Food & Drink

Get your doughnut fix fast with no-rise batter packed with fall flavors

Apple cider, nutmeg and mace flavor the batter for these giant doughnut holes, which fry up with a thick crust. A toss with cinnamon sugar finishes them off. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Apple cider, nutmeg and mace flavor the batter for these giant doughnut holes, which fry up with a thick crust. A toss with cinnamon sugar finishes them off. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Baking isn’t heavy lifting — unless you attempt a slab pie and the slab measures 21 by 15 inches. Then, it demands core strength.

You make this discovery after slicing 15 pounds of apples, rolling 6 pounds of pastry, grinding 2 pounds of crumble and sprinkling 1 pound of sugar. Grasping two corners of the pan, you tug. Hard. Muscling 24 pounds of pie into a hot oven, you learn, is easy — compared with getting it out.

The downside of the 21-inch wide, 400-degree slab pie strikes you — right at T7, mid-thoracic spine. Justin, the physical therapist you later engage, identifies the spot when he prods your back and declares: “Here?” Followed by: “What were you lifting again?”

Justin prescribes stretches and crunches, which you attempt to work, while he and his colleagues plan their weekend of hiking and apple picking, followed by apple-cider doughnuts. It occurs to you that doughnuts, too, feature fall’s best fruit. They’re quick, delicious — and extremely lightweight.

QUICK DOUGHNUTS

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 4 minutes per batch

Makes: 18-20 doughnut holes

These giant doughnut holes don’t require the rising, resting and shaping.

Doughnuts:

3 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 egg

1 cup apple cider

1 quart ghee (shelved near the oil) or canola oil

Topping:

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and mace. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, egg and cider. Pour wet ingredients over dry and mix with a wooden spoon just until a thick dough comes together.

Test: In a heavy pot at least 3 inches deep, heat 2 inches of ghee (or oil) to 350 degrees. Using a 1 1/2-inch diameter ice-cream scoop, scoop up a generous ball of dough and drop it in. Cook, 4 minutes. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Wait 1 minute. Cut in half. If done, you’re good to go. If not, add 1 minute cooking time to your next batch.

Fry: Scoop balls of dough into hot ghee (or oil), without crowding. Fry, rotating spheres now and then, until deep brown outside and cooked through inside (4 or 5 minutes, depending on your test doughnut). Repeat, frying all doughnuts.

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Shake: In a paper sack, shake together the sugar and cinnamon for the topping. Drop in doughnuts a few at a time, and shake to coat. Munch while warm.

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