Gluten Free Apple Cider Baked Donuts

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Homemade Gluten Free Apple Cider Baked Donuts are the perfect mix of soft and dense donuts with robust apple and spice flavor.  This is an no mixer required small batch recipe that uses reduced apple cider for a punch of apple flavor and makes 6 baked donuts coated in cinnamon sugar.

Gluten Free Apple Cider Baked Donuts

Confession time.  It has taken me two seasons to perfect a small batch apple cider donut recipe.  And to make it even harder this season, I had to go ahead and try to make the recipe gluten free.  But have no fear.  This recipe for Gluten Free Apple Cider Baked Donuts is a keeper!

Here is what you can expect with this apple cider donut recipe:

  1. Great Texture – Some baked donuts could be mistaken for a muffin or cupcake.  And that is not bad.  However, I was on a quest to find a texture that was a cross between a fried old fashioned donut and baked cake donut – and I think I found it!  These donuts are soft, yet dense, and can even double as a delicious dunker for your cup of coffee, tea, or hot cider!
  2. Apple Cider Flavor – There is no shortage of apple cider flavor in these donuts.  Reduced apple cider, applesauce, and freeze-dried apples contribute to the apple flavor.  Together with the spice blend of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and allspice bring out the spice.
  3. Easy – The ingredient list may seem long (thanks to making our own blends of flour and spices!), but the donuts are easy to make.   You will however, need to set aside time to reduce the apple cider to a syrup.
  4. Retain Their Flavor and Texture – No day old donuts here!  These Apple Cider Donuts stay soft and full of flavor days after baking.  Besides, it is a small batch recipe as well so there shouldn’t be too many leftovers past day two!

Almond Flour Blend

This recipe for Gluten Free Apple Cider Baked Donuts uses an almond flour blend – otherwise known as a paleo flour blend.  I am partial to the almond flour blend over a 1:1 gluten free flour for a few reasons (these are my opinions, and if you have a good 1:1 gluten free flour, send it my way!):

  • Moist – Bakes made with almond flour bake moist and will even stay moist longer than wheat flour bakes.  With this, the other flours in the blend will compensate for the added moisture.  I find 1:1 gluten free flour to dry out bakes.
  • Texture – Make no mistake, almond flour does have a texture.  However, when combined with the other flours in the blend, it is almost undetectable.  Additionally, I find this almond flour blend closely resembles the texture of wheat flour.  I find 1:1 gluten free flour to have a gritty texture.
  • Taste – I have yet to come across a 1:1 gluten free flour blend that doesn’t leave an aftertaste.  The almond flour blend allows the flavor driving ingredients to shine.

Paleo/Almond Flour Blend

  • Blanched Almond Flour
    • The base in the flour blend.  Almond flour produces a light and fluffy cake-like bake.  Which makes it a great option for cakes, cupcakes, muffins, and even gluten free cookies.  I will always recommend a blanched, super-fine almond flour.  This means the flour is ground as fine as it can be (before turning into butter), and the skins are removed.
  • Arrowroot Starch/Flour
    • Flour and starch are used interchangeably in the package titles.  Arrowroot aids in the tender texture we like in baked goods.  It also adds structure to the crumb.  
  • Coconut Flour
    • Ground from dried coconut meat, coconut flour is super absorbent.  It should be blended with other flours as it does not work well as a 1:1 swap.  Its absorbency allows swapping granulated sugar for liquid sweeteners –  like maple syrup or honey.  I also find it counter-balances other wet ingredients in the recipe.
  • Tapioca Starch/Flour
    • Another where flour and starch are used interchangeably in package titles.  Tapioca adds a little more chew to the baked good – where normally we’d get that from gluten in all-purpose flour.  And I have found in baked goods, it gives a ‘crisp’ exterior.
Freshly baked apple cider donuts on cutting board

