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Vermont Apple Cider Donuts

by in Sep 2011

Total Time: 1.5

Yield: about 18 3-inch doughnuts

It's a cider maker's tradition to use some of the freshly pressed juice to make lightly tangy, apple-scented doughnuts like these. The cider adds more than flavor, though; its acidity makes the doughnuts tenderer. I have two favorite spots for buying these treats: Atkins Farms in Amherst, Massachusetts (atkinsfarms.com), and Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center, Vermont (coldhollow.com). When I can't be there, I make homemade apple cider donuts.

See how to make this recipe for homemade apple cider donuts with instructions and photos.
Vermont Apple Cider Donuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons table salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup boiled apple cider
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Canola or safflower oil (for frying)
  • Cinnamon sugar (1-1/2 cups sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon) or confectioners' sugar

Instructions:

In a large bowl using a hand-held or standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together sugar and butter until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-6 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating a minute after each. In a medium-size bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg; set aside.

Pour buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla into sugar/butter/egg mixture. Mix well, and don't worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled; it'll smooth itself out. Add flour mixture and combine gently just until fully moistened.

Line two baking sheets with waxed paper or parchment paper and dust generously with flour. Turn dough out onto one baking sheet and pat gently into 3/4-inch-thickness. Sprinkle dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. Remove dough from the freezer; use a lightly floured 3-inch doughnut cutter (or two concentric biscuit cutters) to cut out about 18 doughnuts with holes. (You may gather the scraps and roll again as needed, but you may need to chill the dough more to firm it up.) Place cut doughnuts on the other baking sheet as you go; then transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again.

Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels and set it nearby. In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 370° (test with an instant-read thermometer). Drop 3 or 4 doughnuts into the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute; then flip and cook until browned on the other side, about 1 minute longer.

Repeat with the remaining dough (if you find that it's getting too soft as you work your way through the batches, pop it into the freezer again for 10 minutes). When doughnuts are cool enough to handle but still warm, sprinkle all over with cinnamon sugar or confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately.

Note: Boiled apple cider gives these apple cider donuts a rich, slightly tangy flavor. You can buy boiled cider at some gourmet and Whole Foods stores; from Wood's Cider Mill in Springfield, Vermont (woodscidermill.com); or from the King Arthur Flour catalogue. Alternatively, you can boil your own cider by simmering 1-1/2 cups of fresh apple cider down to 1/3 cup in about 25 minutes--it just won't be as concentrated as the commercial product.
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Updated Saturday, January 11th, 2014
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11 Responses to Vermont Apple Cider Donuts

  1. Barbara August 26, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

    I first had cider donuts at The Cold Hollow Cider Mill and they’ve been my favorites ever since! Will have to try the ones at Atkins Farm or this recipe. They are my favorite fall treat!

  2. Yasimine August 26, 2014 at 9:48 pm #

    The Apple Barn outside of Bennington Vermont has great apple cider doughnuts!

  3. Shawn Markel September 11, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Do you have a recipe for cider donuts that are baked, in a donut pan?

    • Aimee Seavey September 11, 2014 at 10:02 am #

      Hi Shawn. We don’t have a recipe for baked cider donuts using a donut pan, but you may want to try Cider Doughnut Muffins. They have all the flavor of cider donuts without the frying, and you don’t need a special pan, either. Here’s the recipe http://www.yankeemagazine.com/recipe/cider-doughnut-muffins Enjoy!

  4. Andy Mitchell September 13, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    Entered these donuts in our church’s Apple Festival!

    I kept the dough flat in the freezer between two large sheets of parchment paper and cut just a couple at a time. Less than two minutes at room temperature, the dough became very difficult to work with.

    I also simmered 1 3/4 c. cider for nearly 40 minutes down to 1/3 c. cider syrup. It was plenty thick enough for a rich flavor.

    My wife said, “That’s one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted!”

    Thanks for such a fantastic recipe! It’s nearly impossible to find cider doughnuts in western New York.

  5. Kris snider September 19, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    Question: Does the cider need to cool down before adding it to the mixture, or is it added still hot, like when making dutch babies? Thanks, Can’t wait to make these for our pumpkin patch!

    • Amy Traverso November 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      Hi Kris-

      The cider can be warm, but you don’t want it to be boiling hot. Let it cool for 10 minutes or so…

  6. Joanna November 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    Could the dough for these be made the night before and then chilled overnight? Also I was planning on baking these instead of frying. Would that work with this recipe?

    • Amy Traverso November 13, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

      Hi Joana-

      You can definitely make the dough and let it sit in the fridge overnight. I have never tried baking the donuts and I worry a bit that they wouldn’t rise as well with a slower bake (as opposed to a quick fry). The good news is that I created these delicious Cider Donut Muffins just for cooks like you who aren’t interested in frying donuts: http://www.yankeemagazine.com/recipe/cider-doughnut-muffins.

  7. Paulette November 19, 2014 at 8:53 pm #

    I made the donuts tonight and they were delicious. The only trouble I had was that they browned too quickly (ie. in less than one minute). My thermometer was at 370 degrees when I started putting the dough in the oil but quickly increased to 400 before I got them all in. The finish donuts were a deep, dark brown; nothing like the golden color in our photo. What am I doing wrong?

  8. Amy Traverso November 20, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Hi Paulette-

    You’re not alone! It can be really hard to regulate oil temperature when frying. It sounds like your burner was on a little too high if it kept bringing the temperature up after you put the donuts in (usually adding food cools the oil a bit). I like to use a really big Dutch oven when making these because the more oil you have, the longer it takes to heat up or cool down. Cast iron is ideal for this because it also heats and cools more slowly so you don’t get those jumps in temp. But if you’re in the midst of frying and the donuts are browning too quickly, you can always take the pot off the heat, then reduce the setting on the burner and return the pot once it cools a bit..

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