Cider Donut Muffins

Sep 16, 2020

Besides the iconic wild blueberry, Maine apples are one of my favorite year-round fruits. An important crop for the early Colonial settlers, apples were a vital part of homesteading life and used in numerous ways including as a beverage (hard and sweet cider), for animal feed, in baking, cooking and dried, and as a sweetener.

Apple cider syrup or apple molasses was once a kitchen staple, in particular during the Revolutionary War times, as molasses and sugar were imported from British plantations in the West Indies. Much like maple syrup, apple cider syrup is made by boiling down apple cider until it thickens to a syrup consistency; about 1/7 the volume. The product has a long shelf life and was a nutritious way for folks to sweeten and flavor foods. Depending upon the harvest, the apple syrup flavor would vary in complexity and taste, just like a fine wine.

Thanks to our early ancestors and dedicated heritage apple saviors, we can still enjoy the subtle flavors, textures and aromas of dozens of varieties of America’s favorite fruit. Apple picking is a favorite family activity, and the good times are easily continued in the kitchen. Learning to peel and core an apple is an invaluable skill, appropriate for kindergarten–age and older folks. Knife knowledge is the foundation of becoming a chef, and often the difference between loving or hating to cook.

The recipe for Cider Donut Muffins reminds of the donuts our family used to enjoy every fall when we visited Maine orchards and cider houses. The cake-like texture of the batter comes from creaming the butter and sugar, while the flavor comes from boiling down apple cider to make light syrup. Rolling the muffins in butter and then a spiced sugar mixture makes for a delicious, melt-in-your mouth creation.


Cheryl Wixson


For the muffins:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ cup butter at room temperature
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup apple cider syrup
  • ¼ cup yogurt buttermilk, or sour cream

For the topping:

  • 3 tablespoon Melted butter
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg


  • Assemble ingredients and tools. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a 12- cup muffin tin.
  • Prepare the cider syrup: in a small saucepan, bring ½ cup cider to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and simmer until boiled down to ¼ cup. Set aside.
  • In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together the butter, brown and white sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Set aside.
  • Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, vanilla extract, and cider syrup.
  • Gently fold the flour mixture into the creamed butter and sugar, alternating with the yogurt mixture.
  • Stir until just combined.
  • Spoon into prepared muffin cups.
  • Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  • While the muffins are baking, prepare the topping. Melt the butter, pour into a shallow plate and cool slightly. Mix together the sugar and spices and pour into a shallow bowl.
  • Once the muffins are baked, allow to cool for five minutes in the pan.
  • Remove from pan; roll each muffin in the melted butter.
  • Then roll the muffin in the sugar-spice mixture.
  • Enjoy!

Cheryl's Notes

Nutritional analysis per muffin: 288 calories, 3 grams protein, 43 grams carbohydrates, 11 grams fat, 55 mg. sodium, 1 gram fiber

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