Apples are “intrinsically connected to human history,” writes Amy Traverso in The Apple Lover’s Cookbook. A lifelong lover of apples and food editor of Yankee Magazine, Traverso’s apple cookbook offers a wide range of recipes from Pan-Seared Salmon with Cider-Glazed Onions to Baked Apple Oatmeal Pudding.
“I saw the lush beauty of an orchard at full fruit, and understood why so much early literature, from the Bible to Greek and Scandinavian mythology, equates the orchard with Paradise itself,” she writes. “To me, an apple farm in September or October represents everything that is inspiring in nature – its abundance and sweetness – and strikes me as a spiritual setting as much as any church or temple.”
She goes on: “Setting aside the centuries of decidedly human effort that gave rise to these highly selected fruits…walking among these trees gives the most pleasing vision of nature, in which sweet fruit is given in abundance as if by some universal benevolence.”
In celebration of Fall – the season of all things apples and pumpkins – enjoy the recipe for cider donuts below.
Vermont Apple Cider Donuts (taken from The Apple Lover’s Cookbook)
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp.
2 large eggs, room temp.
3 &1/2 cups flour
1 &1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 &1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup boiled apple cider (see notes)*
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Canola or safflower oil for frying
Cinnamon-sugar (1 & 1/2 cups sugar mixed with 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon for sprinkling)
*Simmer 1 & 1/2 cups of fresh apple cider down to 1/3 cup, takes about 20-25 minutes
In a large bowl using a mixer beat together sugar and butter until mixture is pale and fluffy, 4-6 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for a minute after each. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeat; set aside.
Pour the buttermilk, boiled cider, and vanilla into the sugar-butter-egg mixture. Mix well, and don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit curdled; it’ll smooth itself out. Add the flour mixture and gently mix just until fully moistened. The mixture may appear a bit lumpy, but the most important thing is not to over mix.
Line the baking sheets with wax paper or parchment paper and dust generously with flour. Turn the dough out onto a baking sheet and gently pat into a 3/4-inch-thickness. Sprinkle dough with additional flour, cover with plastic wrap and put in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm up. Remove the dough from the freezer and use a lightly floured 3-inch donut cutter (or biscuit cutters) to cut out about 18 donuts with holes. You can gather the scraps and re-roll as needed, but you may need to chill the dough more to firm it up. Put cut donuts on the other baking sheet as you go, then transfer to the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up again.
Preheat the oven to 200 degree F and set a rack in the middle position. Set a plate lined with a few layers of paper towels nearby. In a large pot, heat 3 inches of oil to 370 degrees F. Drop 3 or 4 donuts into the oil, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook until browned on one side, about 1 minute, then flip over and cook until browned on that die, about one minute more. Transfer the donuts to the paper-towel-lined plate and keep warm in the oven as you cook the rest. Repeat the process with the remaining dough. Sprinkle donuts with cinnamon-sugar mixture while still warm.