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The Cider Donuts Left Behind

September 10, 2013

I’m doing a terrible job at separating myself from the Capital Region. What can I say, I’m a creature of habit. And one of my habits, thanks to Stanford Steph, is that every fall I organize a tour of regional orchards to evaluate their apple cider donuts.

These donuts are a regional treasure. But donuts are also terrible for you. So, it you are going to indulge, I think it’s important to make sure you are eating something that is truly worth the calories. Most of them are, as the experience of eating warm cider donuts on a crisp autumn day is generally more about the feeling of the season than its culinary potential.

Still, not all cider donuts are created equal. Some are great. However, in order to find the great ones, an intrepid band of eaters has to head into the wilderness and spend a day eating donuts. Maybe this year you will join the FLB and its special guest tour director.

But before any of that can happen, it’s time once again for cider donut nominations.

First, we have to consider the cider donut tours that have already been decided. The inaugural year we went to Indian Ladder Farms, Altamont Orchards, Fo Castle, Lakeside Farms and Bowman. Indian Ladder narrowly won over Altamont Orchards.

Year two sent our group east of the Hudson to Zachary’s, Goold’s, Golden Harvest, Samascott and LoveApple Farm. Golden Harvest won handily, but Goold’s might have been a contender had their donuts been served warm.

Year three went a little crazy with a 120 mile loop of Liberty Ridge, Saratoga Apple, Reggie’s, Hicks-Wilson, Sutton’s. It was worth it for Hicks-Wilson’s awesome warm oil-poached specimen.

So where haven’t we gone? Plenty of places that many people love and have sworn by for years. Just because they may be smaller, or a little off the beaten path, doesn’t make them any less good. In fact, smaller is often better.

Yes, there are some places east of the Hudson or even further upstate that were passed over. However, I want to stick a little bit closer to home on this go around. What I learned last fall is that if we don’t keep the driving manageable, only the hardiest of the hardy come out to play.

There are two actual apple orchards that were left out from previous rounds, and they deserve a spot on the tour. Perhaps there are even more that I’m missing.

Riverview Orchards – Rexford
Devoe’s Rainbow Orchard – Clifton Park

Riverview has their donut making operation behind glass so visiting throngs of onlookers can be mesmerized by the machinery making the memories. There are also a whole heap of farm stands that are part of our seasonal landscape which may also be worth a shot.

Shaker Shed – Albany
Gade Farm – Guilderland
Yonder Farms Cider Mill – Albany
Ellms Farm – Ballston Spa
Lansing’s Farm – Niskayuna
West Shaker Farm – Albany
Lindsey’s Country Store – Clifton Park

In the past we’ve let bakeries compete. Both Schuyler and Bella Napoli have outposts east of the Hudson. These could make the competition interesting. But I think we have enough ground to cover with the farm stands and the orchards. Maybe next year we can do a tour just of the bakeries and the remaining farm stands.

The question was raised about the Apple Cider CroDo from The Crisp Cannoli. I’m sure it’s delicious. It sounds remarkable. And I’m sure it would blow the cheap, simple and plentiful cider donuts out of the water. But that would be like racing a Ferrari against an MG. The MG is a handsome machine, but it just can’t compete.

It’s time to get excited. It’s time to get hungry. Once I get a better sense of the crowd favorites, I’ll work on a footprint, reveal the mystery guest tour guide, and share the date.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Which five places that we’ve missed in the past should we try to evaluate this year? Feel free to use my list, or add to it. And please remember, this isn’t voting. The ultimate decisions are going to rest with me and the mystery guest tour guide. But all input is given serious consideration.

So as always, no whining.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Debra permalink
    September 10, 2013 9:16 am

    I just had to let you know that I had my first cider donut of the season last Saturday. It was at: http://www.schoharievalleyfarms.com/the-carrot-barn.php. It was SO good. Crunchy on the outside & so soft inside. The flavor was perfect & just the right amount of sugar and cinnamon on the outside. (just my 2 cents) I know I didn’t answer the question asked, but I haven’t been around to all of them to answer honestly.

