I was pretty late to the air fryer game. We don't eat many fried foods at home (both for health and wellness reasons but also because I hate dealing with used frying oil), and I'm not a fan of appliances with limited usability. But then our toaster died. In researching what to replace it with, I kept coming across appliances that looked more like countertop ovens than the drawer-style air fryers I had seen in the past. This is when I learned that air fryers are really just tiny convection ovens that circulate hot air really rapidly in order to encourage the maillard (browning) reaction in food with minimal (if any) oil involved. In other words, the term "air fryer" is pretty much just a marketing tactic. Ok, so what does this have to do with toasters, you ask? Well, I figured if I could find one of these oven-style appliances that could also function as our toaster, then I could justify the air fryer part of the purchase. Boom. Two birds, one stone.
After much research, I settled on the Instant Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer Oven, partly because it was on sale on Prime Day, partly because it gets overall good reviews, and partly because I was obsessed with the idea of the rotisserie feature.... but never mind that for now. We're talking about donuts. (By the way, this is not an ad. I'm not an Amazon Affiliate, and I don't get paid by Instant.) I've made a couple of different styles of donuts at this point, but the recipe that follows is BY FAR my favorite so far. I bought these cute little silicone donut/bagel molds instead of a metal donut pan because they allow me to bake more donuts/bagels at once, and I think they'll be more versatile. That said, you can absolutely use a muffin tin if you don't have donut molds or a donut pan. Oh, and if you don't have an air fryer, it's ok. You can make these in a regular oven. They might not have quite the spring of the air fryer version, and they might take slightly longer to bake, but they'll still be delicious.
So, moving on to the donuts now that we've covered the appliances.... I don't generally have a sweet tooth. I will virtually always choose the cheese board over the chocolate cake for dessert, and donuts aren't something that I ever really crave, mostly because I think most donuts are just.... meh. These, I assure you, are anything but meh, especially when eaten still warm from the oven. They turn out moist and surprisingly springy and light, with a spiced sugar coating that just calls for finger licking or coffee dunking. But the best part is that they come together in less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Yep. No waiting for the dough to rise. No rolling and cutting. Just mix, bake, and enjoy.
Finally, this recipe calls for my Autumn Spice Blend, which is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, clove and cardamom, and is basically the spice blend equivalent of curling up on the couch with a blanket and a good book on a rainy Fall day.
Alright, let's make some donuts, shall we?
Air Fryer Autumn Spiced Apple Cider Donuts
Makes 12-18, depending on the size of donut molds/pans or muffin tins you use
Nonstick cooking spray (I like coconut, but vegetable is good too)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons Autumn Spice Blend
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup apple cider
Preheat air fryer to 325 F (350 F if using a regular oven). Spray donut molds/pans or muffin tin with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons Autumn Spice Blend. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 10 tablespoons (5 ounces) butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until well incorporated, scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla extract.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture until just incorporated. With the mixer running, add the apple cider in a slow, steady stream and mix to combine. Scrape the bowl well to make sure the batter is fully mixed.
Spoon the batter into a piping back (or large ziploc bag) and pipe into prepared molds/pans/tin, filling them about 2/3 of the way. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the thickest portion comes out clean, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the molds/pans/tin halfway through baking.
While the donuts bake, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and teaspoon of Autumn Spice Blend in a medium bowl. In a separate small bowl, melt the remaining butter. Let the donuts cool slightly before removing them from the molds/pans/tins. Brush the donuts with the melted butter and toss in the spiced sugar to coat. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature.