Tag Archives: Michigan

Cider Donuts: A Michigan Fall Tradition

Michigan is blessed with not only an abundance of apples but also with just about everything apples can be made into when the autumn leaves begin to fall.

From pies, strudels, crisps, and cobblers to sauces, butters, and of course, cider, Michigan’s yearly harvest is a time to explore apple’s culinary versatility and to enjoy every bite of its deliciousness.

Yet of all the great recipes you can use apples IN, perhaps one of my very favorites is one that you can enjoy apples WITH, and that would be donuts.

Cider and ________.

If you didn’t instantly fill in the blank with donuts, you probably didn’t grown up in Michigan like I did.

I grew up on cider; I grew OUT on donuts.

Whether you’ve enjoyed cider and donuts at one of Michigan’s cider mills or purchased your cider and donuts at Nino’s, there’s something about the magic of enjoying them together that’s every bit as fall as fall colors, the smell of burning leaves, football and a breath of brisk fall breeze.

Generally, bakers know cider donuts as cake donuts (versus the yeast-raised kind), and they fall into two categories: plain and cinnamon sugar (or spiced).

I prefer cinnamon sugar.

And if you want to enjoy the experience of a truly fresh, warm cider donut with a frosty glass of sweet apple cider, there’s no better way than to make one at home.

And my recipe is easy peasy. You probably have everything you need in your fridge and pantry right now.

Watch me make delicious cider donuts in this video. Find the recipe below!

Michigan Cider Donuts

Makes about a dozen 3-inch donuts

First, you will need these supplies:

  • 2 round cookie cutters, 1 – 3” and the other 1” in diameter
  • A sauce pan to fry the donuts in (It should be about 4” to 5” deep and filled half full with a vegetable oil–I use Canola Oil. Heat it to 350 F–about medium heat.)
  • A rolling pin
  • A slotted spoon or skimmer to turn the donuts over while frying and lift them from the oil once done
  • A shallow bowl filled with 1 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 TBSP of ground cinnamon (presuming you’re making cinnamon sugar donuts of course)

The Recipe

2 ea Extra Large Eggs
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
2 TBSP Brown Sugar
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1 TBSP Baking Powder (must be fresh)
½ tsp Salt
½ tsp Ground Nutmeg (Freshly grated is even better!)
½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
3 TBSP Melted Butter
½ Cup Milk (Whole or 2% will do)
3 to 4 cups Vegetable Oil ( I use Canola Oil)


In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the eggs and sugars until light and airy. Stir in the vanilla.

In two stages, stir half of the flour mixture, the milk and melted butter into the beaten egg mixture. Stir until smooth, and add the remaining half of the flour, milk and butter. The mixture should resemble a soft dough.

Let this dough rest (covered) for about 30 minutes while you flour a flat working surface and heat your oil to 350 F.

Turn the dough onto a floured counter, and lightly flour the top of the dough as well.

Gently roll out the dough to 1/2″ thick.

Flour the edge of your cookie cutters, and then cut into 3″ rounds. Cut the center out of each donut with a 1″ cookie cutter.

Gently lift up each donut with a spatula (or your hand), and carefully place it in the hot oil.

Fry each side for approximately 2 minutes or until each side is medium brown. They will float.

Once fully cooked, remove the donuts onto absorbent paper towels and then onto a service plate. If you wish to make cinnamon donuts, IMMEDIATELY place the donuts into the cinnamon sugar mixture once removing them from the hot oil (1 cup of sugar to 1 TBSP of ground cinnamon). Coat on both sides.

Your homemade cider donuts can not only taste better than some of the donuts you’ll find at the cider mill but also provide a wonderful opportunity to share special moments with your family.

Let me know how YOUR donuts turned out or if you added an ingredient or two to make this recipe your very own.

What’s Michigan’s Official State Food?

The other day, I was thinking about the time I’ve spent in states that are as much known for their cuisine and famous dishes as for their attractions or heritage.

In other words, I was pondering the must-taste states. In this country, just using soups as an example, you’d identify gumbo with the South, chili with the Southwest and chowder with the Northeast. Crab cakes call Maryland their home, Kansas City and Chicago have their beef history, San Francisco has its sourdough bread, and Boston boasts its beans.

There are many places you can’t visit without at least once sampling their signature dishes.

Granted, some Northerners might wish they could escape the South without confronting grits at least once, but their peaches, pecans, fresh-caught fish, and shrimp? Well, that’s something else altogether.

Most states have an official food. Some even have an official dish. And leave it to the politicians: one state just had to make everyone happy by declaring an official state meal.

Guess what?

Michigan is NOT on that list. It has neither a state fruit nor a state vegetable. There’s no state dish, and (thankfully) we don’t have a state meal.

How ‘bout them apples! Or not.

It’s probably just as well. I can’t imagine our legislature simultaneously dealing with all the good folks who grow apples, blueberries or cherries, let alone sugar beets and all of our other great crops.

But in the event that you’re wondering what other states have decided you should be eating when you stop by, I’ll give you a sample plate. (And I’ll warn you in advance. Some of their choices are a little hard to digest.)

Official State Foods, Snacks and Meals

Massachusetts made the obvious choice when it selected the Boston Crème Pie as its official dessert. Maine on the other hand? Well, as Ricky often said to Lucy, they must have had some “esplainin” to do when residents officially gave the “Whoopie Pie” their nod for state snack. In a really bizarre twist, Pennsylvania residents actually fought against Maine’s plans so that THEY could claim the Whoopie Pie as THEIR own. (The nerve of some states. Sheesh!) As mentioned earlier, if you love Georgia peaches, be sure to have a big slice of peach pie while you’re in town. It’s the state fruit. But if you’re not a fan of grits, beware; they’re also this state’s designated prepared food (Honestly, who makes up these categories?).

