Showing posts with label Breakfast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Breakfast. Show all posts

Monday, January 2, 2017

Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake with Mascarpone Glaze


For those of you who may be thinking this first post of the new year is nothing more than a wicked attempt at tempting you to already break your new year's resolution of eating healthier foods, like adding more fruits and nuts to your diet, you would be wrong. Because this Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake with Mascarpone Glaze is made with bananas, pineapple, and pecans. In other words, it's a cake made with fruit and nuts. My definition of a win-win, glass half full recipe! Have I told you lately that seeing possibility where others see improbability (aka rationalizing) is one of my strengths? Or my belief that life shouldn't be about deprivation but rather moderation? As much as I can be a little redundant with my musings here on the blog, sometimes a little redundancy is a good thing. Really it is.


There were many reasons why I wanted to make this Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake with Mascarpone Glaze. Was it because I was in need of a great, new coffee cake recipe, because anything with the words hummingbird cake in the title immediately gets my attention, or because I needed a bribe to get the person who shall remain nameless to take up all of the cumbersome, heavy holiday boxes up to the attic? The answer? All of the above.


While one of my last year's intentions was to reduce the number of cookbooks and cooking magazines I buy, I couldn't resist buying the January/February 2017 issue of 'bake from Scratch'. Even the long checkout line at the bookstore couldn't deter me from buying it. Filled with a number of recipes just begging me to make them, the Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake seemed to tug a little harder at my heartstrings. Add the words browned butter to a recipe and well, suddenly I find myself on a nothing will get in my way mission.


As with most recipes I come across, I either leave them alone or feel compelled to tinker with them just a teeny tiny bit. Whenever I make any changes it sort of feels I have given myself permission to color outside of the lines, to break some rules, to take a leap of faith. In other words, it's what being a little radical looks like in my world. To be perfectly honest, the recipe for the Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake was just about perfect. Toasting the pecans before adding them to the streusel was a minor nuance. Changing out the sour cream based glaze for the mascarpone glaze would be one of those changes falling into the category of personal preferences. And making this coffee cake in a springform pan instead of cake pan (9 inch instead of 8 inch) was nothing more than a convenience.

What can be better than a coffee cake topped with a butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, sugar, pecan streusel? One having some of it inside of it! If you are looking to amplify the flavor of the streusel, toast the pecans in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven for 8 to 9 minutes. I promise, you won't be sorry for this tiny extra step.

The browned butter is the not-so secret transformational ingredient taking this Hummingbird Coffee Cake to a whole new level of nutty deliciousness and a deeper complexity. When butter has melted to the point where the water has been cooked out, the remaining milk solids begin to brown and take on a nutty flavor. Make sure to scrape out all of the little brown bits into your batter as they hold incredible flavor.


After spreading half of the coffee cake batter in the pan, top with both the cinnamon sugar mixture and one-third of the streusel mixture. Top with the rest of the batter, smooth out with an offset spatula and finish off with the remaining streusel before putting the coffee cake in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven.

Instead of using an 8 inch cake pan, this Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake was made in a 9 inch springform pan (lined with parchment paper). In spite of changing out the size of the cake pan, there was no significant change to the baking time (45-50 minutes).


Hummingbird Cakes are traditionally topped with a cream cheese frosting. This coffee cake version is topped with a mascarpone glaze.


Allow the coffee cake to rest at least 15 minutes before pouring on the glaze.


Imagine starting your day with a warm coffee cake. But whether you serve it warm or at room temperature, this may be the best coffee cake on the planet.


Full of intense flavor, this Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake is incredibly moist. The Mascarpone Glaze adds a hint of sweetness and is a perfect finishing touch. So if you are committed to adding more fruits and nuts to your diet in the weeks, month and year ahead, I would venture to say this cake would help you keep that promise, resolution, intention. And, if by chance you need to offer a small bribe, this coffee cake may get you more than you even hoped for. Happy New Year!

Recipe
Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake with Mascarpone Glaze (slight adaptation to the Browned Butter Hummingbird Coffee Cake recipe printed in the Jan/Feb 2017 Issue of Bake from Scratch)

Ingredients
Streusel
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped 

Cake
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup mashed banana (from 1 large ripe banana or 2 smaller ripe bananas)
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
Optional: Pecan halves for finishing the top of the coffee cake

Glaze
1/2 cup confectionary sugar, sifted
2 Tablespoons mascarpone cheese, softened
2-3 Tablespoons whole milk

Directions
Streusel 
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
2. Stir in butter, mixing until the mixture is crumbly. Note: Use fingertips until desired consistency is reached.
3. Stir in chopped, toasted pecans. Cover and set aside.

