Delicious apple cider donuts using homemade apple cider and a few secret tips and tricks. This fried apple cider donuts recipe is based on a classic Norwegian recipe, making them extra special! They are slightly crisp on the outside, but super moist and melt-in-your-mouth on the inside.
I’ve got instructions how to make these donuts fried, but also how to bake apple cider donuts. There are a lot of questions around the web about donuts, so I made it my mission to answer these. Click the jump to recipe-button if you are a donut baker expert!
This recipe is lenghty because I want everyone to succeed in making my apple cider donuts. If however you feel you’ve got the basics covered, I’ve made a super simple 1 page Norwegian Style Apple Cider Donuts pdf for you to download – for free! (Opens up in a new tab).
What are Norwegian donuts?
First off, I thought I’d need to clarify what a Norwegian donut is. They are called smultringer, which I guess would translate to lard rings, which sounds gross, but IT IS NOT. They are crispy on the outside, but soft and a little cakey on the inside. The first bite when they’re just out of the fryer is absolutely to die for.
Every time, my eyes widen by that first bite. Fried donuts are the best, and these are smaller than the traditional baked donuts as well, so they are actually not that bad in terms of calories either. When I’m first having an apple cider donut, I would want to fry them. However, baking can be easier. More on that below.
Norwegian donuts are based on flour, cardamom, eggs, heavy cream and sour cream + leavener. Fried to make a really moist and flavorful donut with crispy exterior. They are traditionally not coated with sugar, but that’s nice too, especially for this apple cider donuts version!
What leavener do I use in these apple cider donuts?
We use Hartshorn, or baker’s ammonia/ammonium carbonate, for making donuts in Norway. It’s super old fashioned, but it actually does serve a purpose. It is usually used in smaller sweets such as cookies, donuts and biscuits. Perfect for things you want a little crispy. Hartshorn is an easy rising agent to work with as it doesn’t need to react with anything other than heat, so you don’t have to be careful with the dough and you can leave it for as long as you want.
If you can’t find Hartshorn, you can substitute with baking powder on a 1 for 1 ratio, or per 1 part hartshorn, 1 1/3 parts baking soda (if there is an acid in the recipe that the baking soda can react with.) In this recipe I would use 1 1/3 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder. You can also very well get away with 1 1/3 tsp baking soda and 1/2 tsp baking powder!
However, if using baking powder you can’t let the dough chill overnight. This is because the first leavening occurs when the baking powder gets wet– like when you combine the dry and wet ingredients in the recipe.
I still highly recommend you to find Hartshorn or Baker’s Ammonia, because it is truly a special rising agent, and you will get the perfect crispness on the outside of the donuts. And I always use it in my Christmas cookies!
What are old fashioned donuts?
Old fashioned donuts are quite similar to Norwegian classic donuts. They have a more crispy exterior than modern donuts, with a soft and cakey center. Just like in Norway! They often use sour cream or buttermilk for moisture and tanginess and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There are also yeast donuts which are based on, you guessed it, yeast, and they are much more airy and fluffy than regular baked donuts.
How to bake apple cider donuts
To bake these apple cider donuts, you first need a donut pan. Using a donut pan also means that the donuts will get larger. I would not use Baker’s Ammonia (mostly because I haven’t tested it yet, but it could work) and just swap with baking soda and baking powder. Use 1 1/3 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp baking powder.
Pre-heat oven to 350F (180C). Spray the donut pan with non-stick spray or a tiny brush of oil. Pour the batter into the donut pan, fill halfway up, and bake for about 10 minutes. It will yield approximately 35-40 baked donuts. Don’t worry, they freeze exceptionally well!
Can apple cider donuts be frozen?
Yes, yes, yes! As I mentioned above, they freeze exceptionally well. Of course, the crispy exterior is just for when they are newly fried. However, the flavors deepen and they actually get tastier once they’re cold. Which makes it totally worth it to make such a large batch.
As with all other baked goods, they need to be completely cold before placing in freezer friendly bags.
How do you re-heat or heat up apple cider donuts?
Pre-heat oven to 300F (150C) and place frozen donuts on the middle rack. Let them heat up for about 10 minutes, or until warmed through. As baked donuts are larger, they may need more time.
If you know you will freeze a lot of them, I would not coat the apple cider donuts with the sugar coating. It will melt when re-heating (could still be tasty of course!). I usually just thaw donuts, which makes this less of a problem.
Donuts are perfect to bring wherever when frozen. You can just take how many donuts you want that day, take them out of the freezer and go. They will thaw pretty quickly. Perfect as a lovely snack on a hike or as lunch at the office.
How many calories are in apple cider donuts?
- Fried apple cider donuts: Fried food is estimated to have an 8-25% oil absorption of the weight of the food being fried. This gets a little scientific, but my calculations say that one donut would weight approximately 25 grams, and the oil absorbed ranging between 2-6.5 grams. I need to state that this is just an estimation. So on the low 8% it would mean 105 calories per donut in total (60 donuts with sugar coating), and on the high 25 % it would be 142 calories per donut.
