You might think I’m not into the holiday season since I’m not doing a Thanksgiving menu this year. Nope, totally not the case! In fact, I think I’m more into it since I don’t have the pressure of creating, making, photographing, and writing up a menu. Not that I’m a complete spectator this year. I’m just getting into the season by making non-Thanksgiving dinner dishes like this Baked Apple Cider Donuts recipe. Apple cider practically screams Fall, and I’m intrigued by the idea of putting them into donuts. This baked donuts recipe also includes a few changes to make them a bit healthier, and who doesn’t need that during a season that’s all about eating? Ammiright?
The perfect fall treat, these baked apple cider donuts are made a healthier with whole wheat pastry flour, coconut sugar, Greek yogurt and coconut oil.
Although apple features heavily in these donuts, there’s no coring, peeling, or chopping involved. In fact, there are no fresh apples to be found on the ingredient list. Instead, it has seasonal favorite apple cider plus unsweetened applesauce.
I had to buy both items along with some plain Greek yogurt and eggs. I had everything else on hand, even an unopened bag of whole-wheat pastry flour, coconut oil, and coconut sugar.
Tip: Coconut sugar and coconut palm sugar are the same thing. The bag I bought was labeled “coconut palm sugar”, but it’s the same thing as coconut sugar. And what is coconut sugar? It’s made from the sap of the coconut palm trees only, and not from any other species of palm tree.
There is also such a thing as palm sugar, but it’s made from the sap of other types of palm trees including palmyra, date, nipa, and sugar palm trees.
This recipe began much like many recipes I’ve made for baked goods. Preheat the oven, spray the pan(s) with oil, mix the wet and dry ingredients separately, then mix them together to create the batter.
That all went smoothly, although the wet ingredients were a bit lumpy. I don’t think it mattered once I mixed in the dry ingredients. However, if it bothers you like it bothered me I have a fix. Tip: Mix the yogurt and applesauce together first. Add in the rest of the wet ingredients afterward, and the mixture will be nice and smooth.
This recipe needs donut molds, but I already bought a pair when I tried making Raspberry Baked Donuts with Raspberry Glaze in November of 2021. Tip: Silicone donut molds are very soft and flexible, so they need to be placed on a sheet pan. I suggest doing this before adding the batter to them.
The batter was quite thick and definitely not pourable. The recipe gives the option to spoon or pipe in the batter. Spooning would have taken longer, so I used a piping bag to add the batter to my donut molds. No piping bag? Tip: You can add the batter to a plastic bag, snip off a corner, and use that the same way as a piping bag.
Baking the Donuts
Once the batter was in the pans, I slid them into the preheated oven on the middle rack and set a timer for 6 minutes. They were most definitely not done after that, so I added 2 more minutes. Again, they were not done, so I added another 2 minutes for a total of 10 minutes.
The donuts passed the doneness test in Step 6 and were pulling away from the sides of the pan. I took them out and allowed them to cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Alas, the first donut I tried to remove from the pan was beyond squishy. The outside looked done, but the inside was still batter.
I consulted that raspberry donut recipe I mentioned for help. It said to bake for 15 minutes at 350°F. Based on that, I turned my oven back on, added another 4 minutes to the cooking time, and then used the toothpick test.
Adding the Cinnamon-Sugar Coating
They passed the test, so it was on to cooling while I mixed up the cinnamon sugar in a shallow bowl and melted some coconut oil. The donuts were cool enough to touch after cooling for 5 minutes in the pan and another 10 minutes on a wire rack.
Coating them with the sugar mixture was simple. I created a station so I could zip right through them. Using a pastry brush, I lightly coated both sides of a single donut then dipped it into the sugar mixture, coating both sides. Tip: Work 1 at a time to coat the donuts in the cinnamon-sugar mixture to keep the coconut oil from soaking into the donut and losing its effectiveness.
Unfortunately, my first bite of my completed Baked Apple Cider Donuts was still a bit underdone and doughy. I was afraid the sugar would caramelize if I put the donuts back into the oven. I ended up microwaving them for 2 minutes at 70% power to fully bake them.
Baked Apple Cider Donuts, Take 2
I re-made this recipe a day or two later so I could troubleshoot it. This time I lowered the oven rack one notch and baked the donuts for 15 minutes at 350°F. I used the classic toothpick test to make sure they were done instead of the method in the recipe (Step 6).
This batch was a huge improvement over the first one! I think not taking the pan in and out of the oven was key. No dips in the temperature made a big difference, and this batch was done all the way through. I ended up with very cake-like and had lots of holes. All the better to soak up that tasty cinnamon-sugar coating!
Tip: The sugar will melt into the donuts if you store them overnight. I didn’t mind and could still taste it, but I have an idea to keep that from happening: use turbinado sugar. It’s coarser than organic cane sugar and adds a bit of crunch without melting. You can add it per the recipe’s instructions or bake it in. To bake it into the donuts just sprinkle it into the pan before adding the batter, then sprinkle more onto the top of the batter before baking.
This recipe lists 10 minutes to prep, 8 minutes to cook, and a total time of 18 minutes. Here’s how my time was spent:
- 13 minutes to prep
- 16 minutes to cook (15 minutes worked on my 2nd try)
- 15 minutes to cool
- 2 minutes to make cinnamon sugar (made during cooling)
- 6 minutes to add cinnamon-sugar coating
- 50 minutes total
I wasn’t surprised that I went over the times listed on the recipe since I had to increase the cooking time, but I was surprised at how much over. I went over the prep time making the batter, and adding the cinnamon-sugar coating took me way over.
The order of the ingredients in the instructions was different from the list at the top. I had to hunt for the ingredients and amounts, which always slows me down.
It doesn’t seem like the cooling time was included in the listed times. If I deduct that I end up with a total of 35 minutes. That’s still way over the time listed. But was it worth all that extra time? It sure was!