Baked Apple Cider Donuts (Small Batch)

Sunday 17 October 2021

Baked Apple Cider Donuts 

Homemade Apple Cider Donuts.  These are a favorite treat this time of year when the outdoor colors are changing and the air is filled with the scent of wood-smoke, drying leaves and fresh apples. 

Moist and spicy and coated in cinnamon sugar, they go down wonderfully served up on a damp overcast day with a hot drink.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts 

Baked and not fried, I adapted my recipe from one which I found on NY Times cooking site by Erin McDowell. You can find the full sized recipe here

I didn't want or need a dozen donuts however, so I cut the recipe in half to make just six, deliciously dense, cake-like, cinnamon sugar, cider spiked donuts!

Baked Apple Cider Donuts 

In the UK, all apple cider was hard cider, meaning alcoholic.  Here in the beautiful Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, cider this time of year is sweet cider, of the non alcoholic variety.

Made from freshly pressed apples there is no alcohol present in this cider. The alcohol develops a bit later on as the cider ferments.  Eventually it will turn to vinegar, but that's a whole different story.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts 

My first husband came from a farming family here in the valley. They had a few orchards scattered here and there. The best pickings are used for selling to eat out of hand.

The drops are pressed and used to make apple cider, apple sauce and the like.  I picked drops one year and it is back breaking labor.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Drops are the apples which fall off the trees. Found on the ground, there is a lot of picking involved to fill one of those big wooden bins, which seem to loom larger and larger as the day progresses.

Normally, or at least back in those days, you were paid by the bin, not by the hour. If you were a good and quick picker you could make a decent wage.  

But, I kid you not, it was hard work. Farm work always is.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts 

I like to get a jug of fresh cider early in the season when the apples are sweet and the cider sweet as well. In the UK you can use pressed apple juice (the good stuff you find in the chiller section of the shops.)

You can cook the cider down to make a more concentrated flavor for baking, but I am always happy with it just as it is. 

If you want to reduce it, begin with approximately 1 1/2 cups (360ml) of the sweet cider and cook it over moderate heat, until it has reduced to approximately 1/2 cup (120ml). 


This will take about 20 minutes. You won't need all of it for this recipe, but you can keep it in the fridge to use another time.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Fresh cider is an unpasteurized form of apple juice. It is raw and has not been processed. No filters have been used to remove particles of pulp.

Slightly opaque, it is highly perishable because of this, but it is also very delicious. 

It is perfect for drinking fresh out of the refrigerator (it must be kept refrigerated) and it is lovely served warm and mulled with spices as a hot drink.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

It is beautiful in baked goods as well. Delicious things such as cakes, muffins and these baked Apple Cider Donuts I am sharing today. 


Other than apple cider there is nothing very much out of the ordinary here.

  • apple cider (in the UK use pressed apple juice, not alcoholic sparkling cider)
  • all purpose flour
  • granulated sugar
  • light brown sugar
  • vanilla
  • salt, cinnamon, nutmeg
  • eggs
  • butter

Baked Apple Cider Donuts


One of the things I love most about these donuts is that they are not fried. This means I don't have to feel overly guilty in indulging.  

I hate the fuss and muss of deep frying. It makes your house smell.  I don't like it when my house smells like a fat fryer.

When I was a very young bride we lived over top of a cafe and bus stop. Our apartment always smelled like deep fried foods. That gets old really quickly.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts 

To start off with, I like to have my butter and egg at room temperature for these donuts. Some of the butter will be creamed to make the batter and some of the butter will be melted to finish them off.

You will need a donut pan to bake these in. I use a six hole Wilton one which I bought on Amazon. It makes medium sized donuts, not small ones.

The butter for the batter needs to be creamed together with both white and brown sugars until light and fluffy. I use my electric hand mixer for this.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Once it is light and fluffy, I beat in the egg and the vanilla. Again with the electric mixer.

I always like to sift my flour, spices and leavenings together. 

Baking powder and soda are known as leavenings. Leavenings are ingredients which are used in baked goods to give them lift and make them rise.

