Apple doughnuts are a specialty of the shops near my mom’s house in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and when I saw this recipe in Allegra McEvedy’s beautiful book Bought, Borrowed & Stolen, I knew it was what I wanted to make after our recent apple picking trip. The recipe is a variation on a holiday classic from New York’s famous Doughnut Plant, and it’s a perfect fall sweet snack. Although I’ve replaced the pumpkin with fresh apple purée, you can simplify the process by using your favorite applesauce (or canned pumpkin).
Like any frying technique, you’ll need a decent amount of oil to crisp up the doughnuts, so plan ahead and try making them on a day you’ll be frying something else as well. Once used for frying, oil is really only good for this task, and it only lasts a few rounds before it will start imparting a bitter flavor to your food. Although a diet rich in fried foods certainly isn’t advisable, as Julia Childs said ‘Everything in moderation… including moderation,’ and if you’re going to use the oil you might as well use it for all it’s worth. Perhaps tempura for dinner and doughnuts the next day?
Whether you find to a way to use the oil twice or not, these crispy, spicy doughnuts are a great splurge for fall—a perfect party item or afternoon treat. And if you do go apple picking, make a batch of apple sauce and use a portion for these!
Apple-Ginger Doughnuts, adapted from Bought, Borrowed & Stolen
Servings: 15 doughnuts
4 medium apples, halved and cores removed
150 milliliters whole milk
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
100 grams sugar, plus 1 teaspoon extra
1 kilogram all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading and rolling
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
4 tablespoons melted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1½ – 2½ pints fry oil
2 teaspoons butter
150 milliliters milk
350 grams confectioner’s sugar
3 teaspoons ground ginger
2-inch piece ginger, washed and unpeeled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the doughnuts: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the apple halves, flesh side down, on a lined sheet tray, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until soft to the touch. Cool completely, remove flesh from skin, and purèe flesh.
Heat the milk gently until it’s just warm to the touch, whisk in the yeast and the 1 teaspoon of sugar, and reserve for 20 minutes, until frothy.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 350 grams of apple purèe, cinnamon, ginger, salt and sugar. Add the yeast mixture, beaten egg, melted butter, and the oil and bring it all together to make a soft, slightly tacky dough, mixing for about 5 minutes. Place dough on a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary in order to create a soft, elastic dough.
Roll the dough out to a ¾-inch sheet and use two circular cutters to create doughnut shapes. Re-roll the trimmings once. Cover the dough with a slightly damp towel and reserve in a warm area for 30 to 45 minutes, until the dough is springy to the touch.
For the glaze: While the dough is resting, create the glaze by melting the butter in the milk and whisking in the confectioner’s sugar, ground ginger, and vanilla extract. Coarsely grate the fresh ginger and squeeze the juice into the mixture. Reserve on low heat.
Pour the frying oil into a wide, thick-bottomed pan. Heat it to 350°F. Cook the doughnuts in batches, frying for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove from oil and briefly rest on a wire rack to allow oil to drain. Dip doughnuts into the warm glaze, covering on both sides, then return to the wire rack to dry. Serve immediately.