As you have learned from the past few weeks of blog posts, I love fall. From the changing leaves to the pumpkins everywhere to the seasonal foods, fall is definitely my favorite season.
One of my favorite fall traditions is going with my family to a local farm to buy apples, look at all the different pumpkins and gourds, and dig into fresh apple cider donuts. A relaxing day spent with the people I love… and cider donuts.
Apple cider donuts are an interesting food. They are soft, cake-like, and spiced on the inside with a firm outer crust that is covered in sweet sanding sugar… basically the perfect balance of textures and flavors. I love apple cider donuts so much that I actually had them instead of cake for my 6th birthday!
The apple farm is usually swamped on weekends, so apple cider donuts have been hard to come by this season. But when my mom showed me a recipe that she saw on Facebook for APPLE CIDER DONUT CAKE, I was sold. We had to make it and we had to make it now.
With a few tweaks, I think we made a pretty delicious cake. There are a couple stages of ingredients and steps, but the results are definitely worth it.
It starts with the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, I combined flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Then set the bowl aside as I got the wet ingredients together.
The first component of the wet ingredients is an apple puree that is made from boiling cubes of apple in apple cider until they are soft and tender.
Any firm apple works here – I personally like granny smith or gala apples the best!
When the apples are tender, let the mixture cool slightly before transferring it to a blender or food processor. NOTE: when blending a hot liquid, only fill the blender up halfway and crack the top open and cover with a tea towel. This will prevent the top from flying off and hot apples going everywhere.
Puree until completely smooth. Pour out one cup of the apple puree mixture – if there is not enough apple puree, add in some more apple cider to make up the difference. Then add in a ¼ cup skim milk – stir to combine and then set aside.
Now it’s time to bring out the big guns… your stand mixer!
In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine some butter (okay, one stick), some granulated sugar, and some brown sugar. Beat until fluffy.
Then slowly add in three eggs, some vegetable oil, and some vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract and stir until combine. Then, with the mixer on low, add in the dry ingredients alternatively with the apple puree – starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. I recommend using a spatula to do one last mix to combine anything that is stuck on the bottom of the bowl.
Pour the batter into a bundt pan, preferably one without a fancy pattern – this is a donut, after all! Bake the cake for 35-40 minutes until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean.
While the cake is baking, you can whip up the two “toppings” for the cake – a glaze and a cinnamon sugar sprinkle.
For the glaze, heat butter, sugar, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, let it cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove the syrup from the heat and add in some…
… whiskey! Apples and whiskey (just like bananas and whiskey) go together really well. If you don’t like whiskey, you can substitute some apple cider instead. Then set the glaze aside until the cake is done.
Now, all that’s left is to make the cinnamon sugar.
In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously until combined.
Now we assemble!
When the cake is done, cool it for a few minutes in the bundt pan then turn it out onto a cooling rack set over a wax paper-lined baking sheet. Let the cake cool slightly.
When the cake has cooled, start to brush the cake with the whiskey syrup. I do this in several stages to allow for maximum syrup soakage.
When all the syrup has been brushed on the cake, sprinkle on half the cinnamon sugar mixture onto the cake, making sure to cover the top and the sides. Wait 10 minutes and repeat with the other half of the cinnamon sugar.
Now it’s time to dig in!
Not quite the same thing as a cider donut, but delicious nonetheless… A perfect homage to a childhood favorite!
So, kiddos, do you like cider donuts? What’s your favorite fall food? Let me know!
Your cider donut obsessed friend,
- For the cake:
- 1 firm apple (I like granny smith), peeled and chopped
- ¾ cup apple cider
- ¼ cup skim milk
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
- For the glaze:
- ½ stick unsalted butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ⅛ cup water
- ¼ cup whiskey
- For the cinnamon sugar:
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease your bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a small sauce pan, combine the chopped apple and cider. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes until the apples are tender. Remove from heat and let cool slightly before blending. If you are using a conventional blender, fill only halfway, slightly crack the lid (to prevent the top from blowing off), and then cover the lid with a towel before blending. If you are using a food processor, only fill to the max liquid line. Blend until completely smooth.
- Measure out one cup of the apple puree – if you do not have enough liquid, add in additional apple cider to make the full amount. Add in the skim milk, stir to combine and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Stir to combine and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add in the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffly, about 2 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, followed by the vegetable oil and vanilla bean paste/extract. Stir to completely combine, stopping to scrap down the sides.
- With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mixture and the apple puree, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined.
- Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
- While the cake is baking, make the glaze. In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, and water and bring to a boil. Let the mixture boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add in the whiskey – be careful because the mixture will bubble up! Set aside.
- While the cake is baking, make the cinnamon sugar. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Screw on the lid and shake vigorously. Set aside.
- When the cake is finished, allow it to cool for about 5-10 minutes in the pan. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack set over a wax paper-lined baking rack. Let the cake cool completely.
- When the cake has cooled, brush the cake with the glaze – work in batches to cover the top and sides, allowing one coat to sink into the cake before adding in another. When all the glaze has been brushed onto the cake, sprinkle the cake with the cinnamon sugar – I recommend sprinkling half the cinnamon sugar onto the cake, waiting ten minutes for it to set, and then sprinkling on the second half.
- Serve alongside a cold glass of milk. Enjoy!