Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Apple cider doughnuts are one of my favorite autumn treats. A tasty baked version reduces the guilt- a little bit. 😉 This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Erin Jeanne McDowell.

I made mini-doughnuts and madeleines. I must say that we were surprised by how much we enjoyed the apple cider madeleines which were absolutely amazing with crispy edges. The batter could also be baked in a muffin pan.

Yield: 12 mini-doughnuts and 8 madeleines (or 12 muffins)

For the Batter:

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cup/225 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 10 T (140 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup/165 grams light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup/120 milliliters apple cider

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 6 T unsalted butter

To Make the Doughnuts & Madeleines: (or Muffins)

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Lightly grease 2 (6-cavity) doughnut pans and 8 wells of a madeleine pan (or a 12-cup muffin tin) with nonstick spray.
  3. In a medium bowl, add flour, baking powder, salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 10 tablespoons/140 grams butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup/50 grams granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.
  5. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated after each addition, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  6. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  7. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated.
  8. With the mixer running, add the apple cider in a slow, steady stream and mix to combine.
  9. Scrape the bowl well to make sure the batter is homogeneous.
  10. Spoon the batter into prepared doughnut pans, filling them about 2/3 of the way. (I use a small cookie scoop and fill each well with 3 scoops. You can also do this using a disposable piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with a 1/2-inch opening cut from one corner.) Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  11. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the thickest portion comes out clean, about 7 to 9 minutes on convection. Rotate the pans halfway through baking. (If you are making muffins, divide batter evenly between the prepared cups and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating halfway through.)
  12. Reduce the temperature to 325 degrees, preferably on convection, if making madeleines. (I reduced the oven temperature because my pan has a dark finish.)
  13. Using a small cookie scoop, fill each well with 3 scoops, or until 2/3 full. Spread evenly with an offset spatula.
  14. Bake until evenly golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 9 minutes on convection.

To Make the Topping:

  1. While the doughnuts bake, whisk 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon together in a small bowl to combine.
  2. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in the microwave.
  3. Let the doughnuts cool for 5 minutes after baking, then unmold them from the pans.
  4. Brush with the melted butter and dredge them in the cinnamon sugar while they are still warm.
  5. Serve immediately, or let cool to room temperature.

Apple Cider Margarita

I have seen several versions of this seasonal cocktail but I’m not sure if I need to try another one. This one is festive and fabulous. I first tried it on Halloween and now plan to incorporate it into my Thanksgiving weekend menu. Perfect! 🙂

The recipe was adapted from thehealthfulideas.com, contributed by Veronika. I used gold tequila and added maple syrup.

For the Cinnamon-Sugar Rim:

  • 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • A lime wedge

For the Margarita:

  • 1.5 oz tequila
  • 0.5 oz Cointreau 
  • 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice, or more, to taste
  • 2 oz apple cider
  • 0.5 oz (1 T) pure maple syrup
  • small dash cinnamon, optional
  • 1-2 dashes orange bitters
  • ice cubes
  • apple and/or lime slices, for garnish, optional

To Make the Rim:

  1. Combine the turbinado sugar and cinnamon on a small plate.
  2. Run a lime wedge around the rim of your glass and dip it in the sugar. Set aside.

To Make the Margarita:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add a handful of ice, and shake for 10-15 seconds until it’s very cold to touch. 
  2. Pour into a margarita glass (or another glass of choice) over ice.
  3. Garnish with an apple and/or lime slice, if desired, and enjoy!

Salted Caramel Apple Cookies

Wow. These cookies may be my new favorite autumn dessert. I knew that we would love them when they were described as if “a caramel apple and a snickerdoodle got together and created some seriously delicious magic.” 🙂

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kelly Janke. I used Kanzi apples. Apparently, any type of apple will work in these cookies.