Glaze
1. In a small bowl, whisk together the sifted confectionary sugar, mascarpone cheese and 2 Tablespoons of the whole milk until creamy and pourable. If mixture to thick, add milk 1 teaspoon at a time.

Cake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a 9 inch springform or baking pan with parchment paper. Spray with baking spray and lightly flour. Set aside.
2. In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Cook until butter turns a medium-brown color and has a nutty aroma. Approximately 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Set aside.
4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat eggs, mashed banana, drained pineapple, and vanilla at medium speed until combined. Approximately 1-2 minutes. 
5. Stir in cooled browned butter. Scrape the browned bits into the batter.
6. Gradually add flour mixture to the batter, beating until just combined.
7. In a small bowl, mix tother the remaining 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Set aside.
8. Spread half of the batter into the prepared cake pan.
9. Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and 1/3 of the streusel mixture.
10. Top with remaining cake batter. Smoothing top with an offset spatula.
11. Evenly sprinkle the remaining streusel over the cake batter.
12. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake tested with a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cake rest for 15 minutes.
13. Run a sharp knife around the edges. Open latch on springform pan and/or invert cake onto a plate and invert again, placing cake on a wire rack.
14. Drizzle glaze over warm cake. Optional: Top with pecan halves.

Notes: (1) The inspiration recipe recommended a sour cream based glaze (one half cup confectionary sugar, two Tablespoons sour cream, 1 1/2 teaspoons whole milk). (2) If using an 8 inch cake pan, baking time may need to be adjusted slightly, but would recommend checking for doneness at 45 minutes. (3) Be sure to drain the crushed pineapple before adding to the batter.


Lower Dells falls at Matthiessen State Park, Ogelsby, Illinois (January 2017)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Corn Muffins


This past weekend was marked by the first roaring, crackling fire of the season. The temperature outside finally dipped down low enough where a fire was needed to take the chill out of the air in the house. The house I grew up had neither a wood burning nor gas fireplace. Although at Christmas we did have one of those large faux red brick corrugated cardboard fireplaces to hang our stockings from. Not quite the same experience as having a 'real' fireplace. The only time in my life I wished I had a gas instead of a wood burning fireplace was when the power went out during a three day east coast blizzard and I became a fireplace slave. At some point during the second day, of what felt like a return to the Little House on the Prairie life, I wondered if the early settlers and pioneers were sleep deprived or if they just adjusted to various states of frozenness. Because keeping a fire going morning, noon, and night was exhausting (and I didn't even have to cut the wood!). The kind of exhaustion you might temporarily feel after an hour of sculpt yoga, any long run over 13.1 miles, or a several hour high elevation hike. Fortunately I live in a house with one working wood burning fireplace (the repairs needed for the second one have yet to be done). Rather than generating warmth needed for physical survival, this fireplace now has the primary function of creating ambiance to warm and soothe the souls of everyone sitting near it.


Admit it. A corn muffin with golden brown, slightly domed tops is something we find incredibly appealing. They may, in fact, borderline on being lust worthy. Conversely, corn muffins pale in color with flat or caved in tops are ones we might wrinkle our noses at, or eat only if desperately hungry. And when we come across a domed top, golden brown muffin, rich with buttery corn flavor and perfectly moist, we know we have finally arrived in Corn Muffin heaven. After thanking the powers that be for creating such a gift, we pledge to never ever eat any other corn muffin not living up to this gold(en) standard. Even if we are starving. Thanks in large part to Cook's Illustrated, we no longer have to search far and wide for the seemingly illusive, most delectable corn muffin on the planet. We can now make them ourselves whenever we want. For breakfast, for lunch with a warm bowl of soup, for dinner with a hot bowl of chili, or just because you crave them.


In the past several weeks I made these Corn Muffins twice. The first time because I have long wanted to find a recipe for sweet, buttery, moist Corn Muffins. The second time was because I had a craving for sweet, buttery, moist Corn Muffins. These might fall into the category of rather addicting comfort food.

