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Going Donut Picking

September 7, 2010

Going out to the orchards for apple picking is one of the harbingers of fall.  And no trip to the apple orchard would be complete without at least one apple cider donut rolled in sugar.

The Fussy family went to Indian Ladder Farms last weekend.  As the season progresses, the farm can really become quite a mob scene.  Maybe it was the fact the weather looked threatening, or that it was part of a holiday weekend, or that normal people don’t even consider picking apples when it’s summer.  But the orchards were wonderfully devoid of throbbing masses of humanity.

Inside the farm store was another matter.

The line for cider donuts was intense.  There was a dedicated line, just for people waiting on cider donuts.  And I stood patiently on a line that didn’t move for far too long.  And I would have stayed longer.  I would even have paid more than $5.95 per dozen, the paltry sum these treats command.

Because here is what I got…

Last year when I wrote about cider donuts I mentioned that they don’t have a crust.  I also mentioned that I didn’t have a ton of experience with the form, since this regional specialty is unknown in California, as far as I can tell.

A nice crisp crust on a donut is important to me, regardless of whether the donut is yeast raised or cake.  If I’m going to be taking the fat and calorie hit of a deep fried confection, I want to experience the unique benefits of this woefully sinful cooking technique.

But the batch I had this past weekend showed me how wrong I was.  It was just that I never had a good crust on a cider donut until now.  These were certainly the best examples of the form I have experienced since moving to the northeast.

Which raises the question, who has the best apple cider donuts?

StanfordSteph suggested that I conduct some kind of multi-orchard review.  And it’s such a crazy idea that it just might work.  But I would need to limit the playing field a bit, and only taste the sugar coated versions at a handful of places.  Really because the evaluation should happen in one day, and each donut needs to be tasted and graded immediately upon purchase.

Nominations for orchards already include Indian Ladder Farms, Golden Harvest Farms, and Bowman Orchards.

If you have any others, please let me know what they are and why you think their cider donuts are the best.  Is it the moistness, their deep cider flavor, the pungency of their spices, or maybe something about the crumb.  I am as interested in the reason you are nominating a donut as I am in the nomination itself.

So what do you say?

22 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2010 9:08 am

    Would you be buying them from the normal line, or asking each orchard to provide donuts fresh out of the grease? Because Cider Donuts are good… but hot they are even better. Generally the donuts are made fresh throughout the day, but they are left in the kitchen to cool slightly before brought out front (warm donuts put into a bag have too much moisture and get squishy).

    Also, would you be eating them immediately, or getting them from everyone and then tasting them next to each other?

    • September 7, 2010 10:44 pm

      I agree with Collin that the hotter the donut the better. But they need to be donuts that are available to everyone. So, channeling my beloved pushy Jewish grandmother, I will ask whoever is taking my order, “Do you have any that are hot?” And we’ll see what happens.

      Donuts will be consumed immediately on premise. While this prevents side to side comparisons, it both simulates more real life consumption and presents the best possible donut for evaluation. Hopefully a detailed scoring sheet and limited set of donuts to compare will help keep the evaluations consistent orchard to orchard.

  2. Annie permalink
    September 7, 2010 2:02 pm

    Yumm…. Altamont Orchards on Dunnsville Road in- Altamont, of course! Amazing donuts…

  3. JoJo permalink
    September 7, 2010 2:45 pm

    Goold’s Orchard in Schodack. Also, would this be a weekend test or weekday? The quality may vary…

  4. September 7, 2010 2:51 pm

    I live closest to Indian Ladder, it’s the place I went to most as a child, and so I tend to think those are the best. I haven’t had any yet this year, so I can’t remember why, but I think their donuts are somehow crispier, the sugar coating seems to be made of thicker bits than most, and ugh.

    My boyfriend however, loves Focastle Farms in Burnt Hills. I’m not as big a fan, but I’ve never met a donut I didn’t like at least a little bit, so I’m not sure what my authority is on this.

    I suspect that if you grew up in the area this is one of those foods that depends greatly on where you went most as a child. Like those cheesesteak wars, but you know. Cider donuts.

