Apple Cider Donuts

October  4, 2013

Every other Friday, Yossy Arefi from Apt. 2B Baking Co. shares dessert projects that demand a little extra time and effort. Because your weekends should always be sweet.

Today: A recipe for one of our favorite fall traditions, best enjoyed while walking though an orchard. Or the closest city park.

Apple Cider Donuts on Food52

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There is nothing like wandering through an apple orchard on a crisp fall day with a cold cup of apple cider in one hand and a donut in the other. But just in case you can’t make it to the farm this weekend, I have cracked the code to perfect cider donuts at home.

These are fluffy with crunchy exteriors and just a hint of warm spice, and they are the perfect way to welcome the season. These donuts start with a reduced apple cider syrup to pump up the apple flavor, but the real secret is the combination of cake flour and buttermilk in the batter, which produces a very moist and tender crumb. 

More: Pair your donuts with DIY hard cider.

Apple Cider Donuts on Food52

A quick note: The dough for these donuts is very soft and sticky, almost like cookie dough. I highly recommend rolling the dough out on a generously floured piece of parchment paper so it can be easily transferred to the refrigerator if it gets too soft while you are working with it.

Apple Cider Donuts

Makes 10 to 12 donuts, plus donut holes

1 cup apple cider
2 3/4 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening (or lard, if you have it)
1 egg plus one egg yolk
1/3 cup buttermilk

2 1/4-inch and 1 1/4-inch round cookie cutters

Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup sugar, for topping
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, for topping

First, boil and reduce your apple cider until it reduces to 1/3 cup, and then set it aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Sift your dry ingredients, and cream your shortening and sugar together. Add in the egg and egg yolk and mix on high until light and thickened, about 5 minutes. 

Apple Cider Donuts on Food52 

Combine the reduced apple cider and buttermilk. Then alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to your stand mixer, until just combined. The dough will be soft and sticky, much like cookie dough.

Apple Cider Donuts on Food52

Transfer the mixture to a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour or overnight.

When you are ready to roll and fry the donuts, heat a large pot or dutch oven with at least 2 inches of oil over medium heat until the oil reaches 370° F on a candy thermometer. On a generously floured board or piece of parchment paper, gently roll the chilled dough into a circle about 1/2-inch thick and about 8 inches wide. 

Apple Cider Donuts on Food52  Apple Cider Donuts on Food52

Cut as many donuts and holes as possible, making sure to flour the cutters before each cut. Gently re-roll the scraps and cut more holes. If at any time the dough becomes too soft to handle, just put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Apple Cider Donuts on Food52

Place the cut donuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes, until they are slightly firm and easier to handle. While the donuts are chilling, stir together the cinnamon and sugar for the topping in a shallow, wide bowl.

Apple Cider Donuts on Food52  Frying Apple Cider Donuts on Food52

Brush off any excess flour and fry the donuts for about 1 minute per side, being careful not to crowd the pan.

Apple Cider Donuts on Food52

When the donuts are deep golden brown on each side, remove them from the oil, gently blot off excess oil, and toss immediately in the cinnamon sugar. They'll make you excited about the season even if you don't have a field to walk through.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Yossy Arefi

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Yossy Arefi is a photographer and stylist with a passion for food. During her stint working in restaurant kitchens, Yossy started the blog Apt. 2B Baking Co. where, with her trusty Pentax film camera, she photographs and writes about seasonal desserts and preserves. She currently lives in Brooklyn but will always love her native city of Seattle. Follow her work at &


jackandlily October 16, 2014
I made these and they were delicious. Freshly made donuts are definitely a treat.
Cynthia B. October 5, 2014
can you substitute peach cider? Why isn't more peach cider available? (NY area). I had peach cider donuts in Georgia, they were amazing.
zoumonkie October 5, 2014
Can I substitute olive brine for buttermilk?
Laura415 October 6, 2014
This is a substitute I've never heard of. If you are substituting olive brine, (a mixture of water and salt that had olives in it) why would you? Is it for flavor? Buttermilk adds acid for leavening, dairy for tenderness of cake crumb and flavor. How can olive brine substitute for Buttermilk when it does none of those things? I really am respectfully curious. I do like the idea of a savory donut!
ldnmama October 27, 2013
It seems like this recipe is missing baking soda since you are using buttermilk.
marina October 17, 2013
I, too, am wondering if these might be baked or put in a donut maker?
erica October 8, 2013
can these be baked instead? in a donut pan?
TheSlyRaven October 6, 2013
Can I use butter if I don't have shortening or lard??
Yossy A. October 6, 2013
I haven't tried that variation, but it would probably work fine. Just make sure it is nice and soft before you mix it with the sugar.
CookOnTheFly October 4, 2013
Just go to Stew Leonard's for instant satisfaction!
zoumonkie December 13, 2016
Does Stew Leonard's pay tax now?