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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Recipe Round Up: Apple Cider Doughnuts

I was looking for a recipe for cider doughnuts and found a few that I really liked. I cobbled them together to come up with my own recipe. Let me tell you, these are the best apple fritters you will ever eat. I make another kind that is quick and easy to make, and leavened with baking powder, that I will post another time. Since apples are generally available all year round, those are simple to whip up as a treat, and also delicious. These, though. These are yeast risen and full of depth and the flavors are layered perfectly. This is a fall only recipe. Using fresh pressed cider will make the best doughnuts. Store bought from the refrigerator section will be alright. Regular juice won't cut it, in my opinion. It's better to wait until the fall cider presses are out again to make them. You will reduce the cider to a concentrate and use it in both the dough and the glaze. I love using my bread machine for doughs like this. If you wish to make the dough by hand or use a stand mixer, that will work just fine.

3 cups apple cider

2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup apple cider concentrate
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon (I use Ceylon, but any cinnamon you like will work)
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
oil for frying

Apple Filling:
4 medium apples, cored, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt

Cider Glaze:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, very soft
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup apple cider concentrate
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Before doing anything else, pour the apple cider into a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer or low boil. Cook the cider until it reduces by two thirds, leaving 1 cup (or a little more) remaining. This may take up to 45 minutes or more. Divide the concentrate in half and set aside. This step can be done up to four days ahead. Store the cider, covered, in the refrigerator.

Put all ingredients except for the oil into your bread machine pan and run on a dough cycle.

While the dough is being made, prepare the apple filling. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and put the butter and sugar in it to melt, stirring occasionally. When it has melted, add the apples, cinnamon, vanilla extract, apple cider vinegar, and salt. Cook the apples, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated from the pan. This can take up to 20 minutes, but can be affected by numerous variables. Take off heat and cool to room temperature.

When the dough cycle is complete, dust a work surface with flour, punch down the dough and turn it out onto your board. Pat or roll it into a rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Spread half the apple mixture over one half of the rectangle. Fold the other half of the dough over the apples and press to seal the apples in the dough. Pat the dough out into a rectangle again, flouring the board and the dough as necessary, and taking care not to tear the dough. Cover half of the dough with the remaining apples, and fold it over itself again, sealing the apples in the dough. Pat the dough into another thin rectangle again.

Flour or line two baking sheets with parchment or wax paper. Use a bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut the dough into about 1 inch squares. Take 3 pieces and press them together, pinching and patting to help them stick together. If apples poke out, this is fine. Place on a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining pieces.

Cover the fritters with a clean kitchen towel and let rise for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

While they rise, make the glaze. Whisk together the butter and sugar, then drizzle in the cider concentrate, vanilla extract, and salt, and whisk to produce a smooth, pourable liquid.

About half way through the final rise, pour oil into a deep pan for frying, and heat over medium high heat, until a piece of bread sizzles when inserted into the oil. Set aside another pan with a rack over it to drain the doughnuts after frying.

Once the fritters have risen properly, place the fritters in the oil, without crowding, and fry them for about a minute on each side, until they are golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on rack over pan to drain and cool a minute while you fry the rest in batches.

When the fritters have cooled a few minutes, drizzle with glaze. I do this in two steps, using about half on the fritters at first, then letting them cool some more and pouring the rest of the glaze on them in a second layer later. Let the glaze set a bit, 10 - 15 minutes, and serve warm or room temperature.

These can keep for several days in an airtight container at room temperature, but you will probably eat them all. Recipe makes about 20 - 25 fritters.

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