These delightful puffs are baked, not fried in the traditional way, and taste like a hybrid between spice cake and a muffin, with a light, crisp coating of cinnamon sugar. Kids enjoy rolling them in the butter and cinnamon sugar, then dunking them in a mug of warm apple cider. The hint of orange zest combined with the other fragrant spices gives this doughnut a tasty twist on an old-time Vermont favorite.
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- pinch ground cloves
- pinch ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
- 1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make the puffs:
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Grease and lightly flour a 12-cup muffin tin or line it with paper muffin cups.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until browned and nutty smelling. Be careful not to let it burn—as soon as you see it browning, take it off the heat and stir for another minute to cool slightly.
- Transfer the melted butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, and the sugar, and beat on a medium speed.
- Add the egg and continue beating until all are blended together.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and orange zest.
- With the mixer on medium speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, until blended. Take care not to overbeat.
- Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups and bake for 25 minutes, until golden brown.
Make the topping:
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and remove from heat.
- In a small bowl (or brown paper lunch bag) combine the sugar and cinnamon.
- When the puffs come out of the over, use a knife to gently remove them from the muffin tin, and one-by-one, dip each puff in the melted butter, then roll it in the cinnamon sugar (or drop it into the paper bag, fold over the top, and shake lightly).
- Transfer to a serving platter, and serve warm.