A big black cast iron skillet nearly full of shimmering hot oil is not normally how I like to start my weekend mornings. In fact, it's not really how I like to start any day.
I can't deny the pleasure I got from these fresh home-made doughnuts and a hot cup of black coffee on a recent cold Saturday morning. I'd been itching to make these little cider doughnuts ever since I came across this recipe months and months (years?) ago. I finally took a deep breath and poured all that oil into the skillet, wincing with each glug of the bottle, and got to frying up these little treats. Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum. Yum.
(Pardon the bite missing...I just couldn't help myself...)
Cider and Spice Doughnut Holes
(adapted from 'Cider Doughnut Holes' in the September 2007 edition of Every Day with Rachel Ray )
Makes approximately 24 doughnut holes
1 1/2 Cups flour (plus more for rolling)
1/2 Cup sugar
2 Tb. buttermilk powder (found in the baking aisle of many grocery stores)
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Cup apple cider
1 large egg
2 Tb. butter, melted
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Vegetable oil or shortening for frying (enough to fill a deep skillet 1/2 to 3/4 full) - I used a mixture of vegetable shortening and canola oil
2 Tb. (more or less) powdered sugar for dusting
Heat oil (or shortening) in a deep skillet (cast iron is perfect) until hot, but not smoking. (The original recipe suggests 360 degrees on a deep-fat thermometer - I can't verify this as my thermometer slid right into the oil and had to be removed deftly and relocated to the kitchen sink...) You want the oil to be hot enough that when the batter goes in it begins to brown immediately, but not so hot that it starts to burn (it's doughnuts, not blackened catfish). Watch this closely as you fry - the temperature may need to be adjusted after adding the first batch.
While oil is heating, combine the flour, sugar, buttermilk powder, spices, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together to combine. Add the cider, egg (beaten), butter, and vanilla to the flour mixture and stir to combine. Put half of the batter in the refrigerator while you work with the other half.
With the remaining batter, form tablespoonfuls into small 1 1/2 to 2 - inch balls, by rolling the dough in floured hands. Place balls on a plate and when all the dough has been formed, begin to fry the doughnuts. Carefully transfer the balls, one at a time, into the hot oil. Fry gently for about 2-4 minutes or until doughnuts are golden brown on all over, turning when necessary with a slotted spoon. Do not crowd the pan. Remove the doughnuts with a slotted spoon and place them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb some of the oil. Repeat with the remaining refrigerated dough. Sift powdered sugar over the doughnut holes while they are still warm, and try to save some for sharing...