The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.
Every year we go to Terhune Orchards for some apple picking. When they have their apple festival, the tantalizing scent of freshly pressed apple cider and just fried apple cider doughnuts is in the air.
One Sunday after the challenge was announced, we were feeling a bit glum. Time to make the apple cider doughnuts!I took a look at the pumpkin cake doughnuts on Epicurious and noticed that is was quite similar to a popular recipe for apple cider doughnuts. The main difference was the lack of pumpkin puree (obviously) and the inclusion of reduced apple cider (also obviously). The apple cider doughnut recipe also had less spices and less baking powder. In terms of spices, I upped the cinnamon to the amount in the pumpkin doughnuts, and added the other spices in that recipe, but in much smaller amounts. I didn’t have buttermilk, so I used YoBaby peach yogurt. I would have used the apple yogurt flavor, but I can’t find it lately.
Reducing the cider was a pain, and the doughnuts really only sang with cider flavor when I drank some cider with them. If I would make them again, I would (a) bake them, and (b) skip the reducing step and just use regular cider and apple yogurt combined together as my liquid for the recipe. The spices in the doughnuts also could have been increased even more, although the cinnamon sugar dredging gave plenty of spiciness,
This experience confirmed my dislike of deep frying. I had a deep frying thermometer, but I had a hard time controlling the temperature of the oil. The oil went from too hot to not hot enough.
Also, I really don’t like cake doughnuts. I am more of a (plain cinnamon sugar dusted) yeast doughnut person. But, it was fun to try making cake doughnuts, and freshly made doughnuts definitely brightened up a rainy, glum Sunday.
A few days later, I couldn’t resist trying the yeast doughnut recipe by Alton Brown, but I couldn’t face another vat of oil. I baked the doughnuts for 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees, convection mode. Before baking, I generously sprayed the dough with oil. After baking and before dredging with cinnamon sugar, I sprayed them again with more oil.
The results were very much like regular fried doughnuts. The crust did not look or taste the same, but the interior looked and tasted exactly the same. If I had dipped the doughnuts in chocolate glaze (which obscures the color and texture of the crust), it would have been impossible to tell that they weren’t fried.
It was also nearly impossible to tell that I used cider instead of milk in the dough. The taste was so subtle it would have been the same if I had used water. I used Crisco in the dough, but oil would have been fine, too, I think.
If I were inclined to fry, this is the perfect recipe for making doughnuts. I would make baked doughnuts again in a heartbeat, and I might use this recipe to make sufganiyot come Chanukah.
Here is one more thing: Pizza Doughnuts. Our DB host suggested savory doughnuts, and I filled a few doughnuts with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese:
I think these would be awesome fried with a whole stick of mozzarella inside, kind of a cross between mozzarella sticks and doughnuts.