The recipe is the same year-round — has been for more than three decades — but somehow the apple-cider doughnuts for sale in Highland Orchard’s crowded market taste best on a sunny September afternoon. There are just a few ingredients: Highland’s apple cider, pressed each autumn from its 17 apple varieties; doughnut flour; and spices that owner Dave Hodge won’t reveal. (But there’s no ignoring the nutmeg.)
The result: crisp and airy cake rounds, sweet and slightly tangy, with a coating of cinnamon and sugar that sticks to your fingers and lips. In the fall, the orchard employs two doughnut robots — each shiny machine can cut and fry 40 dozen an hour — to keep up with the constant demand for the still-warm rings.
$4.95 a dozen. Highland Orchards, 1000 Marshallton-Thorndale Road, West Chester, 610-269-3494, highlandorchards.net.