Can we say finally!! I’ve been teasing my Instagram peeps with donuts for a long time and yes Lord I have made a recipe that I love! My standards for doughnuts are pretty high so developing a recipe that I can proudly stand by is important to me. I call these the best baked apple cider donuts because the texture and flavor brings back so many memories of the best doughnut I had growing up. My first memory of a good doughnut was Saturday morning grocery shopping with my mom at Wegmans. Their glazed doughnuts back in the 90s were BOMB; fluffy, buttery, and glazed to perfection. My favorites were glazed (of course), sour cream, old fashioned, and the apple fritters…so good!
These baked apple cider donuts were inspired by another hometown favorite and our Saturday morning produce run to the public market. A trip to the public market wasn’t complete if I didn’t stop by Duke’s Donuts on the way out. They’re so good that I had to try to make my own version. I’m proud of this recipe because it’s easy enough to whip up in less than an hour and once sprinkled in cinnamon sugar they’re impressively stunning. And they taste good too!!
After 3 batches of doughnut fails, I stepped away and searched the internet for tips on how to achieve a true apple cider flavor using real cider. Finally the stars aligned and the baking “OG” Sally, from Sally’s Baking Addiction blessed us home bakers with the secret to true apple cider flavor and of course, the secret is in the cider. Instead of using your cider straight from the carton, you have to make an apple cider reduction and it’s really easy to do. Doing this creates a concentrated and more potent flavor which allows the apple cider flavor to really come through in the donuts, I’ll get to that a moment.
And just so we’re clear, these doughnuts are baked not fried, so they won’t have that typical crunchy bite. It’s important that I emphasis the difference in texture because if you’re looking for something different, this isn’t it. They are fluffy and cakey, but the are the best baked apple cider doughnuts you will have this fall!
Making the Apple Cider Reduction
For this recipe we are going to use 1 and 1/2 cups of apple cider and reduce it down to 1/2 cup. All you do is pour 1 and 1/2 cups of cider into a small sauce pan and allow it to simmer on low heat. It took me about 25-30 minutes to get to 1/2 cup. The cider should a little darker and be slightly thicker. I suggest doing this first because it will need to cool before using it.
Coating the donuts
This might be the best part! So when the doughnuts come out of the oven they will be a pretty brown/golden color and you will be so happy but the excitement is just starting. In order to get a good coating on the doughnuts, you will need some butter and a generous amount of cinnamon & sugars. Don’t be shy on this step, DUNK the doughnuts in the butter and give them a good SWIM in the sugar mixture.
If I can be honest, in my opinion, the doughnuts taste best once they have cooled down completely. I feel like you can taste all of the flavors all at one time, so amazing! However, if you want to enjoy them warm, go for it!!