There ingredients in this recipe are pretty similar to those found in other corn muffin recipes. However, the technique for making them is decidedly different from most others out there.


To keep the cornmeal flavor at the forefront of these muffins while ensuring they had great texture and moistness, Cook's Illustrated discovered the secret was cooking some of the cornmeal with milk to a polenta like, porridge consistency. The result of using a combination of slightly cooked and dry cornmeal in the batter is a feast for the eyes, tender crumb, buttery rich flavor corn muffin.


The sugar, slightly cooled melted butter and sour cream help to bring down the temperature of the milk/cornmeal mixture to ensure the eggs aren't 'cooked' when added in to the batter. If your batter is a little too warm to the touch, allow it to sit for a couple of minutes before whisking in the eggs. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to stir in the dry ingredients as once everything comes together, the batter will become very thick.


When making cupcakes or some muffins, the recommendation is usually to fill the cups 2/3's full. However, the batter will be slightly mounded up over the top of the cupcake papers for these corn muffins.


They are baked for 14-17 minutes in a preheated 425 degree oven or until the tops are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed. Or alternately insert a toothpick in the center of the muffin. If it comes out clean, the muffin is done. Before removing the muffins from the tin, allow to cool for at five minutes.

Serve these muffins warm, at room temperature, or reheated with honey and/or butter.


These Corn Muffins are moist on the inside, yet have an almost slightly caramelized, crunchy exterior surface. They are pure perfection.


Some of you might be wondering if corn muffins and cornbread are interchangeable terms for the same thing. And actually they aren't. The most significant difference between the two is no sugar and sugar. Most traditional cornbreads do not use sugar as an ingredient, while sugar plays an important role in the corn muffin.

Speaking of sugar, I made two changes made to Cook's Illustrated recipe. The first was increasing the amount of sugar in the batter from 3 Tablespoons of 1/3 of a cup. The second was sprinkling the tops with sanding sugar. When making these corn muffins, increase the amount of sugar in the batter to at least 1/4 cup (equivalent of 4 Tablespoons) but no more than 1/3 cup. The sanding sugar on the top is optional and matter of personal preference. Kind of like preferring a wood burning fireplace to a gas fireplace. One isn't necessarily better than the other, it's all about what makes you the happiest.

Recipe
Corn Muffins (slight adaptation of the Savory Corn Muffin recipe in the new Cook's Illustrated cookbook, Cook's Science: How to Unlock Flavor in 50 of our Favorite Ingredients)
Makes one dozen muffins

Ingredients
2 cups yellow (fine, medium, or a combination of fine and medium grind) cornmeal, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt or fine sea salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 cup sour cream
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/4 - 1/3 cup granulated sugar (See Notes)
2 large eggs, room temperature
Optional: Sanding sugar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees (F). Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake papers or squares of parchment paper.
2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
3. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cornmeal with the milk. Over medium-high heat, cook mixture until it has a thick batter or polenta-like porridge consistency (approximately 4-6 minutes of cooking time). Note: Stir continuously. Transfer to a large bowl.
4. Add the butter and sugar into the milk/cornmeal mixture.  
5. Add the sour cream, stirring until no streaks appear.
6. If mixture is cooled enough, whisk in eggs until combined. Note: If mixture is too hot, wait 5 minutes before adding eggs.
7. Fold in flour mixture until the batter is smooth and thick.
8. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared muffin cups. 
9. Bake until tops are golden brown and the top of the muffin bounces back when lightly pressed. Approximately 14-18 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for at least 5 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to cool for an additional 5 minutes.
10. Serve warm with room temperature butter and/or honey.
11. Store muffins in a tightly sealed container or ziplock storage bag. 

Notes: (1) Cook's Illustrated recommended using 3 Tablespoons of sugar. I used 1/4 cup of sugar in the first batch of the corn muffins and 1/3 cup of sugar on the second batch. The 1/3 cup of sugar yielded the kind of sweetness I love in a corn muffin. (2) Do not use white cornmeal or coarse grain cornmeal. I used Bob's Red Mill Yellow medium-grind cornmeal. (3) My baking time was almost 16 minutes. (4) I sprinkled mine with sanding sugar for an added bit of crunch and sweetness, but if you are serving them with a savory dish (e.g., soup or chili) omit the sanding sugar.


