Cider and doughnuts. It’s a seasonal right of passage for so many of us. A beacon that lures us over a bridge from warm, sunny summer to the crisp, clean air of fall. And what a delicious beacon it is!
Some of my fondest memories of cider and doughnut are from Halloween. As a child, my hometown would have a Halloween parade and then we’d all congregate in the municipal parking lot waiting for the judges to announce the winners of the costume contest and eat cider and doughnuts. As an only child, the only “siblings” I had were my cousins so we’d all be together along with our parents, not really feeling the chill since we were warmed by our costumes and our slight sugar buzz.
These days you won’t find me in any costume parade but I do love a trip to the apple orchard with my family and two years ago I discovered an organization that sponsors “Apple Days”. There, you can taste test apples, watch applesauce being made and press your own cider. So yesterday we loaded the kids in the car and went to make cider!
The process is quite fun. First you visit the local farmer who is on hand to buy your apples. He has a variety on hand and it’s best to mix them up. Afterwards, you wash your apples, something the girls really enjoyed. Next, you have to grind up your apples into what is called pumice. You get a choice of a hand-crank machine or electric. We chose to do both and make the best of the experience. After that, you dump your pumice into the press, squeeze, and watch the sweet, amber liquid pour into the bucket.
Since we made our own cider, I figured we should make our own doughnuts too. I did a little research online and found a recipe for pumpkin doughnuts that I wanted to try. It comes from Food Network stars Pat and Gina Neeley. While the dough does have a lot of ingredients, many of them are just spices. The dough comes together quickly (even when you have three children helping) and easily. All you do is mix together the dry ingredients, mix together the wet ingredients, and combine. You don’t even have to roll it out. The soft, sticky dough pats out easily into the required half inch. Once there, you cut it with a round cutter, making a circle in the middle with a another smaller cutter. After that, a nice warm bath in hot oil…viola…doughnut!
The best sign of a good doughnut (or anything deep-fried) is that it isn’t oily at all. When you cook at the right temperature the oil cooks the food but any excess didn’t get absorbed into it. These doughnuts turned out perfectly. Not an ounce oily just a nice, deep brown. They were perfectly crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and drenched in a sweet maple glaze. They were exactly what you want a doughnut to be: the perfect texture, not too sweet and just, well, just delicious. Ella took one bite of them and declared them “perfect”. I had to agree. After that, it got pretty quiet. Everyone was too busy eating.
Maybe that’s the best sign of a good doughnut. Silence.
You can view the recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/patrick-and-gina-neely/neelys-maple-glazed-donuts-recipe/index.html