There are a handful of recipe developers that reduce me to fangirling. Cooks whose cookbooks I will faithfully purchase sight unseen. Chefs who release such consistently delicious food, you think they might be made of magic.
One of those is Tieghan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest. Don’t let her humble, unassuming demeanor fool you; she is gifted in the kitchen and makes phenomenal food. I especially love that she prefers the nutrition of whole foods, and yet doesn’t compromise on taste. These incredible apple donuts are no different.
Tieghan adds concentrated apple cider, apple butter, and chopped apple into this dough, guaranteeing the prominence of the apple flavor. But that’s not the best part; it’s the glaze. She takes a basic glaze recipe and turns up the volume by browning the butter and adding cinnamon, maple syrup, and coffee – yes, coffee! – makes this stuff GOLD. The combination puts the donuts you can buy at fall festivals to shame. Plus, they’re baked, so they’re lower in fat.
This recipe was new to us this fall, and I was surprised how easily they came together. Based on how quickly they were inhaled – not to mention how much I wish I could eat one right now while I’m typing this – it has already been added to our list of our annual traditional bakes for the season. I might even make another batch next week.
They’re that good. So good. So so so so good.
Baked Apple Cider Donuts with Cinnamon Maple Glaze
(Original recipe: Half Baked Harvest)
1-1/2 C apple cider
2 TBSP salted butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 C apple butter
1/2 C dark brown sugar, packed
2 C all-purpose flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 honeycrisp apple, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 tsp cinnamon sugar (1/4 tsp ground cinnamon + 3/4 tsp sugar)
Brown Butter Cinnamon Maple Glaze
4 TBSP salted butter
1/3 C maple syrup
3/4-1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp instant coffee
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 6-cup donut pan with melted butter.
Bring the apple cider to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to about 1/2 cup (15-20 minutes). Remove from the heat. Let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together 1/2 cup boiled cider, melted butter, eggs, apple butter, vanilla, and brown sugar until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Mix together gently until just combined. Toss the apples with the cinnamon sugar mix, then fold them delicately into the batter.
Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pan, filling each donut round 1/2-2/3 the way full. Bake 12-13 minutes, until just set. Remove and let cool 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges to release and invert the pan.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Add the butter to a small pot set over medium heat. Allow the butter to brown slightly until it smells toasted, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the maple syrup, powdered sugar, instant coffee, and cinnamon.
Once the donuts have cooled, dip the tops into the glaze and set them out to cool. The glaze will harden as it cools.
Or better yet, eat a couple of them while they’re still a little warm.