The original recipe stresses the importance of cooking the apple caramel to the proper consistency. It was a little tricky, but the instructions were very helpful. All of the liquid from the apples is cooked down until it has evaporated, leaving behind a “tacky and pliable” caramel. This wonderful caramel is folded into the cookie dough to create swirls in the finished cookies- fabulous.

Yield: Makes 25 cookies

For the Apple Caramel:

  • 3 medium apples (about 1 1/2 lbs total), peeled, cored (I used 3 (1 lb 6 oz total) Kanzi apples)
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I used freshly ground cardamom, sifted)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the Dough & Assembly:

  • 3 1/2 cups (438 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup, packed (100 g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)

To Make the Apple Caramel:

  1. In a food processor with the grater attachment, coarsely grate apples (or use large holes of a box grater).
  2. Transfer grated apples to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze over a medium bowl to extract all the juice possible. (I just squeezed the grated apples with my clean hands!)
  3. Measure out 1/4 cup (4 T) apple juice and set aside (save any leftover apple juice for another use).
  4. Set grated apples aside (you should have about 2 1/2 cups).
  5. Bring sugar, cream of tartar, and reserved 1/4 cup (4 T) apple juice to a rapid boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring just to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring but swirling pan often, until bubbles slow and caramel turns a deep amber color, 5–7 minutes.
  6. Remove caramel from heat and stir in butter, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
  7. Set pan over medium-low heat and add reserved grated apples, stirring quickly to combine (don’t worry if the caramel mixture looks like it’s seizing at first). Cook apple caramel, stirring constantly, until it’s noticeably stickier, the liquid has evaporated, and it almost forms a ball as you stir, 10–14 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to continue cooking- if the caramel becomes too dry it will be more of a fruit leather when it cools.)
  8. Scrape apple caramel onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Let cool, at least 30 minutes.
  9. Set 1/4 cup apple caramel aside for topping cookies.

To Make the Dough, Assemble, & Bake:

  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°. (I used the true convection setting.)
  2. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a medium bowl to combine.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, starting on low speed, then increasing speed to medium, until combined, about 2 minutes total.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating thoroughly before adding the next, then add vanilla.
  5. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  6. Add apple caramel and pulse mixer two or three times to swirl caramel throughout dough or fold in caramel using a sturdy rubber spatula (take care not to overmix or else you’ll lose the swirled caramel effect as the cookies bake).
  7. Using a 3 T (#20) cookie scoop portion out 16 balls and divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing at least 2″ apart (you will have dough left over for a 2nd batch).
  8. Top each cookie with a few small pieces of reserved apple caramel and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  9. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until golden brown at the edges, 12 to 16 minutes.
  10. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheets then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  11. On cool cookie sheets, repeat process with remaining dough to make 8 (or 9) more cookies.

Do ahead: Cookies can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. (True! Still delicious the next day.)

Oatmeal Snickerdoodles

I made this twist on a classic snickerdoodle to share with friends at the beach while enjoying one of our last summer sunsets. Perfect. 🙂 The original recipe describes this version as being Early American, from Connecticut. They were thin with crisp edges and a more tender center.

The recipe was adapted from Cookies are Magic by Maida Heather. I had never baked cookies on foil which was recommended in the recipe to slow the browning process. Interesting! I modified the recipe to reduce the amount of cinnamon-sugar topping.

Yield: 50 cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large or XL eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:

  • 1 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Adjust 2 racks evenly spaced in the oven. Preheat to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut aluminum foil to fit 4 rimmed cookie sheets. (I used 4 half sheet pans and 1 quarter sheet pan.)
  3. Sift the flour, then measure.
  4. Sift the baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into the measured, sifted flour. Set aside.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vanilla and both sugars and beat well, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well.
  8. On low speed, gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating until just combined.
  9. Stir in the oats.
  10. Using a cookie scoop (I used a 1 T cookie scoop), place by rounded scoops onto the prepared baking sheets, about 2-inches apart. (I placed 12 cookies per sheet on the 4 prepared sheets, and the leftovers on the quarter sheet pan.)
  11. Make the Cinnamon Sugar Topping by whisking the cinnamon and sugar together.
  12. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar generously over the scoops of cookie batter.
  13. Bake the cookies for 9 to 12 minutes, reversing the sheets from top to bottom and back to front as necessary to ensure even browning.
  14. After removing from the oven, let cookies rest on the sheets for a few seconds until they are firm enough to transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Pan-Banging Giant Crinkled Snickerdoodles