By sifting the dry ingredients together you ensure that the leavening and spices are evenly mixed throughout the flour. 

I use a large sieve for this.  In the old days they would have used a flour sifter, which was a jug shaped thing with several layers of wire mesh in the bottom.  Both do the same thing, with the same results.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts 

The dry ingredients get beaten into the creamed mixture until thoroughly combined.  You then beat the apple cider in slowly so that it also gets combined and the cake mixture doesn't curdle.

Once you have a smooth homogenous batter, I pop it into a zip lock baggie.  This makes it easy to pipe the dough into the buttered/sprayed donut pan.

Just clip off a corner with some kitchen scissors (1/2-inch opening) and start piping.  Try to get them as even as you can so that your donuts are all the same size. 

These only need to bake in the oven for about 12 to 15 minutes to perfection. You will know they are done when they are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the thickest portion comes out clean.

Baked Apple Cider Donuts 

Once baked you leave them to cool in the pan for about five minutes before tipping them out onto a wire rack.  

Once you can handle them it is an easy job to brush the rounded tops and sides with melted butter and then to dredge the still warm and butter covered donuts in cinnamon sugar to coat.

I used a bit more cinnamon in the dough than the original recipe.  These smell and taste AMAZING!!

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

I enjoyed one of these warm for my lunch with a cup of hot spiced apple drink/tea.  Oh my but it was some good.


I could have easily eaten another one, but I need to exercise some self control. These are the perfect autumn treat! 

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Quick and easy to make. Cakey, moist and dense  textured, with a lovely cinnamon sugar crunch. These baked apple cider donuts are quite simply fabulous!

I am now wishing I had baked the full recipe and made an even dozen. In retrospect, however, its probably a good thing for my waistline that I did not.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Author: Marie Rayner
Prep time: 10 MinCook time: 15 MinTotal time: 25 Min
These delicious baked doughnuts are a real autumnal treat. You do need a doughnut baking pan to make them the right shape. Alternately you can bake in a medium muffin tin. Delicious any shape you decide to bake them!


For the donuts:
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 TBS (115g) all purpose plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 5 TBS butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (80g) soft light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 TBS granulated sugar
  • 1 large free range egg, room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 fluid ounces (60ml) apple cider
To finish:
  • 1/4 cup (60g) butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F/180*C/ gas mark 4.  Lightly spray a 6 cavity non-stick doughnut  baking pan with cooking spray. Alternately spray a 6-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then the vanilla, scraping the bowl as necessary.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture, making sure it is thoroughly combined. Drizzle in the apple cider beating it in thoroughly as you go. The batter should be smooth.
  5. Spoon or pipe the batter into the prepared tin.  For doughnuts bake 12 to 15 minutes. For muffins 15 to 20 minutes. 
  6. Leave to cool in the pan for a few minutes before tipping out.
  7. Melt the butter in a bowl. Whisk the cinnamon and sugar for the topping together in another bowl.  Brush the surface of each doughnut with some of the melted butter and then dredge/roll in the cinnamon sugar. 
  8. For muffins, dip the tops in the melted butter and then in the cinnamon sugar.
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  1. Ooh ! Marie ! I so nearly deleted this post in my email...and then I saw that you said "No faffing about with deep fat frying " Yay ! Perfect ! :)

    1. I Hope you will try them and enjoy them Debs! They really are good and much lower in fat than the fried ones! xoxo

  2. My favorite fall treat. These look delicious!

  3. I remember buying these at the apple orchard a few times, but if u didn’t go early then they would already be sold out!
    They only made a fresh batch once a day.
    Sooo good and I never liked apple cider only my son did but those doughnuts still make my mouth water!
    I need a doughnut pan so I can bake these! Lol

    1. They are a huge sell out at apple orchards and shops for sure! You really DO need to bake these! lol xoxo

  4. If you were to reduce the apple cider, how much of the reduced cider would you suggest using?

    1. I use the same amount, 1/4 cup, 2 fluid ounces or 60ml. The point of reducing it is to intensify the apple flavor.

    2. Thank you Marie.


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