What You Need To Make Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts

Ingredients

  • Apple Cider – The apple cider is cooked and reduced to a thicker and richer juice.  I recommend apple cider over apple juice because apple cider is a more pure form of juice.  However, apple juice can work and I would use an unfiltered apple juice.    
  • Almond Flour – Use blanched super fine almond flour.  I have provided a link in the recipe.
  • Arrowroot Flour – You may see Arrowroot Flour and Arrowroot Starch.  They are the same thing and I have linked the brand I use in the recipe.
  • Coconut Flour
  • Tapioca Flour – Similar to arrowroot flour, you will see Tapioca Flour and Tapioca Starch – they are the same thing.
  • Baking Powder – To keep the recipe 100 percent gluten free, check the ingredients on your baking powder to make sure there are no gluten starches used.   I recommend Bob’s Red Mill Baking Powder.
  • Ground Cinnamon, Cardamom, Nutmeg, and Allspice – These ground spices are what you may find in Apple Pie Spice.  Feel free to swap 1 teaspoon if you have it on hand!
  • Salt
  • Freeze Dried Apples – The freeze dried apples are ground to powder and punch up the apple flavor in the donuts.  This ingredient is completely optional.
  • Egg
  • Brown  Sugar – I recommend light brown sugar because it has less moisture than dark brown sugar.  
  • Granulated Sugar
  • Unsweetened Applesauce – The applesauce adds extra apple flavor and replaces any butter or oil that would typically be used in the recipe.
  • Milk – Any milk fat will work.  I have even used non-dairy coconut milk.
  • Unsalted Butter – The butter is melted then coats the baked donuts so the cinnamon sugar stick to the donuts. 
  • Cinnamon Sugar – This is the topping I used in this recipe.  Though feel free to experiment with a glaze or streusel topping!

Baking Equipment

  • Donut Pan – I use a 6 cup donut pan.
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Paper Bag – This is optional, but a fun trick!  I use a paper bag to get the donuts covered in cinnamon sugar.  I find it is easier and coats the donuts better than dipping in a bowl of cinnamon sugar.

Tips For Making Gluten Free Baked Apple Cider Donuts

Apple Flavor Tips

  • Use apple ciderWhat actually is the difference between apple cider and apple juice?  Apple cider – not to be confused with hard (alcohol) cider – is the liquid extracted from the apples and it is unfiltered, unsweetened, unpasteurized, and seasonal.  Which is why you typically only see it during apple harvest season.  Whereas apple juice has been filtered, pasteurized, sometimes sweetened, and may have water added.
  • Reduce the apple cider – Apple cider is pure apple flavor, and when it is reduced, the flavor is intensified.  It does take some time to reduce the apple cider, but trust me, it is worth it!
  • Try the freeze-dried apples – I don’t know about you, but I have had apple cider donuts that just taste like spice donuts.  For extra apple punch, the freeze-dried apple powder provides another ingredient with an intense apple flavor.

Prep Tips

  • Room temperature ingredients – It is always best to bring the refrigerated ingredients to room temperature – the milk, applesauce, and egg – because it makes mixing and baking the ingredients evenly a whole lot easier.  There are exceptions to the is rule – for example Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits – when you want everything to be cold to get lots of flaky layers!
  • Use light brown sugar – I have tested the donut recipe with dark brown sugar and I found it added too much moisture to the donuts.  Light brown sugar will still add a faint hint of molasses flavor, along with sweetness.
  • Unsweetened applesauce is best – We are adding our own sugar, so there is no need to add unnecessary sweetness.  Plus, sweetened applesauce may overpower the other flavors in the donuts.
  • Any kind of milk works – The milk is used for needed moisture and texture and I have found that any milk fat, or even dairy-free milk – will work.
  • Use a paper bag to coat the donuts – If it works to get the perfect coating on fried chicken, it can work to get cinnamon sugar on donuts!  Shaking (gently) the donuts in a paper bag with the cinnamon sugar ensures a full, even coating!
  • Cool completely before devouring – I find that gluten free bakes taste MUCH better when they have cooled completely.  
A small tray of gluten free apple cider donuts

Common Questions For Making Gluten Free Apple Cider Donuts

Can this donut recipe be doubled?

