Thirty-five miles northwest of Chicago is Long Grove, a town that’s earned considerable renown for its apple cider doughnuts. Of all the things your town can become synonymous with, apple cider doughnuts is pretty neat. These doughnuts were sold fresh at a shop called the Long Grove Apple Haus, and they were a revelation. Until I tasted it, I didn’t know adding apple cider to doughnut batter was possible. They were warm, fluffy, light as cotton, with autumnal flavors of apples and cinnamon.
Sadly, the Long Grove Apple Haus closed in 2012, but that’s only motivated me to attempt to replicate the recipe for cider doughnuts at home.
I was particularly inspired by a new cookbook from Federal Donuts, a line of stores out of Philadelphia that serves both doughnuts and fried chicken (its chef is James Beard Award winner Michael Solomonov). In the cookbook, Solomonov reveals the master recipe for the shop’s doughnuts. When I asked if that recipe could be tweaked to include apple cider, Solomonov’s team was happy to oblige.
Here’s the resulting recipe—mostly theirs, but with a few modifications on my end. My main contribution is that, because the batter is fairly wet, I poured it into a ziplock bag, cut out a corner, and extruded the batter directly into the frying oil, churros style. The benefit of this is that the doughnuts come out super moist and can be consumed in two-bite portions. What’s better: Dipping these in a mug of hot apple cider.
Apple cider doughnuts à la Federal Donuts
6 large egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp. melted butter (not hot)
3/4 cup apple cider
2 cups all-purpose flour
5/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baharat (or pumpkin spice)
1. In a kitchen mixer with a paddle attachment, combine egg yolks and sugar on low speed for three minutes, or until ribbons begin to form. Slowly stream in melted butter until incorporated, then add the cider and mix for an additional 10 seconds.
2. In a separate bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Add this into the mixer and mix on low speed for 30 seconds, or until incorporated. Scrape down the sides and the bottom of the bowl and mix on medium speed for another 30 seconds, until the batter is smooth but not too wet (if it is, incorporate a tablespoon or two more flour). Meanwhile, preheat a pot of vegetable oil to 350 degrees on a candy thermometer.
3. Pour the batter into a ziplock bag and cut off one corner. When the oil is to temperature, squeeze out a two-inch length of batter directly into the pot for each doughnut, snipping off the batter with kitchen scissors. Do this quickly, and with no more than 10 doughnuts at a time. The doughnut will take about 90 seconds to two minutes to achieve a golden-verging-on-brown exterior. Remove the doughnuts with a stainless steel spider or slotted spoon and let them cool on a rack.
4. Sprinkle the doughnuts with powdered sugar and consume immediately with a mug of apple cider.