Fall is definitely the theme of my blog posts this month!! First we had butternut squash apple soup, and now, apple cider donuts. YUM. Cider donuts scream fall! A few weeks ago when my friend Jenn and I went apple picking (referenced in this "Yum Yam Smoothie" post ;-)), we had what I deemed at the time, "the best cider donuts I've ever had." Well, that has since changed. I now think that this homemade recipe is the all-time winner!! It's not my own recipe, so I really can't take the credit...but it was a delicious recipe that I'd highly recommend if you want to try making your own and comparing them to others you've had from the orchards! My sister told me the donut I gave her (that I made in this batch) was the best she's ever had, so I'm going to go with her opinion. :)
Onward to the recipe! I followed the cider donut recipe of Our Best Bites, an awesome blog. You can read the recipe here. The only thing I'd warn about this recipe is that it does take some time... So only make this if you have 2 or 3 hours to spend in the kitchen! Granted, you're not necessarily working that whole time (the dough needs to chill for a while), but it was a fairly lengthy recipe from start to finish. It wasn't difficult though, I promise!
And now, pictures of my first attempt at making homemade donuts!
The all important spices - cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg!
And the *star* of the show, the apple cider. :)
Here is the cider, reducing on the stove.
This is the shortening and sugar being mixed... I took an "action" shot while the mixer was running. Can you see it moving?? Also, fyi - the recipe calls for butter-flavored shortening but I just used vegetable shortening, since that's what I had on hand. I don't think it made a difference!
The recipe calls for buttermilk... Well, I had purchased buttermilk a week or two before making these donuts because I had originally planned to make them sooner than I did. Anyway, even though the date on the buttermilk was still good, it had gone bad! :( My first hurdle in the donut making process.... What to do? In most recipes that call for buttermilk, I usually just substitute yogurt (which you can see pictured above). However, for some reason, I thought that it might just not turn out right if I used yogurt in this recipe. So what I did instead was combine regular milk with a bit of vinegar (as described here), and voila, I had a buttermilk substitute! Somehow I thought this would be a better substitute than yogurt. Who knows if it was, but it seemed to work just fine!
Milk + vinegar = "buttermilk"
This is the cider, reduced to just 1/4 cup (down from 1 cup!) after cooking on the stove. This had to cool down in the fridge before it was added to the rest of the dough.
Here's the final dough with all the dry and wet ingredients combined!
The recipe says to roll out the dough between layers of saran wrap and then put it in the fridge or freezer for a bit before working with it.
Three of these four donuts look okay...not sure what's up with that fourth one in the top right corner! I didn't end up frying that one. Instead, I incorporated it back into the rest of the dough and made a second attempt at forming it.
Heating the oil! I used my candy thermometer so I'd know when it was at the right temp (325 degrees).
Here are the first three! I have never fried anything in oil before this. I was a bit nervous about it at first, but it really wasn't quite as difficult or "scary" as I expected it to be.
Here are a couple I did later on - you can see the bottoms are starting to get that nice golden brown color.
And below here are the first few, draining on paper towels. As you can see, my first ones weren't really the best... The one on the left didn't cook thoroughly. In the end, I broke that one up into smaller pieces and put them back into the oil to fry again.
I actually kind of "gave up" early on in the process on making full-sized donuts after I had made only a handful of them. I decided that donut holes were MUCH easier and fun. So that's what I ended up making for the majority of them!! All I had to do was just roll the dough into a ball in my hands. No dough cutter needed!
This part was really fun - shaking them in the bag of the cinnamon sugar mixture!!
Here are several of the final products, all nicely coated in deliciousness (a.k.a. cinnamon sugar). My mouth is starting to water as I type...
Here are a couple of the regular-sized donuts that did turn out pretty well in terms of their appearance!
I brought most of the donuts I made into work for my coworkers (it was my day to bring in breakfast for our weekly lab meeting). The homemade donuts were a success! I caught a few coworkers sneaking more than one donut hole. ;-) I reeeally liked these donuts, and I do want to make them again when I have the time!
I also brought in pumpkin bread for lab meeting that day...and you know what, I think pumpkin bread will be my next blog post!! I must keep with the fall-themed flavors, you know. See you again soon!