Monday, October 10, 2011

Applesauce Doughnuts

Today's post was my husband Matt's choice.  I gave him a list of several recipes I've got lined up to share and without hesitation, he said "the doughnuts".  I think he's having a hard time controlling himself when it comes to these doughnuts.  He's not a big sweets-after-dinner guy (unless it's mint chocolate chip ice cream).  Most nights he can take them or leave them.  But last night as I was making these doughnuts, Matt made a point of telling me to call him when they were done (he had just sampled one of the doughnut holes hot from the oil).  Asking for dessert doesn't happen very often, so I knew he wanted them badly.

Let's not be mistaken.  I wasn't even making the doughnuts for dessert last night. I was making them for breakfast this morning.  Breakfast for my husband and his buddies who are waking up at the crack of dawn to go deer hunting.  I thought I'd send them off with something delicious to get them motivated and fill them up for a long day of waiting for the deer to pass by.  Luckily, the recipe makes lots of doughnuts, enough for breakfast for four hungry men and two little boys in the morning, plus a few for taste testing for the cook.

I saw this recipe while flipping through a magazine in the grocery store checkout ( I can't help it, I'm a sucker for a good cover photo).  Usually I can make myself put the magazine back, but when I saw the doughnuts, I was sold.  They reminded me of a doughnut that I used to get as a kid and I just needed to try them. There is a farmstand in the town where Matt and I grew up that makes and sells their own apple cider doughnuts.  Matt even worked on the farm from time to time, the owners were, and still are, friends of his family.  When we'd stop into the stand for our fresh veggies, we'd get the doughnuts (8 to a bag) and chow down.  Fluffy and covered in cinnamon sugar, they were a real treat.

Now, I am strictly a yeast risen doughnut kind of gal.  Cake doughnuts are not my thing.  I much prefer the bread-like texture of the yeast doughnut, and I like that they're not as sweet.  My favorite is a simple yeast doughnut with chocolate frosting.  But these applesauce doughnuts, like the apple cider doughnuts from that farmstand in New Jersey, might just turn me to the dark side (excuse the Star Wars reference, I live with three boys).  They're addictive and they're sitting on my counter in the kitchen right now calling me-all sweet and appley with their sticky glaze.  I'm having a very hard time not giving in and eating more.  Even the tiny doughnut holes, covered in a dusting of cinnamon sugar, know they've got their hooks in me.

Applesauce Doughnuts
From the Better Homes and Gardens Fall Baking 2011 magazine (you can also find it on the BHG website)
Makes about 2 dozen 3 inch doughnuts and doughnut holes

For the doughnuts:
4 cups flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tbs + 1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 tbs butter, melted and cooled
vegetable oil for frying
For the glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp cinnamon

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the eggs and egg yolk, sugar, applesauce, buttermilk and melted butter.  Mix with the paddle attachment until fully incorporated.  With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients until all the flour has been moistened.  At this point, the dough may seem a bit too moist and soft, but it will be just fine, promise.  Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or until easily handled.  You can also mix the dough by hand in a large bowl if you like.

When the dough is ready, heat the oil.  Fill a pot (I used a 5 quart stock pot) about halfway with the oil and heat it to 365-375 degrees (use a candy thermometer to measure the temperature).  Do not let it get hotter than that or your doughnuts will burn before they cook.

Remove the dough from the fridge and turn it out onto a well-floured work surface.  With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a 1/2 inch thickness.  Using a 2 1/2 inch doughnut cutter or a biscuit cutter of the same size dipped in flour, cut out as many rounds in the dough as you can.  If using the biscuit cutter, you'll also need a cutter for the center of the doughnut, about 3/4 inch in diameter.  My cannoli tubes worked very well for this task.  You can gently re-roll the scraps as necessary to get as many doughnuts as you can.

Fry the doughnuts 3 at a time until golden on both sides (flip them over after about 1 minute and a half) and drain on paper towels.

Make the glaze by mixing together the powdered sugar, cinnamon and applesauce in a medium bowl.  You can spoon the glaze over the doughnuts or dip them in one at a time.  The glaze will take about 1/2 hour to set.  Alternatively, you can roll them in cinnamon sugar when still warm.  That's what I did with the doughnut holes.

If you don't glaze the doughnuts, you can keep them in an airtight container over night.  But I don't think you'll have any problems getting folks to eat them.  In fact, you'll probably have to beat them away with a spoon while you're still frying them.

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