I first read about Sarah Kieffer’s famous pan-banging baking method when her Giant Crinkled Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe was published in The New York Times, adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book. During the baking process, the sheet pan is intermittently tapped on the oven rack. The resulting cookies have a “crinkled,” rippled, crisp outer edge and soft center. I love how they look. The added bonus is that they have to be large- giant– in order for the method to be successful.

In Kieffer’s second cookbook, 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More, she has an entire chapter devoted to pan-banging cookies. I can’t believe that it has taken me this long to bake them! The original chocolate chip cookie recipe has been modified in the new book. I will have to try the chocolate chip cookie version, of course, but I loved the idea of making giant crinkled snickerdoodles.

I did find that the method was only successful with three cookies per sheet pan. It may be be because the dough is closer to the center of the pan but I’m not exactly sure. The pans with four cookies cracked on the edges and spread more than the pans with three cookies. I reduced the amount of cinnamon sugar topping in the recipe below because there was excess.

The original recipe states that it yields twelve cookies, but, after weighing the rationed dough, each batch (sadly) only yielded ten cookies. I immediately made a second batch to share after baking the first ten cookies! We loved them.

Yield: 10 giant cookies

For the Cookie Dough:

  • 284g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt (I used fine sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 227g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Topping:

  • 25g (2 T) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 T ground cinnamon
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. (The remaining oven racks should be below this middle rack to not interfere with the pan-banging.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). (I did not use the convection setting.)
  3. Line 3 rimmed sheet pans with aluminum foil, dull-side up.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar, and nutmeg.
  5. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the 300g (1 1/2 cups) sugar and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
  7. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on low speed to combine.
  8. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined.
  9. In a small bowl, combine the 25g (2 T) and ground cinnamon for the topping.
  10. Form the dough in to 85 to 86g (3 oz or 1/4 cup) balls. (I initially used the combination of a large and medium cookie scoop, but found it was easier to just weigh chunks of dough.) Place all of the dough balls on a plate until all of it has been rationed.
  11. Roll each ball in the cinnamon-sugar topping.
  12. Place 3 cookies an equal distance apart on the sheet pans. (One will be leftover to bake after a sheet pan has cooled.)
  13. Bake the cookies one pan at a time.
  14. Bake until the dough balls have flattened but are puffed slightly in the center, 8 minutes.
  15. Lift one side of the sheet pan up about 4 inches (10 cm) and gently let it drop down against the oven rack, so the edges of the cookies set and the center falls back down. (I repeated this lifting the other side of the pan as well.)
  16. After the cookies puff up again in 2 minutes, repeat lifting and dropping the pan. Repeat a few more times, every 2 minutes, to created ridges around the edge of the cookie. Bake for 14 to 15 minutes total, until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden brown but the centers are much lighter and not fully cooked. (To keep track, I actually kept a paper to keep track of the timing: 8*2*2*2*1.)
  17. Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes, then move them to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Note: Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days (or refrigerate for up to 3 days).

Cinnamon Roll Blondies

One of the most dangerous things I’ve ever done is to “join” baking groups on Facebook. The beautiful baked goods that are shared make me feel compelled to bake and to try cookbooks that are raved about.

This recipe is from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More by Sarah Kieffer. This book has a major fan base online. I’m only one recipe in and am already a huge fan. 🙂

Baked goods that involve cinnamon-sugar are a crowd-pleaser in my house so selecting cinnamon roll blondies out of this book was an obvious choice. These blondies had the added bonus of incorporating nutty brown butter too. I weighed the ingredients when possible. Fabulous!

