'

Baked Apple Cider Donut Holes

By Jessica Sanders

Being a CA transplant in the DC area, I try to appreciate every second of the fall season. First of all because we don't really have seasons where I grew up, and secondly because it's one of the most beautiful times of year in the Midatlantic. So I'm enjoying all of the traditional fall activities around here, as well as the seasonal food. Especially the food. I had my first apple cider donut recently at Butler's Orchard, and wow. I had no idea - I mean, I like donuts as much as the next person, but I don't eat them very often, so I had no idea what I was missing. It was SO. GOOD. The cup of hot spiced apple cider didn't hurt, either. I wasn't planning on attempting to replicate that donut at home, but when I came across this recipe for baked apple cider doughnuts at The Kitchn, I figured I'd give them a try - I know donuts are fried, not baked, but really, how can these possibly be anything but delicious? Since I don't have a donut pan I made "donut holes" instead - mini muffins. They're so good - and a bit healthier than the fried variety - you've got to make these.  

If you guys like this recipe, try my baked pumpkin spice donut holes - very similar but with a bit of a pumpkin pie feel! 

Baked Apple Cider Doughnut Holes

adapted from The Kitchn

makes 24-48 mini muffins or "donut holes" **

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used plain nonfat Greek yogurt)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • canola cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. 
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla extract, honey, apple cider, yogurt, and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Don't over-mix - a few lumps are okay. 
  4. Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, fill a 24-hole mini muffin pan with the batter; fill each hole only 3/4 of the way, or you'll end up with huge mini muffins (maxi muffins?). Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes and cool on a wire rack. 
  5. While donut holes are still warm, melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar in another dish. Using a pastry brush, very lightly brush a tiny bit of melted butter onto the top of each donut hole, then dip the top of the muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the donut hole in the cinnamon sugar to coat the sides and top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Alternatively, you can dust the cooled donut holes with powdered sugar; I prefer the texture of the cinnamon sugar, so I went in that direction. You can also omit the butter - the cinnamon sugar sticks nicely to the donut holes. 

**Depending on the size of the holes in your mini muffin pan, you may get many more donut holes than I did - the mini muffins from my pan appear to be a bit larger than the average mini muffin pan. Take a look at the comments below to see how many other readers were able to make from this recipe - most get about 36-48 minis. 

Now go light a fire in your fireplace, make some hot mulled apple cider, and enjoy some baked donut holes! Or just eat them on their own - they're delicious either way.