Along with pumpkins, hayrides and trees ablaze in red and gold, the best part of autumn is apple cider. Nothing tastes better than the juice of crushed apples. I love cider served chilled or simmered on the stove with spices.
I suggest buying cider at apple orchards that produce it frequently. I buy it by the gallon. At first, my family adores it. But after a while, they move on, sometimes leaving me with a surplus. Cider should be consumed quickly because after a couple of weeks it loses its brightness. That is why I incorporate it into salad dressings, fruit compotes and pastries.
The jewel of recipes is apple cider doughnuts. When I was a teenager, I began experimenting with them. No one had heard of doughnut holes back then. I rolled the dough into short, fat ropes and coiled them into circles. With my fingers, I gently tapped the ends together, sealing the circle of dough.
But children today clamor for doughnut holes, so I bought a doughnut cutter, which is made from two concentric cookie cutters, one smaller than the other, clamped together.
“I want to make doughnuts with cider,” said my 11-year-old granddaughter.
“I don’t like doughnuts,” said her 9-year-old sister. “Just the holes.”
The girls and I fried up a batch of apple cider doughnuts. We studded them with cinnamon sugar and devoured them warm. Savoring the flavor of autumn and cider, I knew why we repeat this ritual every fall.
Hot Mulled Cider | Pareve
Serves three to four
An old-fashioned refreshment without caffeine.
- 4 cups apple cider
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2½ teaspoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon orange juice
- ½ teaspoon allspice
Place all the ingredients into a saucepan. Stir to combine. Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the flame to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick. Serve immediately in mugs.
Apple Cider Dressing | Pareve
Yield: 1½ cups
This tastes best with bitter lettuce, such arugula, frisee, escarole or even romaine.
- ½ cup apple cider
- ½ cup lemon juice (about 1½ lemons)
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
Place all the ingredients into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk them until well combined. Serve immediately, or store the dressing in a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use. Bring it to room temperature and shake well until the ingredients recombine.
Apple and Pear Compote | Pareve
This lovely autumn dessert complements sorbet, vanilla ice cream or cookies. For breakfast, it enhances plain yogurt and cottage cheese.
- ¼-inch of ginger root
- 2 baking apples, such as Courtland, Gala or Fuji
- 2 baking pears, such as Bosc, Anjou and Bartlett
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- Dash of salt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup, preferably Grade A amber
- 2 tablespoons apple cider, plus ⅔ cup, or more, if needed
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
Peel the ginger root. Dice it and then chop it fine. Reserve.
Peel, core and slice the apples and pears into about 12 wedges. In a medium-sized bowl, toss the fruit with the sugar, cinnamon, cloves and salt, until well coated.
Pour the maple syrup into a deep, medium-sized skillet. Add a tablespoon of apple cider. Heat it over a low flame until warm. Spoon the fruit and the ginger into the skillet and stir to combine. Simmer on a low flame until the fruit is fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Add the apple cider a tablespoon at a time so the liquids don’t evaporate too quickly and the pan doesn’t become dry. Pour ⅔ cup of the apple cider into the skillet and cover it. Simmer it on a low flame until the fruit has softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add more apple cider if needed.
Remove the compote from the flame. Sprinkle it with lemon zest and stir to combine. Cool to warm and serve immediately or place it in a glass jar and refrigerate. It can be served cold, at room temperature or warmed in a microwave.
Apple Cider Doughnuts | Dairy
Yield: 16 doughnuts and 16-18 holes
Once you taste these temptations, you’ll make them often.
- 1½ cups apple cider
- 1 cup flour, plus 2¾ cups, plus a cup or more for flouring the counter
- 1 cup sugar, plus 1 cup
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1 heaping tablespoon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs, plus 1 yolk
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 (48-ounce) bottle vegetable oil
- 6-cup saucepan
- 4½-quart pot that is at least 4½ inches deep
- A doughnut cutter
- Candy thermometer (optional)
- Slotted spatula that won’t melt in heat, such as metal or silicone
Pour the apple cider into a 6-cup saucepan. Cover it and heat over a medium-high flame until the cider comes to a slow boil. Reduce the flame to low so the cider reaches a gentle simmer.
Watch the cider almost continuously so that it doesn’t boil over. If the cider turns foamy and rises quickly, remove it from the heat for a minute, then return it to the flame. Simmer the cider for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reduces to ¾ cup. Remove it from the flame and cool it, covered, to room temperature. Reserve.
In a large mixing bowl, place 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. With a spoon utensil, stir until the items are combined. Reserve.
In a small bowl, beat the eggs and yolk together with a fork. In a small pot, melt the butter. Using an electric beater, add the eggs and butter a little at a time to the flour-spice mixture, alternating with the remaining 2¾ cups of flour. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula at least once. The dough will be crumbly and falling apart at this point.
Moisten the dough by adding the apple cider, ¼ cup at a time. (You may not need the last ¼ cup, or maybe just part of it.) Beat until the apple cider is combined after each addition and until the dough whirls into a large ball and sticks together. Divide the dough in half. With your hands, form it into two equal-sized disks. Place the disks on a dinner plate and cover them with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.
To make cinnamon sugar: In a soup bowl with a rim, place 1 cup sugar and 1 heaping tablespoon of cinnamon. Gently mix them together with a spoon until completely combined. Reserve.
Place two layers of paper towels on a plate. Reserve. Sprinkle flour on a counter and coat a rolling pin with flour, too.
Remove a dough disk from the refrigerator. Roll out the dough until it is about ½-inch thick. Press the doughnut cutter halfway into the dough and rotate it back and forth. Lift the doughnut cutter and, with your fingers, pull out the doughnut and hole. If they get misshapen, press them back into the shape. (If you push the doughnut cutter all the way through the dough, it is difficult to release the dough.)
Lift up the scraps of dough on the counter, roll it into a disk and refrigerate until ready to use. Place the doughnuts and holes on a platter.
Take out the second dough disk and follow the same procedure. Continue making doughnuts and holes until there isn’t enough dough left to make any more doughnuts. Form the small bits of scraps remaining into the shape of doughnut holes.
Over a medium-low flame, heat the oil in a 4½-quart pot that is 4½ inches deep. As the oil splatters, it should not be any higher than half of the pot’s depth. Using a candy thermometer, if you have one, the oil should reach 375 degrees. Otherwise, let a drop of water fall into the oil from a spoon raised several inches above the pot. If the oil sputters, it is ready. Watch the heat of the oil. If it gets too hot, reduce the flame to low.
Using a heatproof slotted spatula, gently ease no more than four doughnuts and holes (one at a time) into the heated oil. At first, the doughnuts and holes will sink to the bottom of the pot. After a couple of minutes, they will rise to the surface. Turn them over and fry them another minute.
Using the slotted spatula, lift the doughnuts and holes from the oil and place them on paper towels to drain. A minute later, move them to the cinnamon sugar, turning them over to coat all sides. Move them to a clean platter. They can be eaten immediately, or cooled completely and stored in a sealed container.