In New England, warm apple cider donuts are a tradition. A delicious, delicious tradition. With a cake-like, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth texture, rolled directly in cinnamon sugar right after they come out of the fryer, they are simply one of the best things you could ever eat. I had my first of the season last weekend after apple picking (the farm we visited makes their own fresh donuts- amazing!) and I decided I needed to figure out how to make something like this on my own.
Side note- I also need to figure out how to use up about 20 deliciously crisp and juicy apples. Any ideas? Leave them in the comments below!
I adapted Yankee Magazine’s recipe to make a whole wheat (yet still amazingly fluffy!) apple cider donut muffin. These muffins have the same cake-like texture as the donuts, and are brushed with melted butter right out of the oven and rolled in cinnamon sugar. How can you resist? Answer: you can’t.
The secret to making these super flavorful and fluffy: reducing the apple cider with spices on the stovetop to create a concentrated, flavor-packed liquid to add to the batter. The whole wheat flour is added gradually, alternating with the addition of the reduced cider, in order to combine with wet and dry ingredients as minimally as possible until just combined. (The secret to making non-dense whole wheat baked goods is to handle the batter as little as possible- the less stirring you do, the less dense the final product will be. If you do this correctly, you can barely tell the difference between whole wheat and white flour, making it easier to enjoy these treats with a little less guilt.)
These are best served warm. After taking out of the oven, allow to cool in the muffin tin for a few minutes, then brush with butter and roll in cinnamon and sugar. Eat immediately, or if eating later, just pop in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. This is the perfect fall treat to have with your morning coffee, and it will make your house smell amazing while you are cooking them.
Whole Wheat Apple Cider Donut Muffins
These melt-in-your-mouth, fluffy, cake-like muffins are brushed with melted butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar right after they come out of the oven. A special trick makes these muffins super fluffy, yet they are still whole wheat!
- Prep Time: 25 mins
- Cook Time: 15 mins
- Total Time: 40 mins
- Yield: 12 muffins
For the Muffins:
- 2 cups sweet apple cider
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (or approximately 10 whole cloves)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup natural cane sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
For the topping:
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/4 cup natural cane sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan and preheat the oven to 375.
- Place the apple cider, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg in a medium saucepan. Boil the mixture for approximately 15 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by half.
- Meanwhile, cream together the butter and sugar with a standing or hand mixer until light and fluffy, approximately 4 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time; continue to mix well for one more minute.
- Add vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well with the mixer.
- At this point, if you used whole cloves in the cider instead of ground, remove from cider and discard.
- Add one third (3/4 cup) of the whole wheat pastry flour to the wet ingredients. Stir gently with a wooden spoon or spatula until just incorporated. Add 1/2 of the cider liquid. Add the second third of the whole wheat flour, and stir gently again until just incorporated. Add the remaining liquid. Finish adding the remainder of the flour gently until just incorporated. It is OK if the mixture is somewhat lumpy.
- Divide batter evenly into the prepared muffin tin cups; bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
- On a plate, mix together cinnamon and sugar for topping.
- When muffins are done cooking, remove each individually and brush the top and sides with melted butter.
- Roll each muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture and set aside.
- Eat immediately, or after cooled, microwave for 15-20 seconds to enjoy these muffins warm.
To make these more like traditional donut holes, use a mini muffin tin!