Last week I was in desperate need of a fall spice fix. I’d recently found my donuts pans while cleaning out my baking supplies and we had a two large jugs of local apple cider, so the solution was obvious — apple cider donuts!
There’s a plain baked donut recipe from the early days of this blog, and this version is a direct descendent. I remember trying several baked donut recipes at the time of that original post, and the base recipe from The Kitchn was our clear favorite. It uses both yeast and baking powder for leavening, taking a page from southern-style angel biscuits. I love the texture of these donuts — they’re light, but still have the pleasing heft of a cake-style donut thanks to a good dollop of sour cream. To “apple ciderify” the base, I swapped out some of the sugar for light brown, added a good dose of apple pie spices, and used some reduced apple cider for the liquid. I also like to use a little bit of wholegrain flour to hint at rustic heartiness.
These donuts are most delicious still a little warm from the oven, though I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying one the next day with my morning coffee. Maybe I shouldn’t have small batched them… (FWIW, the recipe is easily doubled.)
A few notes:
You can use either instant or active dry yeast for this recipe. If you’re using active dry, there really isn’t a need to activate the yeast in liquid beforehand as long as you know it’s still good. If you’re unsure, you can bloom it in a couple tablespoons of the apple cider, then whisk the bloomed yeast-cider mixture into the wet ingredients in step three. (Remember to subtract the amount of cider you use for blooming from the total cider called for in the recipe.)
Feel free to adjust the spices to your liking. I know many people dislike cloves, but it’s a spice that reminds me of mulled cider so I like to add a pinch. Cardamom would be nice here too, if that’s your jam. I do think that fresh nutmeg is a crucial spice not just for apple-y things, but for donuts in general. Freshly grated makes all the difference.
The most time consuming part of this recipe is reducing the apple cider and letting it cool. If you want fresh apple cider donuts in the morning, I suggest doing the reduction the night before and letting it cool at room temp overnight.
25 g (3 Tbsp) einkorn flour (can substitute whole wheat, spelt, or more all-purpose)
1 tsp instant yeast (or active dry)
50 g (1/4 c) granulated sugar
50 g (1/4 c) light brown sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of cloves
1/2 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal brand; use 2/3 the amount for another brand of kosher salt or sea salt and 1/2 the amount for table salt)
1 large egg, at room temperature
70 g (scant 1/3 c) reduced apple cider, at room temperature (see Notes)
70 g (scant 1/3 c) sour cream, at room temperature
28 g (2 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
50 g (1/4 c) granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of cloves
42 g (3 Tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle. Grease a 6-count donut pan (I have this one) with baking spray and dust with flour. Make sure to grease and flour the raised center of each cavity too, as that is where donuts like to stick.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, instant yeast, sugars, baking powder, spices, and salt.
In another bowl, whisk the egg, reduced apple cider, sour cream, melted butter, and vanilla until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until completely incorporated. Transfer the batter to a disposable piping bag and pipe into the prepared pan. Each well should be about 3/4 full. (You can also spoon the batter into the pan, but a piping bag is much easier and cleaner.)
Bake the donuts until puffed and golden, about 15 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. While the donuts are baking, whisk together the granulated sugar and spices for the topping.
When the donuts are done baking, remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the donuts from the pan to the wire rack — I use a small offset spatula to gently dislodge them, then turn onto the rack. They should turn out easily if your pan was well prepared.
While the donuts are still warm, use a brush both sides with melted butter and sprinkle with the spiced sugar. Donuts are best enjoyed still slightly warm from the oven, preferably with coffee or warm apple cider.
Note: To make reduced apple cider, simmer 240g (1 c) apple cider over medium heat, stirring occasionally,until it has reduced to 80g (1/3 c). This is easiest to do if you weigh the pot with the non-reduced cider before starting to simmer. Subtract 160g from this number — this is your target weight after reduction. Exact time will depend on the size of your pan and how warm your stove is — start checking around 15 minutes. Pour reduced cider into a heatproof container and cool to room temperature before using. I make a little more than is called for in the recipe to account for small amounts that might be left in the pan.
As the mornings and evenings begin taking on a chill, I inevitably find myself adding an extra shake of cinnamon to my banana bread and searching out my jewel-toned sweaters. It’s fall, y’all — my favorite season! Even though this year continues to perplex in so many ways, I take comfort in the constants: crimson-colored leaves, fresh apples, slowly simmered soups, pumpkin patches.