Cows grazing on a misty morning along the Sakonnet River in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Cinnamon and Apple Crumble


Over the weekend I had the opportunity to be one of the ten thousand volunteers at the Chicago Marathon. A few months back several of  us decided to volunteer at one of the water stations to support the larger running community and, more importantly, to cheer on the runners from our half-marathon and marathon training group. Maybe it was having run two marathons in my first running life that made the day emotionally exhausting for me. For reasons a little hard to explain, tears welled up in my eyes several times as I watched the runners run by our water station. But I'll try. Until you actually run a marathon, it's hard to fully understand the emotional and physical toll the training as well as the marathon itself takes on your spirit and body. It should almost be considered a kind of extreme sport as your psyche runs the gamut from being exhilarated to being enervated. All sometimes within a five minute period of time. Watching from the ten and a half mile mark (they had 15.7 miles more to go), the determination on the faces of those who were running strong as well as those already starting to struggle (trust me, I know what struggle looks like) was clearly evident. Standing on the sidelines holding out cups of water, I could almost feel the collective joy, pain, and angst of every one of the first time and seasoned marathoners as they passed by. It was almost too much to take in. My weepiness reflected how simultaneously inspiring and depleting it felt being just there. By the time I eventually got back home, my body felt as if it had vicariously run that marathon with them.


Had this Cinnamon and Apple Crumble been in the house waiting for me when I got home, I may have allowed myself to eat more than a single piece. One with a generous side of cinnamon whipped cream of course. But I didn't discover the recipe for this crumble until I was scrolling through some of the recipes posted by a recently discovered fellow blogger, Meike Peters in the middle of the night (exhaustion sometimes leads to sleeplessness). As is often the case with recipes shared by food bloggers living in other countries (Meike currently lives in Berlin), the ingredient amounts are in metric form (not a problem when using a scale) and some ingredients (e.g., Boscoop apples) are indigenous to different parts of the world  and not yet available in the states. Minor obstacles, especially when one is motivated to make a recipe.


The Cinnamon and Apple Crumble is part cake, part crumble, and pure deliciousness. It is the best of both worlds combined into a single dessert. Once you too feel compelled to make this cake, the only decision left will be whether to serve it as a dessert, for breakfast, as a reward, or for some or all of the aforementioned reasons.

Years ago I bought an OXO food scale. Not only has it enabled me to measure ingredients in either ounces or grams, it has been invaluable in ensuring accuracy and consistency. With more and more cookbooks listing recipes in metric form and more recipes emanating from all over the world (where grams are the standard unit of measure), the scale has become an invaluable kitchen tool. If you have not yet invested in one of these scales, I have provided conversions for you in the recipe listed below. Meike's recipe called for the use of Boscoop apples which, I have to admit, were a variety of apple I had never heard of before. Quite possibly because these medium-sized, yellow with a red blush skinned, tart apples are primarily available in the Netherlands and France (two places I have not yet traveled to). The closest 'American' version of this apple would be a Granny Smith. 


Depending on the size of the Granny Smith apples picked at the apple orchard or bought from the market, you will need 4 to 5 of them. The apples are peeled, cored, halved, and cut into quarter inch slices.


There are essentially three layers to this Cinnamon and Apple Crumble: The base cake layer, the apple layer, and the crumble layer. It comes together easiest if you begin by first making the base cake layer. The cake batter can be made in a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer). Once all of the ingredients are blended, it has a beautiful consistency and spreads easily in a prepared 10 inch springform pan. 

To add a bit more cinnamon flavor to the crumble, I sprinkled the sliced apples with a cinnamon-sugar mixture (see recipe below). Note: Lightly press the sliced apples into the cake layer before sprinkling with the cinnamon sugar and/or topping with the crumble mixture.


The consistency of the crumble mixture was perfect. However, if for some reason yours turns out a bit dry, add a little more melted butter.  And if too wet, add a little more flour, one tablespoon at a time. It should be wet and crumbly, not sticky or dry.


The Cinnamon and Apple Crumble is baked in a preheated 355 degree (F) oven for 50-55 minutes. The crumble is done when the top is beautifully browned and a tester inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to rest in the pan 15-20 minutes before running a knife along the edge of the cake and transferring cake to a cake stand or platter. Note: Do not remove the cake from the springform bottom while hot and/or warm. I served my crumble with the bottom still under it.

