My way: NYT Apple Cider Donuts

First, I turned them into muffins. And then did some other stuff to them.

The upcoming election in the United States is critical beyond measure. We all (as in, everyone) have to do our part.

A few ways to get involved: check your registration status at Vote.gov and tell your friends and family to do the same. Volunteer your time with Rock the Vote or When We All Vote or Protect the Vote to make sure as many registered voters have their voices heard as possible.

I was not thrilled to find autumn already knocking on our doors until I made this recipe. The scents of apple cider and cardamom and cinnamon, the stolen bites of crunchy apples meant for the batter; they all joined forces and autumnally seduced me. The recipe? Baked apple cider donuts by my baker-crush Erin McDowell (of ombre berry pie and giant chocolate peanut butter cookie fame). My version? Whole wheat apple cider muffins.

NYT Cooking floated the recipe. I opened it, skimmed it, drooled a little, went to the comments. The comments on this and a great many recipes are an integral and productive part of home cooking. In the first handful, I found ideas like reducing the apple cider, adding cardamom to the sugar topping. And I quickly found myself preaching to no one that this is why To Taste exists, this is the message we’re sending, this is what makes cooking empowering and fun and interactive and communal!

By all means, play with your food!

Where was I? Erin McDowell, genius baker woman, wrote a recipe for baked apple cider donuts. She suggests making muffins if you are lacking in the donut pan department (as I am). The recipe below features the changes I made so that you can either follow my lead or be inspired by it. Whatever you make, put your own spin on it.

I’m not a very good photographer…

Ingredients
(* indicates a change from the original recipe)

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided

3/4 cup whole wheat flour*

1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder

¾ teaspoon fine sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom*

13 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided

1/2 cup light brown sugar*

1/2 cup granulated sugar*

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cup/120 milliliters apple cider (reduced to 1/2 cup)

1 apple, diced

Steps

  1. Pour 1 1/2 cups apple cider into a small saucepan and set over medium-low heat. Let it reduce, slowly, until about 1/2 cup liquid remains. About 15-20 minutes.

  2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray. In a medium bowl, add the flours (save the extra 1 tablespoon AP flour for later), baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

  3. In a small bowl, mix the diced apples with saved 1 tbsp flour. Set aside.

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 10 tablespoons of butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated after each addition, scraping the bowl as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract.

  5. Add in the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. With the mixer running, add the reduced apple cider in a slow, steady stream and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl well to make sure the batter is homogeneous. Using a wooden spoon, mix the diced apples into the batter, making sure they’re incorporated throughout.

  6. Spoon the batter into prepared pan, filling them about 2/3 of the way full. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.

  7. While the doughnuts bake, whisk the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and cardamom together in a small bowl to combine. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in the microwave. Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes after baking, then unmold them from the pan. Brush with melted butter and dredge them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still warm. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature.

Use pears instead of apples, use almond flour in place of the whole wheat, make an apple cider loaf, use applesauce in the batter to up the apple-y factor. Turn them into cupcakes with some delicious creamy, cinnamon-y frosting. Recipes are inspiration, not scripture. Yes, I am available for speaking engagements, thanks for asking.

A couple other ways to use apples: in pie, compote, and butternut squash soup

What I’m buying: gonna upgrade my table with new placemats, study The New Way to Cake, and send myself this pasta-and-pancake filled “family care package

I’m dragging my feet into fall, for sure. But sugar-topped apple cider treats help. Maybe next time, I’ll add a bit of orange zest and nutmeg just for kicks.

xoxo

P.S. An Instagram account I love and thought you would, too: @authentish