There will be apple and pumpkin pies, for sure, but first — these salted, malted oatmeal cookies! These cookies are inspired by the spelt and honey oatmeal raisin cookies in my upcoming cookbook, Baked to Order — consider it a bonus variation! If you’d like to learn more about Baked to Order or to pre-order (incredibly helpful for authors these days!), please head over to my dedicated cookbook page — it has more information specifically about the book along with a list of places you can purchase all over the world. Also, I’ve got some some previews and giveaways planned closer to the launch date, so follow along on Instagram to get in on the fun!
OK, back to this recipe! To inject fall vibes into these cookies, I reached for malted milk powder, a mix of grain extracts and milk powder. (For a more detailed description, read this excellent article by Stella Parks.) Adding malted milk powder to baked goods imparts a roasty, toasty caramelized flavor — perfect for fall!
I like these cookies with lots of toasted nuts (I used pecans, but walnuts would be excellent too) and a hint of milk chocolate. Substitute a different type of chocolate if you prefer, but I enjoyed how the sweetness of the milk chocolate complemented the robust malty flavor. But your cookies, your choice!
A couple of notes:
A little inverted sugar gives these cookies the perfect amount of chew. I used golden syrup here — its caramel notes work so well with malt. Find golden syrup at your local British food store (many major supermarkets also carry it), or online. In a pinch you can substitute honey.
Malted milk powder increases browning, so it can be a little tricky to judge when these cookies are done. You want the edges to be set but the centers should be a little soft and lighter in color — the cookies will continue to set up outside the oven. Whenever I make a new cookie recipe, I like baking a single test cookie to test the perfect amount of time in my oven; that way you avoid an entire batch of over or under-done cookies.
A couple tips for beautiful looking cookies: first, for perfectly round cookies, use a round cookie cutter, offset spatula, or spoon to nudge the cookies into shape right after you take them out of the oven (do this right away before they completely set). Second, hold back a little bit of the mix-ins (nuts and chocolate) and stick a few pieces on top right before baking to give each cookie some visual interest. (And don’t forget the flaky salt!)
You can chill unbaked dough in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage. For oatmeal cookies in general, I prefer letting the chilled dough soften at room temperature before baking (I take them out 30-60 minutes before baking, or at least while the oven is preheating if I forget to do it sooner). I find they spread better that way.
Salted Malted Oatmeal Cookies
Makes about 15 cookies
113 g (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use 2/3 the amount for another brand of kosher salt or half the amount for table salt)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1½ tsp pure vanilla extract
125 g (1 cup) all purpose flour
150 g (1⅔ cup) rolled oats (not quick)
120 g (1 cup) toasted pecans, chopped
85 g (½ cup) chopped milk chocolate
Flaky salt, for garnish
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugars, golden syrup, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, espresso powder, malted milk powder, and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple times during this process to ensure even mixing.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the egg and vanilla. Increase the speed to medium and mix until smooth. Scrape down the bowl and paddle.
With the mixer on low, add the flour. When there are just a few streaks of flour remaining, add the oats, followed by the pecans and milk chocolate. Mix just until combined. Use a flexible spatula to stir from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure everything is well-mixed and there are no pockets of unincorporated flour. Cover and chill until just firm, about 45 minutes.
While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Portion the dough into ping-pong sized balls, about 55-60 grams each. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets about 2½ inches (6 cm) apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time until the edges are set and golden but the centers are still soft and pale, about 13 to 15 minutes. Rotate the sheet in the oven halfway through baking. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store leftovers for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
We celebrated my older girl’s third birthday last week — how did that happen? It seems not that long ago that we were celebrating her impending arrival — and now she’s a happy, rambunctious child who loves kimchi, unicorns, pickles, rainbows, and berries.
Unlike her older brother, Hannah didn’t have too many requests regarding her birthday cake: just “strawberries.” So here we are with strawberry cake! I am happy to report it was a huge hit with the birthday girl, who usually isn’t too much of a cake person — she gasped with delight when she saw the cake, asked for seconds, and gobbled up the leftovers the next day. I think I know what her birthday cake tradition will be now.
A few notes:
The main challenge when baking with strawberries is that strawberries contain a lot of moisture. I chose to cook down the strawberries until they were reduced in half by weight — this concentrates the flavor beautifully. The reduction is easy to track if you use a kitchen scale. For this recipe, you’ll want to start with 240g strawberries (either fresh or frozen works), which is double the weight of the needed reduced puree. Add the strawberries to your saucepan (halved if large) and weigh the entire pan with the strawberries inside. Then subtract 120g from that number: this is how much your pan should weigh when your strawberries have reduced enough.