Freshly whipped Cinnamon Whip Cream or vanilla ice cream are the proverbial icing on the cake, or in this case crumble, accompaniments. 


Made in a 10 inch springform pan, this cake generously serves 10-12 people. 


There is a lot going on in this crumble. From the tender, sweet cake bottom, to the tart, baked apples, to the cinnamon crunchy crumble top, it is a sweet tooth satisfying trifecta.

No matter how many apple recipes you have in your repertoire, you need to make room for one more. This one. With apple season in full swing here in the states, this Cinnamon and Apple Crumble is yet another reason to make a trip to an apple orchard (or the market) sooner rather than later. 

Recipe
Cinnamon and Apple Crumble (slight adaptation to Meike Peter's Apple and Cinnamon Crumble recipe)
Serves 10-12

Ingredients
Cake
125 grams of unsalted butter, room temperature (or 9 1/2 Tablespoons)
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 teaspoon of commercially made vanilla sugar)
Pinch of kosher salt
125 grams of granulated sugar (or slightly less than 2/3 cup)
250 grams of all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cups plus 1 generous Tablespoon)
4-5 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/4 inch slices

Crumble
125 grams of unsalted butter (or 9 1/2 Tablespoons), melted
125 grams of granulated sugar (or slightly less than 2/3 cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 teaspoon of commercial vanilla sugar)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
200 grams all-purpose flour (or 1 1/2 cups plus 1 Tablespoon)

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
2 Tablespoon confectionary sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste (or vanilla)

Directions
Cake
1. Preheat oven to 355 degrees (F). Butter and/or spray a 10 inch springform pan and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy (approximately 3-4 minutes).
4. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Note: Scrape sides of bowl between egg addition.
5. Blend in flour mixture, beating on low until well blended.
6. Spread cake batter in prepared plan. 
7. Arrange the apples on top of the batter, pressing lightly into the batter. Note: I sprinkled the top of the apples with a cinnamon sugar mixture before topping with the crumble. To make the cinnamon-sugar mixture, blend together 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 Tablespoon of caster or granulated sugar.

Crumble
1. In a medium sized bowl, blend the flour, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter until crumbles form. Note: If the mixture is too dry, add some additional butter. If too wet, add more flour, 1 Tablespoon at at time. 
2. Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over top of the apples.
3. Place baking pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until top is golden and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Allow cake to cool in pan for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife along the edge of the cake and remove springform pan ring. Transfer cake to a plate or platter.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream
1. In a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip cream at high speed until soft peaks form.
2. Add confectionary sugar, vanilla paste and cinnamon. Continue beating until firm peaks form.
3. Serve crumble with Cinnamon Whipped Cream and/or vanilla ice cream. 


Grazing horses in northern Illinois.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts


Autumn is cool, crisp air; the smell of and warmth from a wood burning fire; vibrant red, orange and yellow landscapes; caramel apples; golden cornfields set against a blue sky; Indian corn, gourds, and pumpkins; apple picking season; and, of course, apple cider doughnuts. On a beautiful fall day, a friend and I drove up to an apple orchard in northern Illinois on a near perfect day. With the air filled with the intoxicating aroma of apple cider doughnuts and trees dripping in apples, we were beyond giddy with excitement. Needless to say we left with more than some freshly picked apples. Although buying only a single cinnamon sugared apple cider doughnut to savor on the ride home may have been the most questionable decision of the day.


With the taste of that cinnamon sugared apple cider doughnut still lingering on my palate, the decision to make some here at home wasn't at all that surprising. Instead of making a ninety minute doughnut run drive, all I needed to do was walk into the kitchen. In less than an hour, I had a platter of eighteen of the most beautiful, delicious, mouthwatering, cakey mini baked apple cider doughnuts. 


If you haven't yet been swayed to buy a doughnut pan, these Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts should be what finally motivates you to get one, or two, of them.

These Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts have an incredible cake-like texture and spiciness to them. Due in large part to the thick batter, the use of two (versus one) teaspoons of baking powder and the use of multiple spices. In fact this batter was so thick I would loosen it up with a slight increase in the amount of buttermilk. Instead of using only a half-cup of buttermilk, I recommend using a half-cup plus no more than an additional two tablespoons. While the batter will still be on the thick side, it should be easier to pipe into a prepared doughnut pan.

