Friday, October 28, 2011

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Apple Cider Donuts (doughnuts? deaux knuts?)

Any way you spell it, apple cider donuts are a delicious part of fall.  The local apple orchards have a corner spot at the farmer's market where they sell everything from strawberry-rhubarb pie to slushy cider.  While pregnant (many, many years ago) I happened upon a small package of apple cider donuts at the stand and couldn't resist.

The cinnamon sugar melted against my tongue as I bit into the crisp exterior.  The inside was reminiscent of an old fashioned buttermilk donut with the faintest hint of apple-y goodness.

That was the beginning of a love affair with cider donuts.

Fast forward to this fall.  At the point that my beloved donuts were available, I had realized my sensitivity to dairy was pretty severe.  I knew I would have to end things, but my heart would pang as we drove near the market.  Something had to be done.

Today, I think I have not only replicated the recipe - I may have even improved it.

The kids occasionally ask for the frozen gluten-free donuts at the grocery store, but they're a tad expensive and a tad... not great.

After my first batch of donuts, I can safely say that I will never, ever buy them again!  They were remarkably easy and taste amazing warm.  I think you'll find that it's worth the bit of effort involved in making them from scratch.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Apple Cider Donuts 
(pictured with maple glaze)

1 cup apple cider* 
1 cinnamon stick
a few grates of fresh nutmeg

(*Sam's has honeycrisp cider - which, of course, is what I used!)


1/4 cup of soy-free earth balance
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
 1 cup original almond milk


4 cups Pamela's Gluten-Free Bread Mix / Flour (plus enough for dusting)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
dash of ground allspice
dash of ground cloves
a few grates of fresh nutmeg


neutral oil for frying

Topping options:
cinnamon sugar
powdered sugar
maple glaze 

Simmer the apple cider and spices until reduced by half.  Your house will smell amazing now.  
You're welcome.

Mix together all the dry ingredients and set aside.

In a mixer, cream together the earth balance and sugar, then add eggs.

Slowly pour in the reduced spiced cider, apple cider vinegar, and almond milk.

Add a the dry ingredients about a cup at a time until incorporated.

The final batter will be very sticky.  
A silpat-lined baking sheet dusted with flour will make your life easier.

Pat or roll out the dough to about a 3/4" thickness.

Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator, if possible, for a half hour.

Cut to desired shape, roll, cut, roll, cut until all the bits and pieces are used.

Bring an inch of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan up to about 350°
(that candy thermometer helps here)

Carefully lower 4-5 donuts into the hot oil, flipping once they are GBD*
*golden brown delicious ™Alton Brown

Remove to a cooling rack and let cool until you can handle them.

Top any way your heart desires.  I made a mixture of cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, cloves, and allspice since I had them out from the recipe.  We rolled donut holes in that and they were delicious.  

But, when I think of donuts - and I mean good donuts - I think maple bars.  They're not popular in my area, and I didn't even taste a maple bar until well into my twenties.  
But, they are, in my opinion, the best donut on earth.  

And what could be more delicious than apples and maple together?  bacon and maple

Maybe next time.

I threw together a quick maple glaze for the rest. 
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp karo light syrup
1 tsp maple extract
1/2 tsp vanilla

Add enough hot water to reach a pourable fondant consistency and you're done.

Whisk to be sure you have all those lumps out!

Dip.  Drizzle.  Devour

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Caramel Dip for Your Apples!

Remember how I waxed poetic about the lusciousness of Bourbon Caramel Apple Dip?

That's because I have a confession...

I don't like chocolate.  I can totally live without it.  I could go every day for the rest of my years on this planet without ever having it on my tongue again.

But caramel?

Buttery, gooey, rich, softening against the tongue caramel?  Be.  Still.  My.  Heart.

Add fleur de sel and I'm done.  Done.  There is nothing better.

So, when I realized that the source of my (five years worth of!) abdominal pain may be related to dairy, my heart cracked a little at the thought of never having the amber nectar of the gods again.

Now, let me tell you - this was no small feat.  I'm a caramel snob.  Melted waxy squares from a bag will not do.  It has to be right.

I adapted my recipe and found it opaque and creamy with a slightly coconutty taste.  Bad?  Not really.  But it wasn't perfect caramel.

So, I tried another recipe from another blogger.  Utter and complete fail.  It was gritty, separated, and runny.  That one ended up in the trash after cooling in the fridge overnight and yielding nothing worth salvaging.

This morning, I decided it was worth it to try one last time.  I could have used the creamy caramel above for the kids' apple dip, but really?  I would have been disappointed in me.  I don't do disappointment well.

I came back to my original recipe with a little tweak and VOILA!  It's perfect!

Thick.  Gooey.  Luscious.  Buttery.  Tasting of burnt sugar and creme brulee and vanilla and delicious.

May this bring back your faith in dairy-free cooking and put a smile on your face:

1 Cup Soy-Free Earth Balance 
2 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups karo light syrup
(you may be able to sub agave, if you're avoiding corn.  I haven't tested it, but I don't see why not.)


2 cups of original almond milk


2 tsp high quality gluten-free vanilla

(I skipped the booze - for shame - but you're welcome to drop that to 1 tsp of vanilla 
and add 2 tbsp of maker's mark or knob creek, should your boozy heart desire)

In a small pot, pour the almond milk and bring to a simmer, 
allowing it to thicken and reduce while the sugar cooks.
(There's no magic timeline for this, just let it bubble away)

In a large, heavy-bottomed, non-reactive pan (think stainless steel stock pot) 
combine the first four ingredients, stirring regularly as the butter melts.
Insert a candy thermometer.

Continue to stir as it comes up to temperature.  
Sugar will burn, and not in a yummy caramel-y way, so don't walk away.  

Safety note: boiling sugar will burn you in ways you can't even imagine.  This isn't one for the kids, folks.  Stay safe and make sure you use a long-handled silicone spoonula.

When the sugar mixture comes up to 230°, add the vanilla (and bourbon, if desired)... slowly!
It will cause the sugar to expand, so be particularly careful during the next two steps.

Pour your reduced almond milk into the bubbling caramel... did I mention to do this slowly?  

Bring the entire mix up to 240°

Ladle into clean jars and set on the counter to cool, then refrigerate.