Last weekend I made my annual journey to St-Joseph-du-Lac, one of the apple picking hot spots in Quebec. The weather was incredible, close to 30 C with the humidity and sunny. Not at all the typical apple picking weather I was expecting. Normally the air up north is cool and crisp at this time of year, instead it was hot and sticky.
There were tons of people out there. We even got stuck in apple picking traffic, who knew there was even such a thing? The traffic was frustrating, but we eventually made it out into the orchard. We repeated last years taste test, and once again decided the Cortland was the way to go. Cortlands were originally bred from McIntosh, but they are firmer and sweeter. They’ll hold their shape in a pie, but you can also make a sauce out of them.
We got our hands on a good ladder and claimed a Cortland tree, then picked 20 lbs for each of us. Hopefully that’ll be enough for all the things I have planned!
When of my favourite things about apple picking is the cider doughnuts. Unfortunately, this years doughnuts were sub par, too greasy, not enough cinnamon sugar. I left the orchard craving something more, something better. The solution was to make them myself, but my deep frying experience has yielded mixed results and I didn’t want another disappointment. Instead I decided to make doughnut muffins with an apple cinnamon filling. The nutmeg in the batter and the cinnamon sugar coating completely satisfied my craving. They really do have the texture of a cake doughnut. The fact that they’re dipped in butter probably helps too.
Though these tasted amazing, I have to say that some of them fell apart when I took then out of muffin tin. I think it was my fault for letting the apple filling spread too much in the muffin, it basically created a complete separation between the layers of batter so the muffin top just came off. If you’re going to fill the muffins like I did make sure to make a little well in the batter for the filling.
Another thing you should know is that they are huge muffins. I adapted this from a Fine Cooking recipe, many of the commenters said they made these in mini muffin tins which I think is a great idea if you’re not using a filling.
Apple Cinnamon Doughnut Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 4 apples, peeled cored and diced
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp flour
- 3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 tbsp yogurt
Cinnamon Sugar Coating
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tsps cinnamon
- 1 cup sugar
- Make the filling: In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Cook stirring often until the apples are tender and release their juices. Add the flour and stir until the juices thicken. Take off the heat and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F.
- Make the muffin batter: In a large bowl cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs one at a time beating till well combined after each addition. Add the vanilla.
- In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg together. Add the flour into the butter mixture in thirds, alternating with the milk and yogurt (you should start and finish with the flour).
- Grease a muffin tin. Scoop half the batter into the muffin tin, make a little well in each muffin and fill each with a tablespoon of the apple filling. Top with the remaining batter.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. Let cool completely.
- Mix the sugar and cinnamon together for the topping. Dip the tops of the muffins into the melted butter then dip them into the sugar to coat.
The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.
I was really excited by this challenge. I’ve been meaning to make Polish doughnuts, or Paczki (pronounced ponchkee), for a while and since the challenge allowed us to use any recipe we wanted I decided now is the time. If you’ve never had Paczki, they are yeast doughnuts filled with jam (often plum) and topped with a sugar glaze and sometimes candied orange peel. They are light and fluffy and oh so delicious.
You know what makes them so good? Booze. That’s right, booze.
I got to work on the doughnuts sure that everything would come together perfectly. I believed that my half Polish self must have an innate knowledge of how to make beautifully golden and fluffy doughnuts. I was mistaken.
All of the recipes I saw called for a range of flour rather than a specific amount. It is to be added until the dough “blisters”. I thought my dough was blistering, but in hindsight I think it was still too wet. The dough is then to rise until doubled in bulk, be punched down and risen again. After an hour my dough had barely moved. I took it out of the bowl, kneaded some more flour in and tried again. On the second rise it increased a little more, but nowhere near double. No matter, I cut out the doughnuts out anyway. I brought the oil up to 350 degrees and dropped 4 or five doughnuts in, let them brown on one side then flipped them over. Except the wouldn’t stay flipped! I frantically tried to re-flip each of the doughnuts but there were too many in the pot to manage. So my first few doughnuts ended up burnt on one side and undercooked on the other. I learned my lesson and put fewer doughnuts in the oil for the second round, but in the mean time my oil had increased in temperature and these burnt immediately, although the inside was still raw. I lowered the oil temp and got a couple of decent doughnuts made. The oil temperature dropped too much though, and the last few doughnuts I made looked beautifully golden on the outside but where once again raw inside.
The few doughnuts I made that turned out were delicious. I filled some with plum jam and others with apple sauce. My filling technique needs some work because all of them were filled on one side only, as you can see below.
The conclusion I came to after all this: I need to make Paczki more often to get the technique down, otherwise I’ll have to stop claiming to be Polish.
- 6 eggs
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/3 cup room temperature butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups flour
- 1/4 cup rum
- 1 cup scalded 35% cream
- Plum jam or apple sauce
- oil for deep frying
- Powdered sugar
- Beat the eggs and salt until the eggs are light yellow, about 5 minutes. Set aside/
- In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. While the yeast is softening beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy in an stand mixer. Beat the yeast into the butter.
- Add one cup of flour to the butter yeast mixture, mix till combined.
- Add the rum and half of the cream.
- Beat in another cup of the flour.
- Add the remaining cream.
- Beat in a third cup of flour and the egg mixture. Beat for two minutes.
- Add remaining flour slowly until the dough looks like it’s blistering.
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover in plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk. Punch the dough down and let rise again.
- On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough till it’s about 1 cm thick. Cut out 2 inch circles, re-roll out the dough and cut circles again until all the dough is used.
- Heat oil to 350 in a deep fryer or a wide skillet. Fry 2-3 doughnuts at a time, when one side of the doughnut is golden flip it over and fry the other side. Drain on paper towels.
- Using a pastry bag fill the doughnuts with jam or applesauce.
- Sprinkle with powdered sugar.