Going to the farmer’s markets around town is a great way to learn about what’s in season in the New York region. And, now that’s it the fall, there’s no denying the time of the apple. Impossible to resist, I never fail to buy a bag of apple cider doughnuts whenever I see some at the farmer’s market. When it comes to such deliciousness as these, I’m always in the mood. Soft, tender spiced doughnuts, that have a slightly spiced cinnamon-sugar crust, these are definitely a New York treat.
So with the fall season here, I thought it would very timely to place a basket of freshly made apple cider doughnuts on the menu. Of course, the main problem was that I didn’t have a great recipe at hand, since I’ve never made them before. Being from the west coast, I never even had one until I moved here.
Mastering a dish that I have never made without a recipe is one of my favorite challenges. It means that I have an opportunity to create my own version of a dish people are familiar with (and generally, I’ll get to improve on it, too!) So a little recipe researching (what did we do before the internet?) brought up basically the same version of a cake doughnut style recipe. Now, a “cake style” doughnut just means that, instead of the traditional yeast leavened doughnuts we know and love, the leavening or “lift” of the dough is done by chemical reaction (i.e. baking soda or baking powder). The texture is denser, cake-ier, softer, and less chewy.
This was exactly the type of doughnut I wanted. One of the recipes suggested reducing the apple cider by half to intensify the flavor. That sounded great. I also liked the recipes that utilized brown sugar, which contains molasses. The darker flavor was something I wanted emphasized.
I compiled my master recipe and did my first test batch. I liked it. Not enough to love it – but enough. The doughnuts tasted like all the apple cider doughnuts I have tried, but it lacked a strong body and it was driven by the spices. The cake itself was not exciting enough.
In the past, I have found that miso paste, which is a fermented soy bean paste, had a profound effect on breads and cakes. It made the texture soft and full, without imparting too much savory flavor. So, in a desire to improve the texture of the doughnut, I reworked the recipe to include miso. (I use white miso, for those familiar with the product, which has a lighter flavor, as well as a lighter salinity.)
After a few test batches, I found the perfect apple cider doughnut. The center of each doughnut had a delicate, soft texture that provided a core of spiced cake and apple cider aroma. All around the edges, the doughnut had turn crispy from the cooking and was in perfect, textural contrast. After my first doughnut, within seconds, I grabbed a second. I knew I loved them.
These doughnuts are now available at the restaurant at lunch. Cooked to order and tossed in a cinnamon sugar. Delicious and a perfect New York fall treat.