It's like a donut hole, but giant! Meet the Apple Cider Donut Ball. These cake-like donuts are incredibly soft and tender, and much easier and quicker to make than regular donuts. The secret? Use a cookie scoop to quickly form the donut balls.
Apple Cider Donut Balls! What are donut balls, you might ask? Donut balls are the giant cousins of donut holes, and just as amazing. You get 360° of the crispy fried bits, and an incredibly soft center. These Apple Cider Donut Balls are cake-like donuts, and since they are bigger than donut holes, you get much more of the fluffy cake-like inside with each donut ball.
You wouldn't be able to eat these in one bite (unless you're my husband), so I wouldn't recommend trying. These apple cider donut balls are so tender that they might even break when you bite into it, leaving cinnamon sugar all over your face and fingers. Enjoy every moment of it, and don't be shy to smack your lips and lick your fingers after each bite.
These apple cider donut balls came as a bit of a surprise to me. I was about to roll out the dough to cut out actual donuts, when I like to think a stroke of genius hit me (or to be perfectly honest, laziness). I picked up my cookie scoop, and *tada*! Initially, my plan was for donut holes, but my cookie-scoop (which holds 2 tablespoons) ended up forming giant donut holes. The dough puffed up so much once I dropped it in the oil to fry, so here we are with the newly invented donut balls.
Using a cookie scoop means that the dough doesn't need to be rolled out, which is a good thing for keeping these donut balls soft and tender. To keep a light cake-like texture, you need weak gluten strands. Gluten strands are developed by stirring, mixing, kneading and otherwise handling the dough, such as rolling it out. By eliminating the need to roll out the dough, we're making sure that the dough isn't over handled, and the gluten strands won't be overdeveloped. You end up with a melt-in-your-mouth donut. So not only are they quicker and easier to make than actual donuts, but they're also incredibly moist, soft and tender. Yum.
Apple cider syrup
- 1 ¾ cups apple cider
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Apple cider donut balls
- 3 ½-4 cups all-purpose flour - plus extra as needed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 large eggs - room temperature
- ½ cup buttermilk
- reduced apple cider syrup (see above)
- 1 tablespoon quality vanilla extract
Make the apple cider syrup
- In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, gently reduce the apple cider to about ¼ cup (4 tablespoons), about 30-40 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Make the cinnamon sugar
- Combine the sugar and cinnamon together. Set aside.
Make the apple cider donut balls
- In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
- Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, beat the sugar and butter until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time and beat until well mixed, about 2 minute. Add in the buttermilk, apple cider syrup and vanilla and beat on low speed until well mixed, about 2 minutes.
- Continue beating on low speed, and add in the flour mixture in 3 additions. Beat until the dough comes together. If you lightly poke the dough, the dough should hold an indent, but it will be sticky. If it is too sticky to handle, add more flour about 2 tablespoons at a time.
- Place the bowl in the freezer until the dough stiffens, about 20 minutes.
- In a deep fryer, heat the oil to 350°F/180°C. Using a 2 tablespoon cookie scoop, make as many donut balls as you can fit in your deep fryer (I made 4 at a time), and set them on a small piece of parchment paper. Using your fingers, smooth out any rough edges of the dough.
- Carefully add the donut balls to the oil, and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute. Turn the donut balls over and fry until the other side is golden, about 1 minute. You may need to use a spatula to hold down the donut balls in the oil to get an even browning since they tend to bounce around and rotate on their own. Once the donuts are fried, transfer them to a paper towel and drain. Allow to cool slightly.
- In the meantime, prepare and put the next batch of donuts into the fryer.
- As the next batch is in the deep fryer, toss the fried donuts in the bowl of cinnamon sugar and serve immediately.
- Repeat with remaining dough.