This weekend Drin and I actually got to go on a “date”, per se. Though we’ve been married nearly 7 years now, with his law enforcement and construction work schedules, and my status as a 1L, which feels akin to a legal boot camp, we don’t really get to spend that much time together, and when we do, it typically involves errands and chores – not exactly quality. So, we try to make it a point to schedule quality time when we can both afford it temporally and financially This weekend we journeyed up to Bedford, Mass. to partake in some local beers and organic flat breads. Flatbread Company has become one of our favorite places to eat and drink, so it’s worth the ride from the South shore.
While there, Drin noticed that the restaurant is on route 62. Years ago, when we were shiny and new, we used to visit an orchard in Berlin, Mass. It was one of our favorite places – notice I said “was”. That was not a typo. Berlin Orchards was a family business, one that was run particularly well, too. There was a country store, a Christmas store, homemade preserves, pickles, cider and wine. The orchard, though large, appeared quaint, quintessential New England. Then they sold it.
The new owners seem to be a bunch of kids doing what the next generation does best, trying to make a quick buck. Maybe they are, but they did it at the expense of snuffing out the appeal of the small family orchard. The Christmas store is gone, the preserves are imported, there is no more wine, and the cider donuts are, in a word, bland. Bland in taste, yet quite exquisite in price – 6 for $6. Now, I know it’s only a dollar, but seriously, who wants to shell one six of their hard-earned dollars for puny, crusty, greasy, stale cider donuts that may or may not even include cider in the recipe? (if it’s in there I can’t detect it) In homage to our “date” though, we decided to try again and visited the orchard. They, now, board dogs – kennel free! At first I thought, that’s great. Then, while in a little alcove that used to house a honeycomb in the small window, a Burmese jumped up and said hello to me. A poodle and two weineramers behind him. They were “housed” in a small orchard, running the narrow rows between what appeared as miniature apple trees. I didn’t see any water, nor food, and there definitely was not a person there supervising the pooches – yup, it was just like the rest of the business, shoddy, pretentious, and I’m without reservation going to suggest, pricey, too.
The girl behind the counter was blaring hard rock music. She was a chilly type person with no time at all to even hint at a welcoming greeting as her hands were too busy taking money as fast as she could. Before your slip could be signed she was reaching for the patrons money behind you and screaming “NEXT!” in your ear. After that lovely experience we couldn’t get out of there quick enough – we left with a greasy brown paper bag the held 6 of the above mentioned pastries.
When we pulled out of the packed to the gills parking lot and headed West on Route 62, Drin reached, anxiously into the bag. What he pulled out was sad. Sad and pathetic. Sad, pathetic, and expensive. The apple cider donut both looked and tasted exactly the same, pitiful. Poor Drin, after such a great date, was left to finish it off with a mealy, greasy, tasteless donut, not even flavorful enough to wipe the bad taste left in our mouths from the new ownership managerial tactics at Berlin Orchards. That being said, I had to make it right for my sweet, apple cider donut loving hubby, who, I would date and marry all over again.
Apple Cider Donuts
adapted from smitten
1 cup apple cider
3 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter, soft
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
In a saucepan, reduce the 1 cup cider to 1/4 cup over medium heat, about 20 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg.
Beat butter and sugar together until smooth.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.
Add the reduced cider and buttermilk mixing just until combined.
Add the dry ingredients mixture and mix just until combined and dough comes together.
Flatten the dough out, on a floured surface with your hand to about 1/2 inch thickness.
Place dough on a sheet and in the freezer for 20 minutes.
Remove dough from freezer and cut out doughnuts.
Refrigerate cut outs for 30 minutes.
Heat oil to 350 degrees.
Add doughnuts to the heated oil being careful not to crowd the pan.
Fry until golden brown, about 60 seconds.
Turn over and fry until other side is golden brown, 30 to 60 seconds.
Remove to a plate lined with several thicknesses of paper towels.
Top the warm donuts with glaze or cinnamon sugar.