These Whole Wheat Apple Cider Donut Muffins will be your new favorite fall treat to bake! Made with 100% whole grains and partially sweetened with reduced apple cider, then brushed with melted butter and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. Your house will smell AMAZING when you make these!
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.
But since I now live in Texas, I had to learn how to make something similar at home.
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 after they come 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.)
I made these in a regular sized muffin pan. But if you want to get a more donut “hole” kind of thing going on, I’d recommend using a mini muffin pan.
Let’s talk about the reduced apple cider.
Basically, you’re going to boil the apple cider (along with some spices- cinnamon, ground cloves, and nutmeg) until enough steam has evaporated that you’re left with about half of what you started with.
As the liquid reduces, the only thing evaporating is the water. Which means you are left with more concentrated flavor in the remaining liquid.
Adding that reduced apple cider helps enhance the sweetness of the muffins naturally. There is definitely regular sugar in these muffins, but considering how sweet and decadent they taste, there’s not too much.
These Whole Wheat Apple Cider Donut Muffins 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.
If you like these, you’ll love this Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Apple Cider Gravy, these Whole Grain Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins, these Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes, and this Chai Spiced Pumpkin Bread. And you have to try this easy apple crisp recipe to complete your fall baking!
Whole Wheat Apple Cider Donut Muffins
- Muffin Pan
For the Muffins:
- 2 cups apple cider or apple juice, in a pinch
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or 10 whole cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup butter softened
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin pan (I brushed canola oil on with a basting brush) 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.
- 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, allow to cool for at least 10 minutes. 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 and bake for only about 10 minutes.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.