Fall is upon us. . .at least in the mornings.
It’s been super cold here in the morning, so it’s jackets and maybe even a scarf when we leave the house, and then the heat kicks in and by afternoon everyone who isn’t in shorts feels like an idiot. So Fall is whispering at us, maybe, and when the kids went gaga over the apple cider donuts at Stew Leonard’s, I decided it was time to for the first treat of the season.
I’ve made these before, as mini muffins, but now that I have a mini donut pan I thought that might be more fun. I messed it up, though. We ended up with a big pile of weird, misshapen donuts. Delicious misshapen donuts. Delectable misshapen donuts. How-can-these-be-so-good-without-butter misshapen donuts. Yes!
The day I made these, I was still in the throes of reading Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. Somehow it made me feel both less crazy and more crazy at the same time, and it certainly fueled my culinary fire as I rode the train home from work thinking of nothing but the apple butter I fervently hoped would be available at our local grocery store. I walked over there right after getting home and to my delight found no fewer than five different kinds to choose from. Score!
(It was a high shelf and that was the best I could do with my iPhone.)
With that in hand, I waited patiently through dinner, cleaned up the dishes, rolled up my sleeves, donned my apron, and dug in. Flour, wheat germ, baking powder, and baking soda.
Salt. Cinnamon. Nutmeg. Apple pie spice, on a spicewhim.
Then it was time for the slimy apple butter. This is the true magic of baking: you can take all kinds of ingredients you find unpleasant and transform them into something wonderful. I mixed the apple slime together with an egg, brown sugar, vanilla, honey, and apple cider.
Then I added the yogurt and the honey. One thing I’ve learned is to do your honey or your molasses last in the hopes that whatever measuring item you’re going to use (a cup, a spoon) already has some other substance on it from your recipe. A little yogurt on the sides of a measuring cup does wonders for keeping the honey from sticking to the sides. Oil is ideal.
The yogurt combined with who-knows-what to create all these unsavory floaty bits.
Whisking got rid of most of them, and was therefore very reassuring.
I poured it into the flour mixture, and mixed just enough to incorporate.
And that’s when things got dodgy.
I’m very good at baking things that taste good; my weakness is in making them look good. I do them a disservice, really, as my weird-looking creations don’t truly indicate the deliciousness that lies within.
My first batch of these? I put too much batter in the tin.
While they were baking (and puffing out to an overwhelming size for a MINI donut), I prepared the cinnamon sugar, for rolling. (I wanted to roll in it myself, to be honest.)
The first batch. Oversized with flat bottoms. But sweet-smelling.
I rolled them in cinnamon sugar.
The flaw in the next batch? I forgot to re-spray the pan, so they stuck and some of them fell apart.
I sort of got it right by the third one, but by then there wasn’t enough batter to fill half the pan, so there were only a handful of those.
It didn’t matter. They were delicious.
And Nathaniel built me a special platform for them out of Lego, so we could display them in all their misshapen glory. Sadly the light from the window wasn’t cooperating, so the results weren’t as beautiful as we hoped, but you get the idea, as well as the Lego love.
BAKED APPLE CIDER DONUT HOLES RECIPE (original)
My version of Baked Apple Cider Mini Donuts
1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup toasted wheat germ
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 large egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup low fat plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup cane sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Heat oven to 400 degrees and spray or grease a mini donut pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and apple pie spice.
In another bowl, combine the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, honey, apple cider, yogurt, canola oil, and vanilla. Whisk to combine (and to remove unsightly yogurt lumps).
Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry and stir, just enough to fully incorporate the ingredients.
To get the batter into donut holes, you can try using a spoon, or turn a zip-lock bag into a pastry bag by cutting one of the corners. You’ll need a wide hole; I tried using a real pastry bag but my tips were all too small for the thick batter and it wasn’t terribly efficient.
Bake for 8-10 minutes. If you’re making multiple batches and you only have one pan, re-spray or grease for each new batch. While they’re in the oven, mix the topping together and keep it handy.
Let cool on a rack just long enough to make them safe to touch, then roll/coat them in the cinnamon sugar.