{gluten-free} Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Until last week I was in denial that the weather was really, truly changing.

I don’t like being cold. Yes, I like bundling up and being cozy, but cold is not my thing. When you live in a city, you cannot help but meet with the elements in full force, and I know soon I’ll be facing pools of slush on stopped-up street corners, shlepping my tiny dog through sopping snow four times a day, and dealing with the wind tunnels that take over some of the avenues, melting faces and freezing fingers. Yes, New York is gorgeous in the autumn with the falling leaves, and nothing fills my heart like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade prep on Wednesday or accidentally finding myself near Rockefellar late at night after the tourists are sleeping off their days. I love New York during the holidays. But I’m still not ready to give up on flip-flops and jacket-less tromping.

And yet…

There are apples and pumpkins and warm winter squashes and soup and hot tea making their way into the rotation, and for that I am uberly thankful.

Fried and sugared version.

Fried and sugared version.

There are few things I really miss from my pre-gluten-free days, which were so long ago (around twenty years from the first diagnosis) that there are a lot of things I just don’t remember. And while it’s been a bit since I’ve eaten an apple cider doughnut, I’ve still bought them by the dozen over the years. In college I’d go to an orchard by Ruark’s in Southington, Connecticut, for apples and cider and the fried dough I’d bring to our families. When I went to visit my Muffin in Massachusetts a few weeks ago, they came home with me as thank you’s to my brother and grandparents for watching Mitra. There’s just something so New England about them that I adore. So I needed one of my own.

One of my favorite pastry chefs in the world, Stephen Collucci, has a new donut cookbook out — Glazed, Filled, Sugared and Dipped — that I respect for many reasons, so I used that for reference (I’ve been trying to replicate his French crullers, but they always fry up perfectly and then collapse). I also used the beautiful post and recipe from No Gluten, No Problem. Together, I got that boiling down the cider is the best way to get flavor in without the weight of so much moisture, so I experimented with those levels for a product that is incredibly fragrant and flavorful, with a firm texture I dig.

I played around with a few things — the combo of flours I used, whether or not I wanted more cinnamon or spice, adding and taking away vanilla, pre-baking and flash-frying. Overall I found that I appreciated simplicity the most; I wanted apple cider to be the focus, and to do so needed to keep everything else in the background. So after the first two batches I 86’d the vanilla completely, and swapped out the raw turbinado sugar I’d used before for good ol’ white sugar. I used rather neutral flours, and cooked down half the cinnamon with the cider to a point that was concentrated but not fully a syrup (boiled down more than the Bronski’s version but not quite so much as Stephen’s).

Gluten-free baked apple cider donuts taking a cooling break before getting brushed and sugared.

Gluten-free baked apple cider donuts taking a cooling break before getting brushed and sugared.

As far as frying goes, while I miss the joy of a fried donut I preferred these only baked; because of how absorbent gluten-free flour blends are (since they need more starch to replace the pull of gluten), even flash-frying made me taste more oil than anything else (and, yes, I was monitoring my heat level and using a relatively clean oil). While I missed the crunch of the fried versions, I far more enjoyed brushing some additional fresh cider on the baked ones and then rolling them in a light coating of more cinnamon and sugar.

So, that’s what I got overall – a lightly fragrant donut that let the cider come through, with a texture that held its own without being as firm as a quick bread or muffin.

Okay, I guess I’ll accept that autumn’s really here.

Happy day,

– Jacqueline

Other reasons to love autumn:

My favorite batch - baked, brushed with more cider and slightly sugared.

My favorite batch – baked, brushed with more cider and slightly sugared.


{gluten-free} Baked Apple Cider Donuts


  • 2 cups apple cider, plus more cold for brushing
  • 2 tsp cinnamon, divided
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, soft (4 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 large eggs (make sure they’re large or even medium, but not extra large!)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened milk (or buttermilk, if you’re going full-dairy)
  • Cinnamon sugar, for sprinkling or dunking


Pour apple cider into a small pot and start heating on medium/high heat. Add one tablespoon of the cinnamon and start boiling it down, until it gets to a slightly sticky 1/3 of a cup.  An easy way to check the amount is by keeping a Pyrex measuring cup next to the stove and pouring back and forth as you continue with the rest of the steps.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray doughnut pan with non-stick spray. Line a half sheet tray with paper towels or a layer of paper bag. Either snip a corner from a plastic gallon bag or get a pastry bag ready with a large opening (I just use the base of my screw-on tip set, without an actual tip).

In a medium bowl, add brown rice flour, millet flour, starch, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and last teaspoon of cinnamon. Whisk really well.

Place butter and white sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment. Measure out your milk.

If the cider hasn’t reduced fully yet, I suggest drinking a large glass of water, because it’s good for you. And then hugging your dog for a few minutes, because dogs are the noblest of companion creatures and deserve hugs. If you don’t have a dog, now’s a good time to contemplate getting one, since you have time to contemplate such things while that cider boils down.

When it has, remove it to measuring cup to cool slightly.

Start paddling your butter and sugar together on medium speed until it’s a bit pale and smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add eggs one at a time and beat until incorporated, scraping the bowl between additions. Beat one additional minute until light and fluffy. Add the milk, and beat until just incorporated. Add half of the dry ingredients, and beat in. Scrape the sides of the bowl again, then continue to beat while streaming in the cider, and then finally the rest of the flour mixture. Remove the paddle, and use a spatula turn a few times, making sure all is incorporated.

Scrape batter into prepared pastry/plastic bag. Pipe into prepared pan, about two thirds of the way full and rather thickly. Bake in batches for 9 minutes, until puffy and springy, then turn directly out onto prepared sheet pan. If you only have one pan (like moi), make sure to re-spray before piping in the second batch.

Mix up about a 1/2 cup of cinnamon and sugar (I used a mix of raw turbinado and white sugar, and sprinkled in cinnamon until it looked good), and pour about 2 tablespoons of cider into a dish. Brush the bottom of a doughnut in cider and then toss both sides in the cinnamon sugar mix. Repeat until they’re all done, and try not to scarf three down in the process.

* For a naughty boost, heat about 2 inches of vegetable oil in a thick-bottomed pan until it reaches 350 degrees. Flash fry each doughnut before tossing in cinnamon sugar. This will dampen the flavor slightly, but give a really satisfying slight crunch.


  1. Chris says:

    We should end up with a dozen doughnuts then? I’ll have to sub something else for the millet flour…will sorghum work? Oh my gosh, I think I have to make these…..but don’t trust myself! I guess some will have to go to the freezer! Not that being in the freezer will stop me from eating them… Ugh…

    • Yes! Thank you – forgot to add the yield in! Sorghum should work fine in these, too. Any neutral flavor will work (so not quinoa or amaranth, for example). Let me know how they come out!! I gave mine all away and MISS THEM!

  2. Debbie Smith says:

    These look so good now I need to go out and buy a donut pan. Donuts are one of the things I miss most about being gluten free. These will be so good and so enjoyed. Thanks for all the work you put into your recipes.

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