By Kat Wojtylak
Fall is officially here in every sense of the season. The temperatures are starting to relent and the beautiful bounty of fall is apparent in the harvests. This is the time too that many of us start using our oven way more readily to heat up the house and leave everything smelling oh so delicious. While I’m the first to grab gallons of cider, one of my weaknesses comes with cider donuts. There just isn’t anything like visiting your local apple orchard and being greeted with fresh cider and those fried morsels of heaven.
Leaving out the greasy goodness of donuts, an emerging trend has been on the rise and that’s with baked donuts. Thank goodness for a little health where there really wasn’t any! Depending on the recipe, you can simply close your eyes and be none the wiser when it comes to detecting fried versus baked. I got a donut hole pan which I’ve been itching to try so I decided to give it a whirl. After several attempts, I realized that the recipe absolutely makes the difference. While you’ll never get a typical donut (or at least from what I’ve tried), I’ve found the cake-like donuts work very well in this instance.
For starters, you’ll need a really good non-stick pan. I purchased my pan from Wilton. What I like about this version is that I didn’t have to use oil, I tried but it just kept pooling at the bottom so I finally gave up. That just meant less calories! Because I only had the one sided pan, I was left with a two-toned colored donut sphere, browned where it touched the pan, and a beige where the batter rose and domed. There are versions like the King Arthur Flour pan that come with a top and bottom so you do get more even coloring.
In the recipe I cut corners where I thought I could as I didn’t want to sacrifice taste. I used healthier oils such as sunflower and grape seed oil. Vegetable oil just really isn’t that good for you because of how it’s processed. With your oils it’s best to choose ones that are cold pressed and are light in flavor. Those can be subbed out in most recipes seamlessly and with more health benefits. The addition of whole wheat flour helps to restore some of those missing nutrients, but if you’re not a big fan, sub out for your favorite all purpose or gluten free flour. Lastly due to my own lack of self control, I made the donut holes to help me get a taste of what I “needed” without over indulging.
For equestrians and health conscious people alike, this recipe warrants a full of flavor donut with less calories than the fried version. It’s perfect for brunches, a quick breakfast for the family or a fun after dinner snack. Served with cider, there’s no better way to enjoy a crisp fall day in less time than it takes to wash a batch of laundry.
To full plates and eating your tarte out.
Baked Apple Cider Donuts
Makes 20 donut holes, 12 mini donuts or 6 regular sized donuts
2 tablespoons of butter, room temperature
1/8 cup of sunflower or grape seed oil
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of apple pie spice or nutmeg
1 1/3 cups of flour, preferably whole wheat
1/4 cup of cider
1/4 cup of milk
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Ready your baking pan, in this recipe you can use a mini muffin pan if you don’t have a donut hole pan (if you use a mini muffin pan preheat your oven to 425 degrees). Grease as per the directions of your pan manufacturer.
In a large bowl, mix together the butter, oil and sugars until well blended. Next add in the vanilla and egg until incorporated. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix together until just incorporated.
Place an even amount of batter into each well of the pan, a heaping teaspoon should do. Repeat until batter is used up. Place pan into oven and bake for about fifteen minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes.
Gently remove donut holes from pan and allow to cool on a rack for another five minutes. At this point the donut holes should be slightly warm to the touch. Depending on your preference, you can coat the donuts at this stage or serve immediately.
To coat in powdered sugar, add 1/2 cup of confectioners sugar to a bowl. Roll donut holes around till coated. You can also place them in a paper bag and shake till coated (be careful to not be to rough in your shaking or the donuts may break apart). If wanting sugar coated donuts, combine 1/4 cup of sugar with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Either place in a bowl or paper bag to coat. Serve immediately. These donuts are also great served with maple syrup as a substitute for pancakes!
About the writer: Author Kat Wojtylak is a horse enthusiast turned food blogger. She maintains a day job in the horse world handling marketing and brand support to various companies, while enjoying her evenings and weekends writing recipes and blogging all about her culinary experiences. Visit her blog at EatYourTarteOut.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.