Here in the USA, apple cider donuts are synonymous with the Fall season. Every apple orchard or pumpkin patch you visit is likely to have these tasty treats at the ready, and no Autumn excursion is complete without a cup of hot apple cider and a donut or two to go with it!
But where did apple cider donuts originate?
Apple cider donuts were first introduced by early American colonies. Before refrigeration existed, their Fall season was a time of butchering and preserving meat to use throughout the winter. As a result, colony members were left with lots of leftover animal fat, which they used to fry dough mixed with apples from the recent harvest and voilà! Apple cider donuts were born. Then fast forward to the 1950s when the Doughnut Corporation of America reintroduced apple cider donuts in an effort to increase Fall sales, and ever since then these donuts have been a staple of the season!
I'm a big fan, and my annual North Georgia apple orchard visit is mainly just an excuse to stock up on apple cider donuts. But in all the years I've been eating them, I've never tried to make them! So this year I decided it was time I did.
If you've ever had apple cider donuts then you know that they're not all created equal. And the recipe variations will boggle your mind! So I read a bunch, picked out a few to try, hosted a taste test with some of my nearest and dearest, and in the end our favorite of the lot is this recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction. Her traditional approach to this buttermilk-based recipe really showcases the apple cider flavor and produces a cakelike donut that's jam packed with Fall flavor. And although these donuts are baked instead of fried, I can confidently say they rank up there with some the best I've ever had!
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