Apple Cider Donuts

Recipe by Zoë Kanan


Zoë Kanan, originally from Houston, has made a name for herself as one of New York’s best bakers–her work has made Pete Wells swoon. She’s previously baked at Milk Bar, Sadelle’s, and the Freehand Hotel. And until Christmas Eve, you can find Zoë at KIT, where she has immaculately-crafted holiday treats on offer.
Zoë shares her recipe for apple cider donuts. The recipe comes with a warning for the overeager: the sweet spot to enjoy these donuts is 45 minutes to an hour after frying. Also, citric acid is a key ingredient that helps balance the flavor in these donuts. Zoë says that if you don’t have an immediate source for it, it can be collected from the bottom of a bag of sour gummy candy. Life hack!

Apple Cider Donuts

Recipe by Zoë Kanan



Donut Dough

56g coconut oil, melted ¼ cup

135g sugar ⅔ cup

2 tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)

1 egg

115g buttermilk 1 cup

920g apple cider 4 cups (reduced by haf)

120g apple butter ½ cup

400g all purpose flour 3 ⅓ cups

½ tsp baking soda

2 tbsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp nutmeg

½ tsp cardamom, ground


Citric Cinnamon Sugar

200g sugar 1 cup

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp citric acid 

¼ tsp kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)


Canola oil for frying

Step one

Prepare the dough. Bring apple cider to a boil in a saucepan until it is reduced by about half, 15-20 minutes. Measure out 140g (1 ¼ cups) of the reduction and set aside. Reduce the remaining cider until it is thick and syrupy and large bubbles form. Take the cider syrup off the heat and set aside to cool.


Step two

Measure the flour, leavening, and spices into a bowl and whisk to combine. Separately, in a large bowl whisk together the melted coconut oil, sugar, salt, and egg into a thick, homogenous mixture. Add the 140g of reduced cider (not the syrup), apple butter, and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.


Step three

Tip the dry ingredients into the wet and use a wooden spoon or stiff spatula to incorporate the ingredients just until a stiff dough forms. 


Step four

Shape the donuts. Scrape the dough onto a well-floured large sheet of parchment and roll out to ½” thickness. Slide the parchment onto a half sheet pan and chill the dough, uncovered, for 15 minutes. 


Step five

Once chilled, flip and invert the sheet of dough onto a second large piece of parchment on your work surface. Peel the top parchment sheet off like a bandaid and use it to re-line the half sheet pan. Lightly grease with baking spray.


Step six

Cut the dough into doughnut shapes (3in round / punch with 1 ¼ in hole) and set on to the greased, lined tray. Dip the cutters in flour as needed to avoid sticking. Dough trim can be combined and rerolled once or used to punch out donut holes. 


Step seven

Fry immediately or wrap and freeze for up to 1 month. If freezing, bring donuts to room temperature for 30 minutes before frying. To fry, line a half sheet pan with paper towels and a cooling rack. Fill a large, high-sided pot with 3 inches of canola oil and heat to 325F. Fry the doughnuts in groups of 3 for 1 ½-2 minutes per side until deep golden brown. They should sink to the bottom then float to the top of the oil and open and puff into craggy beauties. 


Step eight

Transfer each finished donut to the prepared rack and brush all over with cider syrup. Toss warm doughnuts and doughnut holes into citric cinnamon sugar.