  5. Vicki permalink
    September 7, 2010 2:55 pm

    I am nominating Altamont Orchards. I love them, but they are also closest to my home and I can swing by and grab them up whenever I want – so that’s the thing – do I think they are great b/c they are so easily obtainable or do they really stand out in comparison to other orchards?

  6. AddiesDad permalink
    September 7, 2010 3:48 pm

    Saratoga Apple on Rte. 29 near Schuylerville.

  7. phairhead permalink
    September 7, 2010 8:41 pm

    Fo’ Castle Farms in Ballston Spa…..BEST.CIDER.DOUGHNUTS.EVER!

  8. September 7, 2010 8:52 pm

    I’ve never been, but I’m told there is an orchard in Ballston Lake called Lakeside Farms that is the best around:

  9. September 7, 2010 10:14 pm

    Hick’s up in Granville…but they’ve gotta be hot!

  10. September 7, 2010 10:23 pm

    There is no way any other orchard’s apple cider donuts could be as tasty as a fresh Indian Ladder Farms donut! I’ve had a few others including Yonder Farms and Ellms Farm and they really are good but Indian Ladder just makes the season.

  11. September 7, 2010 10:27 pm

    I grew up on the hill above Altamont Orchards, so it’s possible that my view is tainted by the warm fuzzy feelings of childhood memories, but I certainly have loved their apple cider donuts.

  12. Jenny on the Block permalink
    September 7, 2010 11:38 pm

    I love Indian Ladder Farms, but can also recommend the delicious Lakeside Donuts. Lakeside also has a great cafe and a good little market. Worth the road trip!

  13. breadchick permalink
    September 8, 2010 12:51 am

    I can nearly walk to Indian Ladder and love the whole “Wow, Sunday coffee, the NY Times, and get me some cider dos.” Already I’m getting some good eats, but it seems that last year they were heavy and overly browned. I’m assuming that there is a good season for the donut and and not so good. Like apples.

    I also thought I may offer my services for their cafe. Quiche? Me thinks not so want to eat.

  14. breadchick permalink
    September 8, 2010 12:52 am

    Yikes, to clarify — quiche yes. Just not theirs.

  15. September 8, 2010 8:01 am

    It’s a toss up between Lakeside Farms and Liberty Ridge Farm. The FUSSY family would probably like Liberty Ridge Farm’s corn maze and there are plenty of kid-friendly things to do there too. And the donuts are AWESOME!

  16. September 8, 2010 8:31 am

    Aren’t you claiming to be from Guilderland? A true Guilderlandian would not call anything that passed his lips “the best cider donut” if it did not come from Altamont Orchards.

  17. September 8, 2010 9:59 am

    I hope I don’t start a riot with this admission, but I really don’t like cider doughnuts all that much. I’ll eat about one a year and be happy. I have a friend who loves them, and she swears by Bowman Orchards in Rexford. As long as the doughnut isn’t overly greasy, and is coated in cinnamon/sugar, it meets my requirements.

    My mom is working at Liberty Ridge Farm in Schaghticoke this fall making the cider doughnuts, so maybe hers will be the best?

  18. Ellen Whitby permalink
    September 10, 2010 7:51 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with Kim. You should include donuts from Liberty Ridge Farms in your contest. My favorite part of Liberty Ridge is the corn maze but the donuts are a tasty bonus, as are the other activities going on there. If you’d like, I’d be happy to accompany you on your adventure. I’m sure the little Fussies would love it.

  19. September 14, 2010 6:29 pm

    Lakeside Farms in Burnt Hills, hands down (though it’s a bit of a pain to drive there and worse to park).

  20. Jean Patiky permalink
    September 27, 2010 9:38 am

    Wondering if as the day moved on that your later donut stops, the donuts were less “fresh” and had more time out away from the cooking source….what do you think? Also, were your taste buds satiated by the time you reach the third stop?

  21. kate permalink
    October 24, 2010 10:07 pm


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