Apple cider is the perfect base for these baked gluten free donuts. It may just be THE donut of fall with classic apple flavors baked inside and then coated in cinnamon and sugar on the outside for a sweet crunchy finish. Baked donuts are quite simple to make, and with the right gluten free recipe they will even taste good! These donuts are light and fluffy, not dense like most gluten free baked donuts.
Why do we love donuts so much?
Do you know what the most popular recipe on this site is? It is hands down gluten free apple fritters. I often wonder why. Is it what people eating gluten free miss the most? Are gluten free donuts hard to find freshly baked? Considering yeast donuts take more time and effort, I'm surprised to see it so popular. Regardless of the reasons, I love that so many people are finding joy and success with this recipe!
I think it goes to show something...when we need to eat gluten free, we often miss the things that come fresh (and I'm not talking about fruits or veggies). We can't pop in our local bakery and purchase a hot donut for a dollar. So we gather our recipes and ingredients and set forth to bake the things we love and miss.
Is it fair to say donuts rank pretty high on your list of foods you miss the most after going gluten free? I know they do on mine. There is something so yummy about a freshly baked donut, whether it's a cake or yeasted donut, coated in sugar, chocolate or frosting, sprinkled or topped with bacon. Donuts are simply delicious. So is this recipe for baked gluten free apple cider donuts. It is so light and fluffy and filled with fall flavors of apple cider.
The great balance between liquid vs. flour
Gluten free baking is a constant liquid balance. Too much and your baked goods are gummy and untamable. Too little and your baked goods are dense and hard to swallow. Finding the correct balance can often be tricky, time consuming, and super frustrating. Can anyone relate?
I find that most gluten free baked goods lean toward being too dense. It's easy to understand why! When the batter looks and feels similar to something containing gluten you think the final product will turn out ok. If you're trying to substitute gluten free flour for wheat flour in a recipe you often exchange everything one-for-one, which results in a dense gluten free baked good almost every time.
My fellow gluten free eaters, there is hope! We do NOT have to settle for reaching for a drink every time we eat a gluten free baked good to wash it down.
I was reminded of the compromises we make to enjoy a gluten free treat the first time I took a bite into these donuts. Not because they were dense and hard to swallow. But because they were light and fluffy. It was like biting into a pillow of pure apple cider deliciousness coated in cinnamon and sugar. And I've made them a few times just to prove it right.
Do I need a special donut pan?
I get it. Not everyone has the space or the margin to store a pan that specializes in one thing. However, if you have any desire to bake donuts at least a few times a year, this might be a good investment for you. A donut pan typically has a shallow 'O' indentation to pour the batter in. It simplifies baking donuts into the classic shape allowing your donuts to look like something you might purchase at a store. One great feature of a donut pan is its thin profile, making them smaller to store than say a muffin pan. I use these Wilton Donut Pans and have for a few years. They do a nice job of baking a standard-sized donut.
One quick note on filling the pan - fill each donut cavity almost up to the top with batter. If you fill it to the top, or over, you will lose the center hole.
A great alternative would be to use a muffin pan. Fill the cup about ½ full and check your bake time, as it may take a few minutes longer due to the different shape and size of the cake. The top will be slightly golden brown. When you gently press on top it will be sponge-like. You won't have the classic donut shape, but you will have something just as delicious.
How to properly coat your apple cider donuts in cinnamon and sugar
While it may seem silly to have this discussion, I can assure you I messed it up the first go-round. I dipped the entire donut in butter and then pressed it into the cinnamon sugar mixture, which created a super dense coating of butter, cinnamon and sugar. It used a full cup of sugar and a full ½ cup of butter. Not bad if you want a crunchy, fat and sugar-laden donut!
Let's talk about a better way that uses half the sugar and half the butter!
This is where your pastry brush comes in handy. If you don't have one, use a clean soft-bristled brush (or whatever you use to slather your garlic bread). Gently brush your donut with melted butter and then press the donut into the cinnamon and sugar. It lightly coats the donut, allowing you to enjoy the delicious gluten free apple cider baked goodness inside.
Need a good apple cider recipe?
Just As Good Gluten Free has you covered. It turns out spicing your own apple cider is incredible easy and super delicious to make on your own. It's also the liquid base in these baked gluten free apple cider donuts.
If you choose to not make your own, purchase an apple cider that is already spiced. I often find them in the produce section during the fall season.
What kind of gluten free flour blend to use
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Baked Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts
- 1 ½ cups (225 grams) gluten free flour blend
- 1 ½ teaspoon guar or xanthan gum (omit if in blend)
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
- ⅔ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup apple cider
Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
- 4 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
- ½ cup white granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare a donut baking pan by lightly spraying with cooking spray. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine gluten free flour, guar or xanthan gum (do not use if in blend), baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- In another small bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla until eggs are completely combined. Add apple cider and stir. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until flour is combined and most lumps are gone. Your batter should be similar to the consistency of cake batter, semi-runny.
- Using a spoon, carefully pour batter into each donut cavity, filling to almost the top. Bake for 13-15 minutes, the tops will be slightly golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing from the pan. Once removed, place on a cooling rack. Allow the donuts to cool slightly before topping.
Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
- In a small bowl (large enough to fit the donut), combine cinnamon and sugar.
- Using a pastry brush, brush melted butter on a donut. Then dip the donut in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set aside and and repeat this process with remaining donuts.