The apple flavor in these doughnuts comes from an apple cider reduction. One cup of fresh apple cider is reduced to a quarter cup over medium-low heat. In approximately 15-20 minutes the cider will reduce and have a thin syrupy consistency. When buying apple cider, make certain your don't buy an apple cider blend (meaning it has been somewhat diluted) as it will not have the same depth of flavor as a 'real' apple cider.

Instead of using only cinnamon and nutmeg in the batter, I used a homemade apple spice blend. The combination of the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves and hint of cardamom adds a flavor dimension not found in the use of cinnamon/nutmeg only.

Both granulated and brown sugar are ingredients in the doughnut batter. For the brown sugar, you can use light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, or a combination of the two. I used a combination of the two.


Using a mini-doughnut pan, these Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts bake in a preheated 400 degree (F) oven for 10-12 minutes (or until they are lightly browned and are springy to the touch). Once baked, the doughnuts should be flipped onto a cooling rack.


Instead of giving these doughnuts only the more traditional cinnamon-sugar finish, I decided some of them should have a cinnamon sugar glaze. The glaze is made with sifted confectionary sugar, brown sugar, a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon, a pinch of kosher salt and some whole milk. And honestly, I can't decide which of these finishing touches I prefer. Both are seriously luscious.


Once the glaze has set, the doughnuts can be stacked on a platter and served. If not serving immediately, store in a tightly covered container or cover tightly with a strong plastic wrap. They will retain their freshness for up to 2 days if properly stored although they are not likely to last that long.


At least one more trip to an apple orchard is planned in the weeks ahead, however, the number of batches of these Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts to made has yet to be decided. More than one, but less than a hundred. And after you make your first batch of them, you too are more than likely to make them again. If not for their aroma while baking in the oven or for their ridiculous cuteness, but for their insane scrumptiousness! Let me know if you can walk after eating just one of them!

Recipe
Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts (inspired from multiple sources)
Makes 18 mini-doughnuts

Ingredients
Doughnuts
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 teaspoons apple pie spice* (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup dark or light brown sugar (or a combination of both)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup apple cider (reduced to 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons buttermilk

Cinnamon-Sugar 
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
pinch of kosher salt

Cinnamon-Sugar Glaze
1 cup confectionary sugar, sifted
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar
pinch of kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
2-3 Tablespoons whole milk
Sprinkles optional

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (F). Lightly spray a doughnut pan with vegetable spray and set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, reduce the one cup of cider to 1/4 cup over medium-low heat (approximately 15-20 minutes). Allow to cool to room temperature.
3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and apple pie spice. Set aside.
4. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar.
5. Beat in eggs one at a time until fully incorporated.
6. Reduce speed to low and blend in reduced apple cider and buttermilk.
7. Add in flour mixture until just incorporated. Do not over beat or mixture will be sticky.
8. Transfer batter to a pastry bag (or a ziplock bag with corner cut), and pipe into prepared doughnut pan.
9. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and/or doughnuts spring back when pressed lightly. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.
10. To make Cinnamon Sugar: Combine sugar, cinnamon and salt. To make Cinnamon-Sugar Glaze: Combine confectionary sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Add milk one tablespoon at a time. Stir until smooth. 
11. For a Cinnamon-sugar finish to the doughnuts, brush or dip doughnuts into melted butter. Then toss in cinnamon sugar until evenly coated.
12. For a Cinnamon-sugar glaze finish, dip top of doughnuts into glaze. Allow to set on a wire rack.
13. Serve immediately. Or store in a tightly sealed container. Doughnuts are best eaten with 48 hours (if they last that long).

*Apple Spice Mix: Combine 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and pinch of cardamom. Store any unused spice mixture in a tightly sealed jar or plastic bag.

Notes: (1) If finishing the Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts in the Cinnamon-Sugar Glaze, double the recipe. (2) The Apple Spice mix gives the finished doughnuts a deeper, more complex flavor. (3) If dipping the doughnuts with the cinnamon-sugar glaze, can make them more festive by finishing them with sprinkles. (4) When buying apple cider, buy fresh and, if possible, organic. These ciders are usually found in the refrigerated section of grocery stores. (5) I used a combination of light and dark brown sugars when making these doughnuts.


Day at the apple orchard.