Fall is coming, whether you like it or not. There’s nothing technically wrong with fall. It’s honestly warmer than most of spring and I know I appreciate an end to the constant sweat-wiping that comes with having a body in a New York City summer. But there’s no denying that a coming fall means the impending doom of winter is near, and I imagine many of you are with me in feeling a bit meh. It’s in these moments (meh-ments?) that I deploy applesauce doughnuts.
Unlike cider doughnuts—the best versions of which can only be found by driving two hours to an apple farm or by elbowing chic vegetarians to get to the front of the line at the farmers' market—applesauce doughnuts are made in your own kitchen, where you don’t have to put on a sweater, let alone pants. Applesauce doughnuts are also technically drop doughnuts, which means you literally just drop pinches of dough into hot oil and let them hang for a few minutes.
Let’s do this. Whisk together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, 3 teaspoons powdered buttermilk, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon cloves in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Toss ¼ cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup light brown sugar in a large bowl along with 3 tablespoons softened butter. Whisk the mixture until light and fluffy, then add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 eggs, cracking them in and blending 1 egg at a time. Stir in ¾ cup applesauce (use a no-added sugar version if you can find one, it will be plenty sweet) and 3 tablespoons water.
Slowly fold the flour mixture into the applesauce mixture until just combined.
Heat about 4 inches grapeseed or canola oil in a large stockpot. While the oil is heating, mix together ¼ cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside. When the oil reaches 375ºF, you’re ready to make the doughnuts.
Scoop up tablespoons of the dough and use a spoon (or your finger) to slide the dough into the oil, then repeat with another 3 or 4 doughnuts. Don’t crowd the pan, this could lead to doughnuts sticking together. Let the doughnuts brown for a minute or two, then flip them over with a slotted spoon and cook for another minute or two.
Fish the doughnuts out with a slotted spoon onto a paper towel, then continue frying more tablespoons of dough. After the finished doughnuts have cooled slightly, toll them in the prepared cinnamon sugar.