for the love of cider donuts

white box of cider donuts and cup of cider on wood background

Note from Annette: There’s lots of changes happening here at Wander, Eat & Tell! So many that I’m at least 6 months behind on blogging the Cookbook Club, and anything else, really! So here’s a little treat. I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking and talking about apples, cider, and all the other apple-season deliciousness. Just in case it takes me a bit longer to catch up on the ALL NEW Cookbook Club, at least you’ll have this little something to nibble on.

honoring the ancestors

One of the ancestors of the donut (or doughnut) arrived in New Netherland (now the Hudson Valley) with Dutch settlers in the early 1600s. Dutch oliebollen are bits of sweet fried batter. When the settlers arrived, they brought their waffle irons, cast iron pans, and fryers with them. Along with grains, orchard fruits, and a love of sweets that they shared with their native neighbors.

photo: Aelbert Cuyp, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

why is there cider in there?

Even though the “technology” and the ingredients both existed, it would be nearly hundreds of years before people mixed cider into their dough for frying. Fermented liquids (usually beer) often found their way into doughs for their natural leavening properties, and because they create a more moist and tender crumb. It makes sense that in any place where apples were plentiful, cider would take the place of beer. 

a Halloween treat for the ages

One of the first published mentions of cider doughnuts was in the Buffalo Enquirer in 1901 where they were noted as a sweet commonly served at Halloween. And anyone who lives in any “apple country” knows that a visit to a farm stand for warm cider donuts and hot cider is an essential right of passage or it’s not really autumn!

invention is the mother of invention

Interestingly, the official introduction of the Sweet Cider Donut is attributed to the invention of the automatic donut fryer and the automobile!

In 1921, Adolph Levitt invented the automatic donut fryer in his bakery in Harlem NY. Around the same time, automobiles – and taking regional road trips – were growing in popularity. 

photo: The Doughnut Machine. Courtesy University of Southern California archive.

As more people found reasons to make weekend visits to the farmlands outside the city, more farm stands began offering treats to reward them for their efforts. Of course, there’s more to it…

learn more

If you’d like to read a great article about the history of the Cider Donut, my favorite was on NPR… ​Find it HERE​.

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