½ cups apple cider
- 2 cups flour (I use a mixture of all purpose and white whole wheat flour)
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ cup buttermilk, room temperature
- ¾ light brown sugar or coconut sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Cinnamon sugar topping
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 °F. Brush two 6-cavity donut baking pans with melted butter or spray with cooking spray. If making donut holes, use two 24-cup mini muffin pans.
- Heat the apple cider in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until it has reduced to ½ cup, stirring occasionally. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let the reduced cider cool. This step can be done ahead of time and the cider can be refrigerated.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and salt together in a large bowl.
- Whisk the reduced apple cider, buttermilk, sugar, egg, vanilla and melted butter together in a large bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined (the batter will have some small lumps). Do not overmix.
- Spoon or pipe the batter into the prepared donut pans, filling the wells about ¾ full. You can make a piping bag by taking a large zipped-top bag and cutting one of the corners off. If making donut holes, spoon or pipe the batter into a mini muffin pan, filling the wells about ½ full.
- Bake donuts in the oven for 10-12 minutes until puffed up and lightly browned. Bake donut holes for 9-10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes. Transfer donuts to a wire rack.
- To make the cinnamon sugar topping, mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl. Brush the tops of the donuts with a little melted butter and then dip them in the cinnamon sugar, coating them well.
- The donuts are best when served immediately. They can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months.
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