These Apple cider donuts are made with yeast for a light crumb and deep-fried for crisp texture. I use a special trick for getting the most apple-y flavor in these cider donuts.
If you think all Apple Cider Donuts are the same, this recipe just might change your mind.
Cake Style Donuts Vs. Yeasted Donuts:
Most Cider Donut recipes make “cake style” donuts. That is, the donuts use baking powder and/or baking soda for leavening. So the texture is more cakey/muffiny than bready.
Personally, I always prefer a yeasted donut. I like the chewy, bready texture of a yeast-risen donut better than the cakey texture of a baking powder donut.
If I’m going to the trouble of making my own donuts, I will take a little extra time to make them with yeast. But don’t worry, I’ve developed this recipe so that it can be made overnight for maximum ease.
Also, if I’m gonna have a donut I’m going all the way and having a fried donut. Ya know, “in for a penny, in for a pound”. Well, maybe this isn’t the best time to talk about pounds…
I’ll tell you guys – this recipe almost kicked my butt. It took 5 tries to finally sort this one out.
How to get the most apple flavor in Apple Cider Donuts:
From the git-go I knew I wanted an apple cider donut that actually tastes like….wait for it….apple cider! I used a simple trick to maximize the flavor of the apple cider; reduction.
By boiling down the cider to 1/4 of it’s original volume we loose a lot of the water and none of the flavor. So we’re able to add a lot more cider flavor to the donut dough.
But that reduced cider is what caused me so much trouble.
How sugar can affect yeast activity in your bread dough:
The first batch of dough that I made was like a dead weight. I tried warming it up over a bowl of hot water, setting the bowl into a warmed oven and finally took the drastic measure of microwaving the dough for 20 seconds to see if there was any yeast activity at all.
Nothing. It was like a lump of play dough.
I thought my yeast was bad. I’d just taken some yeast out of the freezer to make the dough, but it had been in there for quite a while. So I bought brand new yeast and made the dough again.
Same lump of dead weight as the first time.
Time to do a little research. My first thought was that maybe the acidity of the reduced cider was too much for the yeast.
At this point I was using 1 1/2 cups of cider (reduced down from 6 cups) in the recipe. I added the yeast directly to the cider to start the recipe.
I found some great information on the Red Star Yeast website. It seems that excess sugar in the dough was halting the yeast activity. In short, yeast likes sugar, but (just like us) moderation is important.
A quick google search told me that 6 cups of cider has about 6 oz of sugar. That’s 3/4 cup of sugar, which made this a high-sugar dough.
Sugar is hygroscopic (absorbs water). Yeast needs water to activate. A high proportion of sugar in the dough will take up too much of the water, leaving the yeast too thirsty to do it’s job.
So I lowered the amount of reduced cider to 1 cup and added a 1/2 cup of warm water to the dough. I mixed the yeast with the water and some flour to create a sponge. The sponge gives the yeast and the gluten a head start before the other ingredients are added.
That did the trick! This recipe makes a dough is beautiful, light and elastic.
It took a couple more tries to perfect the rolling, cutting and frying steps before the recipe was blog worthy!
Scroll through the step by step photos to see how to make the best Yeasted Apple Cider Donuts:
Now that you know about the flavoring power of reduced apple cider, you should try these amazing Apple Cider Caramels!
If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.
- 4 cups (32 oz, 1 liter) apple cider
- 4 tablespoons (2 oz, 56g) unsalted butter, cold
- 1/2 cup (4 oz, 120ml) warm water
- 1 packet instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp, 7g)
- 3 3/4 cups (18.75 oz, 525g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg (room temp)
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 cup granulated sugar mixed with 2 tablespoons cinnamon plus 1/2 teaspoon cardamom for coating
Make the dough (day 1)
- In a large saucepan, bring the apple cider to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the 4 cups of cider are reduced to 1 cup. Transfer the reduced cider to a bowl and add the butter to the cider so that it melts. Set the bowl aside until the reduced cider is cooled to about 110°F (a little warmer than body temp).
- In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl combine the warm water, yeast, and 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix until it forms a thick batter. Cover the bowl and set it aside for 30 minutes (while the cider is cooling).
- With the mixer running on low, add the egg, cardamom, cinnamon, salt and cider to the batter. Add another 2 cups of flour and mix until it forms a thick batter.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour. The dough will start out quite sticky. Knead on medium low speed for 5 minutes (speed 2 on my stand mixer) until the dough clings to the hook and clears the sides of the bowl. If working by hand mix in as much of the flour by hand as you can then turn the dough out onto a floured surface and continue kneading in the remaining flour. Knead for 5 minutes. If you have a hard time working with the sticky dough you can sprinkle a few more tablespoons of flour as you knead.
- Knead into a smooth ball. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover and set the dough aside at room temperature for 1-1.5 hours until it's doubled in volume.
- Without kneading the dough (kneading will cause it to spring back as you cut) roll to 1/4"-1/2" thick on a lightly floured surface.
- Use a 4" round cutter to cut donuts. Use a smaller cutter to cut a center hole in each donut. Line the donuts on a well-oiled baking sheet, leaving space between the donuts for the dough to rise (I used 2 baking sheets). Reroll the scraps of dough and continue cutting donuts until all the dough is used up.
- Brush the tops of the donuts lightly with oil. Cover the sheet pans with plastic wrap. If you'd like to make the donuts in the morning refrigerate the donuts overnight. If making the donuts the same day, continue with the next step now.
Make the Donuts (day 1 or 2)
- Allow the donuts to rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour. The time will vary based on the temperature of the room and the temperature of your dough (if you refrigerated the dough overnight they may take longer to rise).
- Meanwhile, heat 2 quarts of oil to 350F° in a large heavy pot. Fry the donuts a couple at a time, about 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown and puffy.
- As you take each donut out of the oil, immediately roll in the cinnamon/cardamom sugar to coat. Set on a cooling rack while you fry the rest of the donuts.
- Best eaten slightly warm or within a couple of hours of frying.
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