As some, few, or none of you may recall, I spent my second blogiversary in search of a high chair from which I could celebrate my third blogiversary. Alas, this fateful anniversary is upon us and here I lay sprawled out on my aqua-colored comforter on my full-sized bed, the only chair in sight: a stool.
I’d rather not celebrate from a stool–that’s more of a place one goes to sit in a time of punishment, or when all the other comfy chairs at the bar are already taken, or if you’re modeling, scantily-clad, for a painter. So here I’ll sprawl, pop a non-existent bottle of champagne, cue the up-beat mariachi band in my head, and celebrate. Ahhh, a cyber-success.
The story I’m about to share captures what blogging has meant to me this past year. It’s a story about the pursuit of genuinely good food with genuinely good company. It’s a throwback to the post I wrote on my first blogiversary. And most of all, it’s the tasty tRuth.
In Pursuit of Apple Cider Donuts
I’d just spent 14 days challenging myself to eat no grains, no dairy, and no added sugar. That’s “paleo” to some of you, and probably “foolish mistake” to the rest. Either way, it was two weeks during which I enjoyed being fully tuned into my bodily functions. I learned of the gaseous consequences of a high-protein diet, rekindled my love for dousing roasted veggies with tahini, and found within myself a strong, lustful craving for: Twinkies. So Day 15: I’m in Madison, visiting my mother, fully aware that I’m free of this diet that made me feel simultaneously stuffed and starved. “Let’s go grocery shopping,” Mom requests. “OMG Twinkies,” I think to myself.
But two feet inside the supermarket’s entrance lies a table stacked high with 6-packs of apple cider donuts, and all Twinkie thoughts race down the drain in a slurry of high fructose corn syrup. “Do we need some donuts for later today?” Mom asks. Thank goodness she’s thinking what I’m thinking. “Definitely,” I reply, and place some in the shopping cart without missing a beat.
The waiting game begins. I start to wonder what exactly “later today” means. Now? 2pm? 4pm? Will I have to wait all the way until 6pm?! Eventually we start preparing dinner, the apple cider donuts visible out of the corner of my eye all the while. At one point my fingers land on the package, inching their way towards their preferred appetizer. My brain catches them just in time. “You’ve come this far, Ruthie, you can wait one more hour.” We’ve barely forked the last brussel sprout into our mouths when my Mom places the donuts, cut in half and organized beautifully on a plate, in front of me. I look at her with anxious puppy eyes glazed over with gratitude. Today, we are both eager, lustful sweet-seekers.
The first bite. The crunch of the sugared edge reaches my tongue, and then–my taste buds scream in disgust. The artificial apple flavor is so strong, I feel I need to put my shades on to dim the sensation. Worse, there are small apple chunks in the donut that are awkwardly crunchy and definitely don’t taste like apples. Mom agrees. We frown, and take a few more consolation bites. (Should have gone with the Twinkie, after all.)
A let down so big calls for some serious amends. A few days later, I found myself in my kitchen, hair streaked with butter, shirt dusted with flour, sink overflowing with dirty dishes–and counter top laden with the absolute best donuts I have ever eaten in my entire life. (Mom, your package is in the mail!) This says a lot, considering I don’t usually enjoy food I cook for myself. These are surprisingly easy to make if you have a little patience, and definitely worth every second of your donut-craving time.
So I end this year of blogging with the recipe behind one of my most passion-filled culinary adventures of the year. From me, to you. Here’s to celebrating cyber successes while sprawled out comfortably. Here’s to growing, buying, cooking and eating good food with good company. And here’s to a blog post or two to document the journey. Thank you all for following me for three years. Raise a glass–or a donut–to another tasty and tRuthful 365 days ahead.
Homemade Rustic Buttermilk Apple Cider Donuts
Makes ~18 donuts
Adapted from Food Network
2 red apples, such as Cortland or McIntosh
2 1/2 cups apple cider
3 1/2 cups all-pourpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Canola oil, for frying
Core and coarsely chop the apples (do not peel). Combine with 1 1/2 cups cider in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking until the apples are tender and the cider is almost completely reduced, about 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Measure the sauce; you should have 1 cup. (Boil to reduce further, if necessary.) Let cool slightly. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Beat 2/3 cup granulated sugar and the butter in another bowl with a mixer on medium speed until sandy. Beat in the egg and yolk, then gradually mix in the applesauce, scraping the bowl. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the buttermilk and vanilla, and then the remaining flour mixture. Mix to make a sticky dough; do not overmix. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper and pat into a 7-by-11-inch rectangle, about 1/2 inch thick. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, make the glaze: Simmer the remaining 1 cup cider in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to 1/4 cup. Whisk in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and glossy, then set aside. Mix the remaining 1 cup granulated sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl; set aside for the topping. Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees or a small bit of dough rises immediately to top when dropped in. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. Cut the chilled dough into 12 rounds, using a floured 2 1/2- or 3-inch biscuit cutter, then cut out the middles with a 1-inch cutter (or just use a knife if you don’t mind a rustic look). Slip 2 or 3 doughnuts at a time into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed. Transfer to the paper towels to drain. Dip one side of each doughnut in the cider glaze, letting the excess drip off; dip just the glazed side in the cinnamon-sugar or roll all over in cinnamon-sugar, if desired. Serve warm.