When I was a kid, there was about half a dozen farms with apple orchards near my house. Over time most of those farms were purchased and turned into strip malls that were paradoxically named after the farms they were built on top of. My favorite was TIce's Farm which became Tice's Corner, "an upscale, outdoor shopping center." I used to go there to buy apple cider. Now, I can go there to buy an apple computer at the Apple Store. I think there is something sadly comical about the fact that apples sold at Tice's Corner have been marked up some 2000% from the apples sold at Tice's Farm.
Anyway, across the street from Tice's Corner is an A&P which used to be Van Riper's Farm. All that remains of that farm is an almost unnoticeable gaudy mural near the ceiling of the store's entrance. I mainly bring this up because every Halloween, people from near and far would go to Van Riper's Farm and visit their awesome haunted house, climb on bales of hay and pick out the perfect pumpkin for a jack-o-lantern. Lastly, before leaving Van Riper's, you would end your visit by buying a bunch of freshly baked apple cider donuts.
Once you had the donuts, the obvious thing to do was to walk across the street to Tice's farm and get freshly made apple cider (on tap). Obviously, because both of these places are now strip malls, you can no longer do this. The farms are gone, the haunted house is gone, the fields of pumpkins are gone, the apple cider is gone and needless to say, the apple cider donuts are gone. In short, Halloween as I knew it, is pretty much gone. It's all rather upsetting. So, when someone emailed me this apple cider donut recipe at The Smitten Kitchen, I knew, for the sake of Halloween, I had to make it. And so I did make it. It was fantastic. Follows is what I did.
Step 1: Go Get Stuff
You will need:
1/2 stick butter
1 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons baking power
1 teaspoon baking soda
3-1/2 cups of flour (+ some)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup of buttermilk
A lot of vegetable oil
A donut cutter
2 Baking sheets
2 large bowls
An electric mixer
A deep frying pan
A candy thermometer
Misc kitchen equipment
Step 2: Heat the Apple Cider
Pour a cup of apple cider into a small pan or bowl. Heat it over a low flame for about 30 minutes and/or until there is about 1/4 cup of apple cider left.
Step 3: Flour Mixture
Sift together in a large bowl your 3-1/2 cups of flour, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg.
Step 4: Cookie Trays
Cover two cookie trays with wax paper and set them aside for later.
Step 5: Sugar Butter
With a mixing spoon, thoroughly combine the softened half stick of butter with the cup of sugar.
Step 6: Add Eggs
Mix in two eggs, one at a time. Start by mixing them in with your spoon and as the mixture gets softer, you can use a pastry blender to better combine them.
Step 7: Cider and Buttermilk
With your pastry blender set to low, slowly add in your cider and buttermilk.
Step 8: Add the Flour Mixture
In steps, add your flour mixture in with your wet ingredients. By the time you mix in all of your flour, the dough should be well and formed.
Step 9: Press It Out
Take one of the cookie trays and cover it with a generous amount of flour.
Scoop your dough out of the bowl and onto the tray.
Place more flour atop the dough and then press it flat onto the tray, stopping when it is about half an inch thick.
Put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
Step 10: Preheat the Oil
Attach your candy thermometer to a deep baking dish (or large pot).
Fill your baking dish with 2" of oil and heat over a burner on a medium flame. Your goal is to heat the oil to between 350 and 375 degrees.
While the oil heats, you can cut out your doughnuts (see step 11).
Step 11: Cut Up the Dough
Line the second baking sheet with flour.
Using a donut cutter (or 1" and 3" cookie cutters), but out donuts and donut holes from the dough. Try to cut out the donuts as close together as possible. When you are done cutting out the first set of donuts, you can re-roll and pat out the dough and cut out some more. Continue doing this until all the dough is used.
When done, refrigerate the dough for about 15 minutes until it is no longer sticky.
Step 12: Fry
When the oil has reached 350 degrees, very carefully place the donuts into the frying pan. They should first sink and then after a few moments float to the surface. Let them float on each side for about a minute (until golden brown) Be careful not to cook too many at once or the oil will bubble over and create a mess.
I found a good pair of long metal tongs were indispensable in this process.
When they are done frying, place them on a plate lined with paper towels and then put a paper towel over top of the as well to soak up oil on both sides.
Step 13: Donut Time!