- Baked apple cider donuts: As these are not made using oil, the above statement would not apply here. With this dough divided to 40 donuts (less donuts because of a larger donut pan) will be about 116 in calories per donut without sugar coating. With sugar coating it will be 130 calories per donut.
So to sum up:
- 60 fried donuts with sugar coating, 8% oil absorption: 105 calories, without coating: 95
- 60 fried donuts with sugar coating, 25 % oil absorption: 142 calories, without coating: 133
- 40 baked donuts without sugar coating: 116 calories
- 40 baked donuts with sugar coating: 130 calories
As I mentioned earlier, this recipe yields a whole bunch of donuts, making each donut pretty acceptable in terms of calories. I’m not one for counting calories, as I believe these sweets are meant to be eaten occasionally and not regularly. Keeping a balanced diet is my belief.
Also, I hope I don’t need to remind you that this is only my estimation, and I could be wrong. Oil absorption percentage is a tricky thing! In the nutritional label below I will use a percentage in the middle of 8 and 25 (16%).
How to make brown butter cinnamon glazing
I haven’t perfected this glazing recipe just yet, but it tasted so good I need to share it anyway. To brown butter you add cubes of butter into a clear-bottomed pan. Melt on medium high until it smells nutty and the bottom is brown, approx. 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Let it cool slightly.
Once the brown butter has cooled a little, mix with powdered sugar, apple cider (you may reserve 2 tbsp reduced apple cider to make this) and milk to desired consistency. I used 1/2 cup brown butter, 2 cups powdered sugar, 2 tbsp reduced apple cider and 4-5 tbsp milk.
Just dip the donuts in a shallow bowl of brown butter cinnamon glazing, or you can just take a spoon and drizzle over the donuts. It was a little thick and didn’t look too good, but it sure tasted absolutely heavenly!
Apple Cider Donuts Recipe
We are finally ready to actually make the apple cider donuts recipe!
To make these apple cider donuts to actually taste like apple cider we want to use a concentrated apple cider or reduced apple cider. What we then do, we reduce our homemade apple cider (store bought is fine too), to at least half its size. Super potent flavor – yum! Add 1 1/2 cups apple cider to a small saucepan. Let it boil for 20-30 minutes or reduced to about 2/3 cup (1). Let it cool.
In a large bowl, add eggs, caster sugar and brown sugar. Beat using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer for at least 10 minutes. It should get super fluffy and thick (2). To know when it’s done you can lift your hand mixer and try spelling ‘OLE’ with the drizzle of the whisk quickly. If the O sinks before the E is formed, you need to whisk some more. This is obviously more difficult with a stand mixer.
In a smaller bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff. Carefully fold in sour cream using a spatula (3). Fold the whipped cream carefully into the fluffy egg mixture (4). Pour in 1/2 cup of the reduced apple cider (5).
Mix together the dry ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, hartshorn (or baking soda), cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg (6). Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients using a spatula.
Add just a small amount at the time to be sure it’s properly mixed without needing to overmix. Very important not to overmix! I add about 1/2 cup of dry mixture to the wet mixture at the time, and then carefully fold it in (7). Remember that the flour tend to go down to the bottom, so you need to slide the spatula along the bottom a few times too.
Chill covered in the fridge for about 1-2 hours, to make it more manageable (8).
To fry apple cider donuts
Add oil into a Dutch oven (Norwegian: jerngryte) or a large skillet. The fats used in Norway are lard (Flott matfett) and coconut fat (Delfiafett), but you can use whatever oil has a high smoking point.
Don’t melt more than 2lb (1kg) of oil at the time, at least if your pan isn’t very big. Be sure to have the cover nearby, and stay away from water as it reacts violently to the fat. When the oil is simmering around a wooden spoon, the oil is hot enough. This is about 340-356F (170-180C).
Divide the dough into smaller pieces and roll out one at a time. Leave the other pieces in the refrigerator. Flour the working surface and roll the dough with a rolling pin, until it is around 1 cm (1/4 inch) thick. Using a doughnut cookie cutter dipped in flour, cut the dough into donut shapes. If you don’t have a donut cookie cutter you can roll them with your hands and then shape them into circles.
The dough that’s ‘left over’ after you’ve cut out all the circles you can fit, has now become too hot to work with. So what I do is I place it in the freezer, while I grab a new cold piece of dough from the refrigerator.
Fry 4-5 doughnuts at the time, to avoid cooling the oil too much. They will first sink to the bottom, and then rise. You want them to be dark, but not overly so, remember they will continue to darken a bit after they have gone to the cooling rack. About 2 minutes each on each side. Pick them up using the backside of a wooden spoon. Place them on a cooling rack with paper towels.
When they are still hot, cover with the cinnamon sugar (optional). Combine sugar, cinnamon and cardamom into a shallow bowl and dip the hot donuts into the bowl. Cover nicely, and cool on a wire rack.
To bake apple cider donuts: see paragraph above.
Enjoyed this recipe? I know you’ll love these as well!
- Classic Norwegian Donuts (Smultringer)
- Norwegian Christmas Cookies (Julemenn)
- Simple Caramel Apple Pie Cake
I’d love to hear your thoughts. Comment below or tag me @thegingerwithspice on Instagram. And don’t forget to Pin it for later!
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