Yield: One 9×13-inch pan, about 24 small blondies

For the Brown Butter Blondie Base:

  • 2 cups (284g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 227g) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (200g) brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar)
  • 1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt (I used coarse salt)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature

For the Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 oz (113g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch salt (I used coarse salt)

For the Cinnamon Sugar Swirl:

  • 1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)
  • 2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt (I used coarse salt)
  • 1 T ground cinnamon

To Make the Brown Butter Blondie Base:

  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C).
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch (23×33-cm) baking pan and line with a parchment sling. (I used a metal baking pan.)
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 12 tablespoons (170g) of the butter. Brown the butter until it is dark golden brown and smells nutty, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and add the remaining 4 tablespoons (57g) butter to the pot, swirling the pot until the butter stops foaming.
  6. Add the granulated and brown sugars, vanilla, and salt, and stir to combine. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  7. Add the eggs and egg yolks and whisk until combined.
  8. Transfer the butter-egg mixture to the bowl with the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, and smooth into an even layer. Set aside while you make the toppings.

To Make the Cream Cheese Filling:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt, and mix on medium speed until well combined.

To Make the Cinnamon Sugar Swirl:

  1. In a small saucepan or skillet, melt the brown sugar, butter, and salt together over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon until combined.

To Assemble:

  1. Dollop the cream cheese and cinnamon sugar over the top of the brown butter blondie batter base in the prepared pan, alternating between the two.
  2. Drag the tip of a butter knife through the batter, creating swirls. (I created swirls parallel to the length and the width of the pan.)
  3. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes, or until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into the blondies comes out with only a couple of crumbs. (The testing spot should be in a central location that does not have the toppings because they will appear wet when the base is fully baked.)
  4. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  5. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut into bars.

Note: Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days. (We placed a few in the refrigerator and they were also absolutely fabulous chilled.)

Cinnamon Star Bread

I kept seeing various versions of this pretty pull-apart star bread and had to make one for myself. 😉 It’s so pretty and deceptively simple.

There are savory versions out there, but this variation of a classic cinnamon bun was the first choice for my crowd. The recipe is from King Arthur Flour. I weighed the dry ingredients and used fine sea salt. I made the loaf a day in advance and it was still tender, moist, and delicious.

Yield: One Star Loaf, about 8 servings

For the Dough:

  • 2 cups (241g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (46g) potato flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill) or 1/2 cup (46g) dried potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup (28g) nonfat dry milk
  • 3/4 cup + 2 to 4 tablespoons (198g to 227g) lukewarm water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (6g) fine sea salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

To Make the Dough:

  1. Sift the flour, potato flour, and dry milk through a strainer; this is an important step to prevent lumps in the dough. (If you’re using instant mashed potatoes rather than potato flour you can skip this sifting step.)
  2. Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 60 minutes, until it’s nearly doubled in bulk. (I used a proofing oven.)

To Shape and Bake the Loaf: 

  1. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. (I used a scale.) Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
  2. On a lightly greased or floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10″ circle.
  3. Place the circle on a piece of parchment, brush a thin coat of beaten egg on the surface, then evenly sprinkle with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar, leaving 1/4″ of bare dough around the perimeter.
  4. Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. Repeat the layering process — egg, cinnamon sugar, dough circle — leaving the top circle bare.
  5. Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.
  6. Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.
  7. Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Remove the cutter. ( Removed the cutter before joining the strips, which may have given the star an uneven appearance.)
  8. Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet.
  9. Cover the star and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes. (I used a proofing oven.)
  10. While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  11. Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg.
  12. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer.
  13. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
  14. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and serve warm or at room temperature. (It could also be served drizzled with a confectioners’ sugar glaze, if desired.)
  15. Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
Note: To reheat bread for serving, place it on a baking sheet and tent it loosely with aluminum foil. Place in a preheated 350°F oven, and warm for about 15 minutes, or until it’s as hot as you like.

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