The home of the Big Apple, New York, is also the official home of the fruit. It was awarded that honor in 1976. The muffin became an official state food in 1987 thanks to the particularly dogged efforts of a fourth-grade elementary school class from North Syracuse. (I’m not makin’ this stuff up either–really.).

Before you think everyone has lost his mind, we have to tip our 10-gallon hat to the state of Texas, which pretty much got it right by naming chili as its official dish and tortilla chips and salsa as its official snack. Similarly, Louisiana did the reasonable thing by choosing gumbo as its official cuisine (even though I don’t consider gumbo a cuisine, but then again, no one contacted me for my advice.).

The official snack of Illinois?

Class? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Well, if you guessed popcorn, congrats! You get the day off to do–whatever.

Last, AND least, the “I Can’t Make Up My Mind, Everything Looks So Good” award goes to the great state of Oklahoma for having so many official state foods that it had to create a whole new category called its official state meal.

What makes its official state meal (passed in 1988) so interesting to me is that it’s comprised of foods I don’t even readily associate with the state. Then again, why should that really matter when it has yet to release its official state recipes or state-sponsored cookware? Maybe I should reserve my judgment.

Hungry? You’d better be because the smorgasbord begins with barbecued pork, chicken fried steak, biscuits and gravy, fried okra, corn, black-eyed peas, grits (again?), squash, corn bread, strawberries and pecan pie. In all fairness to Oklahoma, the official meal is meant to reflect the “cultural backgrounds and the state’s historical and contemporary agriculture.

Okay, I’ll bite.

And you? If you were to take a bite of Michigan’s official food, dish, snack, cuisine or meal, what would you be eating?

Class? Anyone? Anyone?

Michigan Produce in Peril

You certainly felt the oppressive heat, and you’ve probably noticed your water bill take a spike these last couple of months, but have you been paying attention to your produce lately?

If not, you’d better sit down because when it comes to Michigan produce, we’re in for some pretty tough times. And the worst may be yet to come.

The first wave of this Tsunami hit earlier this month. Michigan’s Sweet Corn crop, and now its world-famous Blueberry harvest, have been largely compromised due to crop damage. Supplies are limited.

But a bigger wave is not too far off shore, and you’ll want to be on high ground when THIS one hits.  Michigan’s apple crop is in serious trouble.

How bad is it? What can you expect?

I sat down with Nino’s very own expert produce buyer and a co-owner of Nino’s St. Clair Shore’s location, Mike Santoro, to get some of the answers. Mike has over 30 years experience buying produce in Detroit. He and his son, Joe, are buying produce each morning at the Detroit Produce Terminal before most of us have even hit the snooze button. They’ve just about seen it all.

Is this the worst local produce disaster they have ever seen?

Here’s what they had to say:

“This has been one of the most challenging crop years I have ever seen and certainly the worst for Michigan apples in all my years of buying. Growers are telling me that they estimate they have lost 90% of their entire crop!” said Mike Santoro.

“When we had that early warm spell this year, the trees went into bloom, and then a hard frost destroyed them. No blooms, no apples. Once that happens, there is nothing you can do except wait until next year. The damage was done.” He continued…

Were other Michigan crops affected by this same early warm weather and late frost?

“Yes, other tree fruits like cherries had similar issues but none to the extent of our apple crop.”
“Even worse, Michigan’s apple cider production will be severely limited with very few, if any, Michigan apples to make into juice. What may be available will be very, very expensive, and the quality may not be what we’ve seen in past years.”

What about the recent hot weather and the drought we hear so much about?

“Well, that’s caused a whole different issue for non-tree crops like corn and blueberries. Corn needs a lot of water, and blueberries need cooler weather, especially cooler evenings. Unfortunately, we’ve had little of either.”

Is there any good news?

“Yes, actually on a couple of fronts. While prices may increase, we do expect to maintain adequate supplies of Michigan sweet corn throughout the late summer and early fall. Other “soft” fleshed crops like zucchini can be replanted throughout the growing season, giving them and us a renewed opportunity for another harvest. Watermelons, believe it or not, love the heat, and as long as they and similar crops (like pumpkins) have been given enough irrigation, they should come through this rather well too.”

Will this disastrous growing season affect next year’s crops?

“Yes and no. In the case of apples, it will all depend on the weather once again. Actually, the trees will want to produce even MORE fruit next year, which isn’t good for the trees. Farmers have ways to deal with this though, so as long as the weather is good, we have every chance of being back to normal next year.”

And the farmers?

“That’s what I’m worried about. Smaller farmers have fewer resources, both land and money, to survive the loss of nearly their entire crop. If they go under, next year may see fewer farmers growing these products. And that affects supply and demand as well.”

Any advice for Nino’s customers?

“We first want to let all of our Nino’s customers know that we’re proud of our decades-long relationships with our local farmers. When you look at it from a personal level, we’re both family businesses. Our business success is built, in part, on their crop successes, so they have always been part of our extended family.”

“Yes, the lack of supply will affect the prices of some of Michigan’s produce to be sure, but we also have many alternative resources to keep our customers supplied with all of their favorite items.”

“People sometimes ask how we manage to get through these challenging situations. It’s simple. It’s our personal commitment to quality, value, great selection and great service.”

“And that’s the way we do it!”

Have you noticed a difference in your produce? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.