With the end of summer comes the switch from pink and yellow peaches and garnet plums to apples in all their speckled and mottled varieties—gold and grassy green, blush pink and siren red lipstick. The wooden crates at the market stalls are overflowing with tart and crisp apples perfect for lattice-top pies and sweet little crab apples that look almost too precious to eat. But more often than not, I don't buy any apples. I head straight for the $1.00 cup of steaming cider and a cellophane baggie of apple cider doughnuts.
Tiny and chubby with a wrinkled belly button, the cakey doughnuts are covered in granulated sugar and a touch of cinnamon. They're irresistibly soft and I usually eat all but one, saving it for pre-bedtime snack when I'm tucked under blankets as the chill autumn wind seeps through a cracked window.
Since the doughnuts are so cake-like by nature, it was easy to turn them into an actual cake. This is a buttery cake, coated in the requisite cinnamon-sugar. Mace, the cobwebby exterior of nutmeg, is a must in this recipe as it adds that unmistakable doughnut flavor to the cake. There is no cinnamon in this cake other than in the coating because I find that it overwhelms the cake in general and the apple taste in particular. And now that we're on the subject, even though I love those farmers' market doughnuts, they're often wanting in apple cider flavor. Here, a tart apple is cooked in apple cider and then reduced to concentrate the flavor and make the cake live up to its name. How do you like them apples?