With an eye on apple picking in the near future (as soon as Red Delicious apples are available!), I decided to attempt apple cider doughnuts. They were one of Vince's favorite autumn treats. We used to have a tradition of going apple picking at Bowman Orchards every year, filling up two bags with Red Delicious, Macintosh, and Granny Smith apples for eating and cooking, and stopping by their bakery and store where we'd pick up gourds, caramel/candy apples, fudge, and of course a wide variety of apple cider doughnuts, apple turnovers, apple fritters, apple pie ice cream, etc. Yum!
Well, I still have my heart set on apple picking, but obviously the pastries were out this year. I found this apple cider doughnut recipe though, and it looked easy enough, so I decided to modify it and try it. The thing is, I don't own any doughnut cutters - I hadn't even heard of one before this recipe - so I decided that my first try would be a cross between doughnut holes/Munchkin lookalikes and a flat pancake-shaped disc. Hey, don't knock the way it looks if it tastes good, right???
First thing Sunday morning, I boiled down the apple cider, mixed together a combination of white rice and tapioca flours instead of the all-purpose flour the recipe calls for, and heated canola oil on my stove. When I started handling the dough, it didn't feel particularly solid and I was dismayed to see that it fell apart as soon as I put it in the oil! Aargh! What was missing?
Well, it's probably glaringly obvious, but the issue was that in my coffee-deprived state I forgot to add xanthan gum to my dough. I smacked myself on the forehead and added a Tablespoon of my now-favorite stabilizer, and immediately the dough felt better when I tried to shape it into a flattened disc, it didn't fall apart in the hot oil, and I mentally composed the Ode to Xanthan Gum.
Here's the (very slightly) modified recipe:
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup buttermilk (I didn't have buttermilk so I tried the good ol' milk-and-lemon-juice trick)
- 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
- 2 cups white rice flour
- 1 Tbsp xanthan gum
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- Canola oil for frying
- Cinnamon sugar for coating
- Boil the apple cider for about 8-10 minutes until there is only 1/4 of a cup.
- Beat the sugar with the shortening until smooth.
- Add the egg, beat, then add buttermilk and mix well.
- Sift together flours, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Add to wet mixture. Mix just enough to combine.
- Transfer dough to lightly floured board and pat to about 1/2 inch thickness. (I used rice flour and sugar on the board).
- While cutting with a 3 inch doughnut cutter per the instructions in the original recipe is probably ideal, I shaped them by hand into small, flattened round discs.
- Add enough oil to fill a deep pan 3 inches. Heat to 375 F.
- Fry several doughnuts at a time, turning once or twice, until brown and cooked through. The recipe says that this takes about 4 minutes, but mine (probably due to the shape) was more like 2-3 minutes or else they'd burn.
- Remove to paper towels with a slotted spoon.
- Toss doughnuts in plastic bag with cinnamon sugar; serve warm.