Monday, November 7, 2011

Apple Cider Doughnut Holes

I have had zero experience with frying, unless you count bacon, in which case I have had tons of experience frying things.  Every time I've had to heat up oil for something, it's always too hot and the second I try to add something the oil spatters back in my face and burns what ever I'm trying to fry or sauté.  Not a fun experience to be sure.

Over the past couple of months I've been reading so many entries about doughnuts.  Buttermilk doughnuts, banana doughnuts, pina colada doughnuts, and finally apple cider doughnuts.  I knew I could simply drink the apple cider I made the other week, but what's the fun in that?  Why not reduce it, add it to some dough, and fry it up?  All of the recipes I had read made it sound so easy, it would be remiss of me to not give it a try.

Well, I am SO glad I did.  Frying is super easy!  I had about 2 quarts of shortening so I decided to use that instead of oil for my frying (less smoke than oil and honestly how much icing am I going to make from 2 quarts of shortening?).   To fry with shortening, you just have to melt it over medium heat, which takes a matter of minutes.  It'll start as this light golden color, but once it starts to get a little deeper in color and bubbles start to form then you know you're ready to go.  It takes some trial and error, but once you get your frying method down, everything comes out beautifully from there.

I originally wanted these to be real doughnuts and doughnut holes, but at 9:00 at night, rolling out the dough and cutting it into doughnuts seemed like too much of a hassle.  So I decided to spoon out the batter into the oil and just stick with the doughnut holes.  I made my own apple cider, I'm allowed to be a little lazy.   If you would like to go through all of that, simply flour a board and rolling pin, roll out the dough, and then used two different sized circle cookie cutters to cut out your doughnuts (the middle cutter should be about 2 inches smaller in diameter than the big cutter).  Save the circles you cut out of the center for the doughnut holes.

The first night I made these doughnuts, they came out kind of messy.  They were too big, so the insides wouldn't cook while the outside got a dark brown.  Plus they didn't have a very nice shape since I was using a spoon and then my finger to get the doughnuts off of the spoon.  I wasn't happy with the way they came out, but my friends definitely didn't seem to notice as we wolfed them down in less than an hour.  I saved the other half of the batter for the next day.

As I was heating my shortening and looking at my bowl of doughnut dough, I tried to come up with a better way of getting the dough from the bowl and into the sizzling oil in one, neatly formed ball.  Then it hit me: a melon baller!  DUH!!  The melon baller is the perfect size for making doughnut holes.  It may seem small, but the baking powder in the recipe causes the  doughnuts to expand a lot.  I got these perfectly sized doughnuts that were golden brown on the outside and fully cooked throughout.  I made about 3 dozen more in about an hour.  Well, 3 dozen minus about 6. maybe 8....

If the oil/shortening becomes dark while you're frying, throw it out and start over with new oil/shortening.  If the frying oil is dark it's usually a sign that it is too hot, which will result in unevenly fried doughnut holes.  You could also, of course, use a thermometer to make sure your oil doesn't dip below about 300F, but if you don't have a candy thermometer and aren't sure if you can stick your meat thermometer into sizzling shortening, just keep an eye on the color.  To keep the oil at a steady heat and to make things easier on yourself, only fry about 3 doughnut holes at a time.  This way, you can use a smaller pot and less frying oil and you can watch all of your doughnuts to make sure they come out golden brown.  Believe me, they need less than 3 minutes for each side if your oil is hot enough.
Please ignore the mutant doughnut. 

On a whim, either I or my mom bought this cinnamon sugar grinder, which worked perfectly for coating the doughnut holes.  You can roll your doughnut holes in ground cinnamon and sugar the second they come out of the frying pan, but I just used this grinder and sprinkled some cinnamon and sugar on my doughnuts.  Honestly, they were delicious either way.

So moral of the story, I came out of this frying experience unscathed!  These doughnut holes were so fun and easy to make.  This recipe makes a ton of doughnuts, so make sure you serve it at a place full of ravenous people, like an ultimate frisbee tournament (which ended up getting canceled for snow but most of the doughnuts were somehow snatched up anyways).  With the holidays right around the corner, this would be a cute thing to serve after Thanksgiving or even (dare I say it?) Christmas dinner - it would make an adorable edible centerpiece.  Happy frying!

Apple Cider Doughnut Holes
Makes about 4 dozen doughnut holes
-       2 cups apple cider
-       3 ½ c flour
-       2 tsp baking powder
-       1 tsp baking soda
-       1 ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
-       Dash nutmeg, allspice, cloves
-       ½ tsp salt
-       4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
-       ½ c sugar
-       ½  c brown sugar
-       2 lg eggs, room temperature
-       1 ¼ tsp vanilla extract
-       ½ c buttermilk
Vegetable oil or shortening for frying

In a saucepan over medium heat, reduce the apple cider to about 1/3 c.  Set aside to cool.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt and set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and the sugars.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add the reduced apple cider, then add half of the dry mix.  Add the buttermilk, then add the remaining dry mix.  Chill the dough for about 20 minutes.

When ready to fry, heat a medium-sized skillet or pot over medium heat and add the oil or the shortening.  Remove the dough from the refrigerator and use a melon baller to scoop out the dough, dropping a few pieces into the oil at a time.  When the doughnut holes are golden brown (about 2 to 3 minutes each side), remove them from the oil and allow them to cool on a wire rack with a  paper towel underneath.  Roll in cinnamon and sugar if desired.  

Adapted from The Galley Gourmet


  1. Yay recipies! Those donuts look delicious. I'm so excited to read about your adventures!

    And ps, I think the 'quarterlife crisis' is more common than you think. Mine's been going strong for the past year :)

  2. These are fantastic. Love donut holes. Very creative using a baller. I get nervous using a pot on the stove for frying as I have a gas stove. So I bought a deep fryer. They are great but I have to say if you make a wide variety of stuff in it you tend to spend alot of time changing the oil. lol

  3. Yum! They sound absolutely delicious!


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