For this particular cake, I wanted a small but tall cake so I could do a rainbow effect. I divided the batter among three 4-inch pans (filled about 2/3 of the way, about 225g each), and baked off the rest of the batter as cupcakes. Pro tip: if you’re just baking a cupcake or two, pop your cupcake liners in individual ramekins so you don’t have to take out your entire cupcake pan!
The 4″ cake layers are thick, so I cut each in half for a total of 6 layers. You can do this with 6″ layers as well if you prefer more frosting and filling. Note that you’ll need a little extra frosting and filling if you go for additional layers.
For the rustic rainbow effect, I divided about a cup of swiss meringue buttercream (recipe from my book) into 5 equal parts, then tinted using gel food coloring (I mixed the colors individually, so sorry — no specific colors here). After crumb-coating and chilling the cake, I used a small offset spatula to swipe on equal bands of color, starting at the bottom. I placed Callebaut crispearls around the top edge for the gold “crown.”
Boxed strawberry cake has something of a cult following, but isn’t something I grew up eating. One of these days I’ll try the boxed version to see if this bears any similarities! My main objective for this cake was that it should taste like real strawberries and use real strawberries, preferably without fake extracts or difficult-to-find ingredients. I did use a tiny (1-2 drops) of red gel food coloring for a lovely pink hue — if you omit this, your cake will be tinted mauve/purple.
I wasn’t originally planning to blog about this cake, so sorry — I don’t have any great interior shots. The next time I make this cake I’ll update this post with more photos!
Strawberry Buttermilk Layer Cake
Makes one 2-layer, 6-inch cake
For the reduced strawberry puree:
240g strawberries, halved if large, fresh or frozen (but defrosted)
A couple pinches of granulated sugar, if needed
For the strawberry buttermilk cake:
100g all-purpose flour
100g cake flour
120g reduced strawberry puree (see notes above)
70g buttermilk, at room temperature
1-2 drops of red food coloring (optional, for more intense color)
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
200g granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal; use 2/3 the amount for another brand of kosher salt or 1/2 the amount for table salt)
30g neutral vegetable oil (I use grapeseed)
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp pure almond extract
2-3 cups of frosting, depending on your design (see notes above)
Strawberry jam, if desired
Make the reduced strawberry puree: Place the 240g strawberries and sugar, if using, in a medium saucepan. Weigh the entire pan with the strawberries inside. Subtract 120g from this weight and write this number down — this is how much the pan should weigh when your berries are sufficiently reduced. Heat the berries over medium, stirring frequently, until the berries break down and come to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue simmering and stirring until the mixture is thick like tomato sauce and the pan hits the target weight — about 25-30 minutes, but will depend on the size of your pan and heat of your stove. Scrape the bottom and the sides of the pan frequently to avoid scorching. When the berries are sufficiently reduced, transfer to a heatproof container and cool to room temperature before using.
Make the strawberry buttermilk cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle. Line the bottoms of two 6-inch (15-cm)-round cake pans with parchment paper, then grease the pans and dust them with flour.
In a small bowl, sift together the all purpose and cake flours and whisk together thoroughly.
In a glass measuring cup, whisk together the reduced strawberry puree, buttermilk, and food coloring (if using).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix on low to combine, then increase the speed to medium and cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Use a flexible spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle a couple of times during this process. Add the oil and mix well to combine. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.
Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well to combine. Scrape down the bowl and the paddle.
With the mixer on low, add the flour and strawberry-buttermilk mixture in five additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Use a flexible spatula to fold from the bottom of the bowl a few times to make sure the batter is well-mixed.
Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans, about 385 grams of batter each. Use an offset spatula to smooth the tops.
Bake until the cakes are puffed and set and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, about 25 to 32 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Once the pans are cool enough to handle, run an offset spatula around the edges and turn the cakes out to finish cooling completely. For easiest assembly, wrap and chill the cakes in the fridge before filling and frosting.
Assemble the cake: Trim the tops of the cakes to level if needed and peel the parchment paper off each one. Fill a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip with about 1 cup of buttercream. Place a dollop of frosting on a cake board, plate, or cake stand and place the first cake round on top. Pipe about ⅓ cup of buttercream onto the first cake round and spread it on smoothly using a small offset spatula. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the edge of the cake to create a dam. Fill the center with an even layer of strawberry jam. Finish by placing on the last cake round, top side down (this keeps the crumbs in while also ensuring a flat top). Use an offset spatula to spread a thin layer of buttercream over the entire cake to lock the crumbs in. Refrigerate for about 10 minutes, until set. After the cake has chilled, frost and decorate as desired. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.