Desserts/ Eat & Watch/ Film/ Food

Apple Cider Doughnuts & The Cider House Rules

It has been a long time since I made doughnuts, or even deep fried something, for that matter. I hated deep frying before I went to culinary school, but once I had to do it so many times while in class, I’ve since gotten over my fear of hot oil. And after I made these doughnuts, I finally realized that it’s actually quite easy to do at home.

These doughnuts were also worth the effort of deep frying. They are an Apple Cider Doughnut with Homemade Apple Butter…and let me tell you, apple butter in doughnuts is the way to go. They make the doughnut moist and give it an extra layer of that autumn flavor that can be difficult to capture in doughnuts.

Dare I say that these doughnuts are even better than the ones you get when you go apple picking? I do dare. I couldn’t get enough of them. I am warning you now that when they are warm, be sure to limit yourself because if you’re not careful, you’ll end up eating them all yourself.

I had never tried apple butter until I made these doughnuts, and they are now a permanent fall recipe in my household. Apple butter is basically glorified applesauce with a lot more richness, and as I’ve mentioned before, they will give your doughnut depth in flavor. And as a bonus, they make the kitchen smell amazing.

Because these doughnuts are inspired by the season, apple picking, and apple cider, I paired them with The Cider House Rules. This movie is a heavy drama about an orphan, Homer Wells, who is raised by Dr. Wilbur Larch, who trains him to be his successor. Eventually, Homer leaves the orphanage to explore the world. He finds his new home on an apple orchard, and works with the seasonal workers to pick apples. There is a lot more drama involved, but you’ll have to watch the movie to really feel its impact.

A famous quote from this movie is spoken by Dr. Larch, who tells the children, “Goodnight you Princes of Maine, you Kings of New England!” every night before bed. This quote illustrates how the children are treated with love, and this quote is meant to encourage them.

The Cider House Rules and these Apple Cider Doughnuts are a perfect combination for a chilly autumn evening. This movie is sure to draw out a variety of emotions from you, and these doughnuts are a great source of comfort. And if you decide not to watch this movie, these doughnuts are the best way to celebrate fall. You won’t be disappointed.

If you like this recipe, you’ll like:

Coffee Cinnamon Buns

London Fog Cake

Blueberry Muffins

Apple Cider Doughnuts with Homemade Apple Butter inspired by 'The Cider House Rules'

  • Servings: 24 doughnuts + dozens of doughnut holes
  • Print

These Apple Cider Doughnuts are inspired by the film ‘The Cider House Rules.’


6 lbs. apples (any variety), cored, seeded, peeled, and chopped
6 cups apple cider
½ cup granulated sugar
6 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon salt


1. In a large pot, add the chopped apples, apple cider, sugar, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, and let the apples soften for about 2-2.5 hours.

2. Once the apples have softened, discard the cinnamon sticks and cloves.

3. Pass the mixture through a strain through a coarse-mesh sieve and press the mixture through it with a rubber spatula, or pass it through a food mill.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Transfer the apple mixture into a baking pan and bake until the mixture has reduced by half. Stir every 30 minutes or so. The mixture will become thicker and become a darker orange.


2 cinnamon sticks
3 cups apple cider
½ cup apple butter
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup butter, unsalted
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

Cinnamon Sugar Mixture
½ cup cinnamon
½ cup granulated sugar


1. Bring cinnamon sticks and apple cider to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Cook this liquid until it reduces to about 1/3 cup and is thick and syrupy (this will take a good 30 minutes).

2. Scrape the reduced liquid into a bowl and whisk in apple butter, heavy cream, and vanilla until well-combined. Set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon, and flour. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together on medium speed. Mix until well-combined and fluffy.

5. Add eggs, one at a time, into the sugar and butter mixture and blend well.

6. Add the dry flour mixture, alternating with the cider and apple butter mixture. The dough will be very sticky. Blend until well-combined.

7. Dust a sheet tray lined with parchment paper with flour. Scrape the dough onto the sheet tray. Dust your hands with flour (the dough is so sticky!) and pat the dough down until it is between 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Dust with even more flour and cover in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for about 2 hours, or overnight if you are making the dough a day ahead.

8. When you’re ready to fry the doughnuts, pour 3-4 inches of canola oil into a deep pot. Heat the oil up to 350°F (I recommend using a deep-frying thermometer for this). The oil should be hot enough so that the doughnuts cook quickly enough (when dough sits in oil for too long at a low heat, it absorbs the oil), but not too hot that the outside of the doughnut cooks before the inside can be thoroughly cooked through.

9. While the oil is heating, use a cookie cutter to punch out doughnut rounds. You can use any size you want (or any shape!). When using round cutters, have both a bigger and smaller round (so you can punch out the holes). Rework the extra dough and continue punching out the doughnuts.

10. Set up a cooling rack over a paper-towel lined sheet tray for when the doughnuts come out of the oil. Fry the doughnuts until they are a golden brown, frying only 2-3 doughnuts at a time. If you add too many into the oil, the temperature will drop and you’ll risk oil absorbing into the dough. Keep an eye on the doughnuts and flip once you see a golden-brown shade, roughly 2-3 minutes per side.

11. Using tongs or a spider, scoop the doughnuts out of the oil and onto the cooling rack to cool slightly.

12. Mix the cinnamon and sugar into a large bowl. Toss the warm doughnuts into the cinnamon sugar mixture, coating both sides. Enjoy while warm!

Discarding oil: Allow the oil to cool completely before discarding. When you’re ready to clean up, carefully pour the oil into a plastic or glass container, seal it with a lid (and tape it up), and discard in the garbage. Never pour your oil directly into the garbage or the sink.


Deep-frying thermometer
Rounds for cutting the doughnuts
Cooling Rack
Sheet Trays
Spider or tongs

© A Dash of Cinema


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