Donut o’ the Month: Cranberry Cake Donuts w/ Whiskey Cider Glaze

As one who thrives on the adrenaline rush of working until the very last minute, I prefer the role of hostess in the production of Thanksgiving. This year, however, I feel like more of an understudy to an understudy. I’m not sure which part I’ll be playing, where I’ll be performing or what I’ll be eating. I’ve been in such a frenzy of projects, Thanksgiving had been hiding in the shadows of deadlines and it very quickly snuck up on me. Despite my lack of plans, I couldn’t let the Donut o’ the Month series pass November without a nod to the month’s star holiday.

Cranberry Donuts 01

In brainstorming a November donut, my imagination painted an ideal portrait of me as a Thanksgiving hostess. Imaginary Quelcy had already planned and purchased the groceries, safely avoiding the point when riots erupt over the last bag of rolls. On Thanksgiving Eve, she set the table, fussing over each detail until it was just right. She had dough rising and desserts lining the kitchen table. She stocked the refrigerator with prepped dishes, so everything was ready for the oven on Thanksgiving day.

Cranberry Donuts 05

Come Thanksgiving morning, calm, cool, collected Quelcy would wake up, walk little Julep, and bask in the lingering fall colors. Returning to her fragrant kitchen, she would brew plenty of coffee, eat a donut and have a moment — a delicious, tranquil, Thanksgiving moment.

Cranberry Donuts 02

This ideal Quelcy is a long shot indeed. However, I am aiming to have a few calm mornings with delicious moments — this November donut to the rescue! This recipe draws inspiration from Thanksgiving’s cranberry sauce tradition, fall herb accents, mugs of hot cider, and the shot of whiskey you need when dad digresses into politics at the dinner table.

Happy November!

Whole Wheat Cranberry Cake Donuts with Whiskey Cider Glaze

makes about 12-15 standard sized donuts

  • 4 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2/3 cup raw cane sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest (~2 lemons)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1 cup organic whole milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten (organic/cage-free)
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (8 Tbs) organic, unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 cups fresh cranberries
  • Organic Non-GMO Safflower Oil for frying (about 1 quart)

Cider Whiskey Glaze

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, spices, salt, lemon zest and sage, whisking to combine. In another bowl, combine egg, milk and vanilla extract, mixing together. Add melted butter to the dry ingredients, quickly stirring to disperse the butter and form small crumbs. Stir in milk and egg mixture, bring the dough together with a spoon. Before the dough comes completely together, add in cranberries, mashing some as you stir, and bring dough together with your hands. Form dough into a large ball, then roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut donuts using a biscuit cutter. Use a smaller cutter to create the donut hole. Repeat with dough scraps until all the dough is used. Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer, bringing it to 375 degrees. Fry donuts 1-2 at a time, frying for about 1 1/2-2 minutes per side. After your first donut, check it by cutting into the center and making sure the dough is cooked through. Finish remaining donuts, transferring to a cooling rack as you work. Once all the donuts are made, make the glaze.

For the Glaze
Whisk ingredients together until a smooth glaze forms. If the glaze is too thin, add sugar a few tablespoons at a time, while whisking. if the glaze is too thick, add more water by one very small drop at a time, whisking constantly. Dip donuts in the glaze and set aside for the glaze to harden slightly. Note: You may need to make a second batch depending on the size of your donuts and your glaze preferences.

Serve tranquilly with a mug of coffee and enjoy thoroughly!

photography & recipe by With The Grains for Jojotastic