The official first day of autumn may not be until September 23rd, but I’m already over the summer season and am starting to embrace the cooler weather and changing color of the leaves.
One way to get into the spirit of the season is to partake in autumn activities, one being apple picking. In an attempt to escape New York City for a little while, to reconnect with nature, and to get fresh apples for a recipe, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than to pick fruit from trees?
I visited Fishkill Farms in the Hudson Valley and both the farm and Valley were gorgeous. It was my first time out to the area, and it’s no wonder people plan their weddings there. It’s an hour and a half drive from New York City, and it’s so refreshing to be surrounded by trees and grass instead of skyscrapers and concrete, even if just for a day.
With the variety of apples I picked (Fuji, McIntosh, Spartan, Jonamac), I made baked apple cider doughnuts inspired by the emotional film, Good Will Hunting. Not only does the movie take place in the fall, but there’s a scene when Will Hunting, a highly intelligent young man who comes from working-class South Boston, gets the number from a woman he fancies and brags about it to a rich kid from Harvard (Clark) who insulted him earlier in the Harvard bar. Will approaches a restaurant window where he sees Clark sitting and through the window asks him if he likes apples. Clark says yes, and Will slaps the woman’s number on a napkin up against the window and proclaims, “Well, I got her number. How do you like them apples?”
Autumn, apples, a great movie. Apple cider doughnuts were the way to go not only because they are a staple at most apple picking farms, but also because watching a movie while eating doughnuts is a winning combination. I chose to bake the doughnuts, and I added in little chunks of the freshly picked apples. I used coconut sugar instead of white sugar (a great and easy substitute!), and used apple cider from Fishkill Farms. Fresh and delicious. Don’t forget a doughnut pan and you’ll be all set for making these autumn treats.
Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts with Apple Bits
2 cups all-purpose flour (unbleached)
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground Allspice
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup milk
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 red apple, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup white sugar (or coconut sugar)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon apple pie spice
2 tablespoons melted butter
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter the doughnut pan.
2. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, Allspice, apple pie spice, and salt.
3. Stir in apple cider, milk, eggs, vanilla, and melted butter. Mix all ingredients together until smooth. The batter will be a little on the thicker side.
4. Mince a red apple and mix together with 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan. Once the apple bits are softened, blend with doughnut batter.
5. Fill each doughnut cup to the brim, or 3/4 full if you want less puffy doughnuts. Bake for 8-12 minutes. Allow doughnuts to cool before removing from the pan.
6. In a shallow bowl, mix together the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple pie spice, and butter. Brush the doughnuts with melted butter and coat both sides with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Enjoy warm!
Food images by Lauren Jessen; Movie screenshots from Good Will Hunting, Miramax