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Celebrate National Pumpkin Day with a twist on the apple cider doughnut

By Ricky Webster For The Spokesman-Review

Today is National Pumpkin Day, so I wanted to do a pumpkin recipe for this week’s column.

A couple weekends ago, I spent the day up at Hidden Acres Orchard on Green Bluff. The cider press was going, everyone was dressed in their fall best (even though it was approaching 80 degrees), pumpkins were in tow, and the fall harvest was at its finest. It was such a beautiful day, thanks to this long-extended heat we’ve had, and I was inspired to celebrate the surroundings.

Now, I’ve always loved an apple cider doughnut, but that’s not necessarily Spokane culture. Here, it’s all about the pumpkin doughnut. Hidden Acres used to do an apple cider doughnut with the abundance of apples and cider they always have flowing, especially during this season. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough demand to keep making them, and people made it clear that pumpkin doughnuts were what they wanted. This year, Hidden Acres made the switch to pumpkin. I was surprised to hear this, and although I did enjoy a pumpkin doughnut, I miss the cider ones.

Cider doughnuts originated in the New England area, as apple orchards span from Rhode Island to Maine. Although it’s likely the doughnut was around prior, it was in October 1951 that the Doughnut Corporation of America announced a new spiced twist on the classic buttermilk doughnut. The apple cider doughnut was indeed advertised to help increase doughnut sales during the fall months, but it proved to have staying power. Now mostly appearing at apple orchards during the fall months around the country, this doughnut absolutely paved the way for what we crave and celebrate here in Spokane, the pumpkin doughnut.

I got to thinking: Why not mash up these two delicious and complementary flavors? And here we are. Today I bring to you the cider pumpkin doughnut, only in snack cake form. A snack cake is far less work and mess to make than a doughnut, and I think scratches the doughnut craving itch, especially if you can’t make it up to Green Bluff in the coming week. This is an easy recipe that comes together quickly, and all done by hand with a whisk and a couple bowls. I have chosen to make this dairy free, as the moisture from the pumpkin and olive oil help to impart the tenderness and richness that dairy usually does.

I hope you and your family enjoy this cake throughout the season. I suggest doubling the batch, as after a couple slices, you’ll soon realize it’s going far too quickly and even before it’s had the chance to fully cool.

Cider Pumpkin

Doughnut Snack Cake

Cake:

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 cup apple cider

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing on to cake.

1/3 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs, room temperature

Sugar topping:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees with the rack placed in the middle part of the oven.

Grease and flour (or coat with nonstick cooking spray) a standard sized loaf pan (metal or aluminum preferred).

Whisk together the flours, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk sugars, cider, oil, pumpkin puree, vanilla and eggs, until combined and sugar begins to dissolve.

Whisk dry ingredients into wet ingredients just until evenly combined. Make sure you do not overmix as you want the snack cake to be tender.

Pour batter into prepared pan and place directly into the oven.

Bake, making sure to rotate halfway through baking time, for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Let cool for 20 minutes or so until you can handle the pan and flip out onto a cooling rack.

Combine sugar topping ingredients in a small bowl.

Brush olive oil onto the warm cake and immediately sprinkle the cake with sugar mixture. You can also use melted butter to do this, but I’ve chosen to keep this recipe dairy free.

Let the cake cool completely before slicing into. Trust me, you may not make it until it cools completely, and I promise I won’t judge … I didn’t make it either.

Yield: 4-8 servings

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