These doughnuts are baked instead of fried. Some purists may argue that these aren't "donuts" at all, merely cupcakes dressed in a ring–shaped form and I wouldn't entirely disagree. However, they are so much fun to eat and very reminiscent of a traditional, fried apple cider donut, that I say bake on! When considering the preparation of a big batch of fried foods at home, the task just seems too messy and inconvenient for an impromptu morning project. By layering the apple cider flavors into a quick bread and baking them in donut form, you really get a similar effect without the fuss of large quantities of oil. These donuts are also much lighter, yet still packed with spice and apple flavor. After eating them I don't feel heavy and stomach achey as I do after the real thing.
Have you ever worked with a donut pan? Usually found in non-stick, they come in two sizes - mini and regular, they are handy to have on hand for occasions such as this. I used the regular size this time, but I find the mini donut pan to be pretty darn cute. You can pour any type of cake or quick bread batter into one of these and bake according to your original instructions and voila, a round of donuts is born! Whether you are tired of cupcakes or just want to add some humor and fun to your baking repertoire, I highly recommend experimenting with a donut pan. A tray of these apple cider donuts make for great conversation and delight!
Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts makes about 8 donuts, depending on size of your donut pan 2 cups flour 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons cinnamon 1 egg 2/3 cup brown sugar 1/2 cup apple butter 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/3 cup honey 1/3 cup apple cider 1/3 cup plain yogurt 2 tablespoons canola oil (plus a little extra for greasing your donut pan) powdered sugar for garnish Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a donut pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. In another large bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (these are all your wet ingredients). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Don't over-mix! A few lumps are okay; they won't show in the final product. Spoon the batter into each donut mold until about 3/4 full. Bake for approximately 12 minutes and cool on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with tea, cider or black coffee.
• Related: Why Not? Let's Make Homemade Donuts! (Images: Leela Cyd Ross)