I have not tested larger batch and can’t say for certain how the donuts would turn out. If you try it, let me know!

Will a 1:1 gluten free flour work instead of the almond flour blend?

It may. However, my experience with using 1:1 gluten free flour is my bakes come out dry.

Can I used apple juice instead of apple cider?

You can and I would recommend an unfiltered apple juice to get good apple flavor.

Do I have to cook down the apple cider?

I recommend it so you get a pronounced apple cider flavor. Otherwise, the apple flavor may just bake out if you don’t reduce the cider.

Can I use butter or oil instead of the applesauce?

I have tested this and the donuts came out flat and greasy. I would stick with the applesauce.

Are the freeze dried apples necessary?

You can certainly omit them if you prefer. The dried apple powder adds even more apple flavor.

Is there another way to coat the donuts with the cinnamon sugar?

Of course! You can just sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the top of the donuts, or put the cinnamon sugar in a bowl and swirl the donuts around. Keep in mind, you may find you need more cinnamon sugar with these methods.

Is the melted butter necessary to brush on the baked donuts?

If you want to ensure the cinnamon sugar sticks to the donuts, I would use the melted butter. Otherwise, you can try to coat the donuts when they are fresh from the oven.

How should I store leftover donuts?

The donuts will keep for about 3 days covered at room temperature.

Apple cider donuts in a stack

More Small Batch Donut Recipes

Small batch of cinnamon sugar fall donuts arranged on a plate
Freshly baked apple cider donuts on cutting board
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Gluten Free Apple Cider Baked Donuts

Yield: 6 Donuts
Homemade Gluten Free Apple Cider Baked Donuts are the perfect mix of soft and dense donuts with robust apple and spice flavor.  This is an no mixer required small batch recipe that uses reduced apple cider for a punch of apple flavor and makes 6 baked donuts coated in cinnamon sugar.
Prep45 mins
Cook15 mins
Total1 hr
High Altitude Adjustment: May not require full bake time. Start checking for doneness at minimum bake time if noted.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup apple cider - heated and reduced to 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot starch/flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca starch/flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freeze dried apples, ground to powder
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons milk, any kind
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar

Instructions

  • Reduce the Apple Cider – In a medium saucepan, add the apple cider (and a cinnamon stick if you like) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and heat until the cider has reduced to a 1/4 cup. This may take 20 to 30 minutes. Let the reduced apple cider cool to room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Lightly grease a 6 cup donut pan.
  • In a food processor, blender, or spice grinder, add roughly a small handful of freeze-dried apples. Pulse to a fine powder. Note – We need 1 tablespoon of powder for the donuts. If you have extra powder, you can add it to the cinnamon sugar to coat the baked donuts!
  • In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond flour, arrowroot flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking powder, spices, salt, and freeze-dried apple powder.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg. Then add the brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix to combine. Add the applesauce, milk, and cooled apple cider and mix to combine.
  • Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and whisk until no dry streaks remain. Spoon equal portions of batter into the prepared donut pan. Tip – Use a cookie scoop to make portioning the the batter easier and cleaner.
  • Bake the donuts for 15 to 17 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, and the donuts start to pull away from the sides of the donut cups. Let the donuts cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes.
  • While the donuts are cooling, melt the butter. Add the cinnamon sugar to a small paper bag or Ziploc bag.
  • While the donuts are still warm – Working with one donut at a time, use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter all around the donut. Drop the donut into the bag with the cinnamon sugar and gently swirl it around to thoroughly coat. Repeat for the remaining donuts. Tip – If using a paper bag to coat the donuts with the cinnamon sugar, swirl over the sink as the cinnamon sugar may sneak out of the bottom of the bag.
  • Allow the donuts to cool completely, and Enjoy!
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin | Butter and Bliss
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