  2. Lilly permalink
    September 10, 2013 9:34 am

    I, living in Altamont as I do, always go to Indian Ladder and was very pleased to see it won the inaugural year. But, if I am headed out Schoharie way, I always stop at the Carrot Barn, they are my second go-to place for cider donuts. I’ll second Debra’s comment.

  3. September 10, 2013 9:59 am

    I had one of them there “cronuts” from the Crisp Cannoli the other day. It wasn’t an apple cider, it was some sort of “pumpkin” thing. I weren’t impressed. It was a bit oilier then a normal donut, but it had a sort of normal donut crumb to it… No layers or what not. I put bacon on it which improved the situation somewhat.

  4. clarincekaywasnotathreeamigo permalink
    September 10, 2013 10:17 am

    My regular spot is the Carrot Barn, mostly due to proximity. However, I’ve rarely had freshly fried donuts there.

  5. September 10, 2013 12:26 pm

    After covering the basics in the first two years, I think it’s time for more of a themed approach. Two suggestions: a/only go to places that have the wonderful “donut robot” device as it sounds like Riverview does; b/go for non-traditional cider donut recipes of which the cronut certainly is one example; another would be the bran muffin-like specimen we encountered at Samascott Orchards a couple years back. It got poor marks precisely because of its non-traditionalness yet it was objectively the best of th day.

  6. September 10, 2013 12:32 pm

    I honestly thought we were done. I can’t think of anywhere that’s known to have good cider doughnuts that hasn’t already been covered. Though since your two lead candidates are nearby, that might not stop me from going and eating anyway (and checking out two orchards I’ve never been to).

  7. September 10, 2013 1:07 pm

    [Quietly munching my Golden Harvest stash from last weekend.]

  8. September 10, 2013 1:32 pm

    These are my favorites, if you’re willing to take a quick trip over the Berkshires. Not sure why the reviewer gave them three stars – they’re five-star quality in my humble opinion:

    http://www.roadfood.com/Restaurant/Reviews/5359/donut-dip

    As for around here, I’m looking forward to trying some of the suggested places on that list. Sounds like a good way to spend a couple of days… driving around and eating donuts. ;)

  9. September 10, 2013 1:40 pm

    And don’t forget about this place, if you don’t mind a short drive… http://www.atkinsfarms.com/ . Great cider donuts, and all kinds of good produce. We get over there every couple of months and bring all kinds of great things back. Really worth your time to stop in and pay a visit.

  10. Susansanders permalink
    September 10, 2013 10:34 pm

    As much as I do love cider donuts, and I do! I must respond to an earlier comment about The Crisp Cannoli in East Greenbush, UHMAZING!!!!!!! I have tried several flavors of their croissant donuts— they were anything but oily and o delish! Buttery layer after layer! I consider myself a foodie and have experienced many pastries in my time and these croissant donuts are some of the best things I have ever tasted! A bite of the apple cider or pumpkin spice crodo and you experience autumn on your taste buds!!!!

  11. September 11, 2013 9:42 am

    Re: themes. It might be fun to do a “best of the best” tour at some point, where we revisit the first and/or second place hot spots from previous years.

  12. Jenn permalink
    September 11, 2013 2:59 pm

    As a Vermont transplant, I have to throw in that my favorite is the Apple Barn in Pownal, VT. It’s about an hour from Albany.

  13. September 13, 2013 12:57 pm

    I never trust overly enthusiastic replies. Just saying.

  14. September 15, 2013 12:17 am

    Great blog! I just discovered you and thank you for following us.

  15. KMO permalink
    September 19, 2013 5:55 pm

    Indian Ladder is among our favorites, but we’ve really enjoyed Gade Farm’s donuts & The Carrot Barn’s a lot.

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