There is a manmade lake in the middle of my town, surrounded by nearly four miles of trails to walk. Mothers push their children in strollers and dogs walk in zigzag lines behind. Small patches of grass get muddy and sometimes snakes lay stretches on the path, baking in the sun. Lazy, they won't move for you.
The water is dammed, controlled. You can sometimes see the bursts of mist from deer that hide just behind the tree line. You can almost feel their skittish energy. You want to say sorry and that you didn't mean to bother them. You're just there to get some fresh air, too.
I used to walk this park with my best friend, Carissa. When she worked at a country craft store and I worked at a gas station. Before I went to Italy and we talked about the boys we hated. I took my boyfriend there the first time he visited my town; I said it was the only place that made me feel like I was really home. The lake is landlocked and the beach is roped off, the roads are blocked and there are parts of the trail that aren't shaded. There's a homeostasis that makes you whisper, branches that you could twist your ankle on if you were walking any faster, and the mosquitos bounce from left to right in the summertime.
And now it's November and gets dark at four. The light dies and I have an electric blanket I keep plugged in all day. But this weekend we went and had a picnic before it got too cold, too rainy; before we got too sleepy. My mother brought home rugelach and it inspired the donuts that I baked one morning. Apple and almond for fall. A hot cup of coffee and a boy's arm to keep me warm. It's November now and it gets cold at four; but that's still eight hours to dream about a future and a farm and a hand to hold.
Almond and Apple Rugelach Donuts
Ingredients for Doughnuts:
- ¾ cup water, warm to the touch
- 1/3 cup full-fat cream cheese, left out for half an hour to be closer to room temperature
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cup AP flour + additional for kneading dough
- 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Almond-apple filling (recipe below)
- Vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup cornstarch
Directions for Doughnuts:
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together water, cream cheese, ¼ cup sugar, yeast, and salt. Allow to sit for five minutes
- Next, sift together flour and cinnamon
- Then, use a wooden spoon to gently stir while slowly pouring flour into your wet ingredients. Do this slowly, stirring in a large circular motion, and do not add an additional cup until previous is completely mixed (depending on altitude, you may require a little more flour than what is listed)
- Dump dough onto a floured work surface and knead for three or four minutes, until dough is light and springy (it will not be a big ball of dough)
- Place into a greased bowl with a tea towel cover to rest for thirty minutes
- While dough is resting, prepare your station. Lay out your parchment paper on a cookie sheet to easily assemble your donuts. Also, have your cornstarch poured onto a plate to dip your dough in, and have your almond-apple filling at the ready
- When thirty minutes have passed, roll dough out into a large rectangle, about a quarter inch thick
- Using a doughnut cutter, cut out about 20 rounds
- Place half of these rounds on your prepared parchment pan and, using a small rubber spatula or spoon, rim your dough with a small amount of your almond-apple filling. Repeat with remaining dough
- Now, top these prepped doughnut rounds with the remaining half that you had cut out but set aside. Press down slightly and pinch the edges to hold them together (they may be a little messy, so work slowly
- One by one, take a doughnut and dip into your cornstarch, replace back on prepared pan. Repeat with remaining doughnuts
- Now, heat about an inch of oil in a pan and bring to 375*F (if you do not have a thermometer, you can pinch off a bit of dough and carefully dip in the oil to see when it begins to bubble around the dough)
- Now, carefully place doughnuts, two at a time, into your pan to fry. Each side should only need about 20-30 seconds max, but keep checking the edges to ensure they do not burn
- Remove using tongs and place onto paper towel-covered plate to drain off excess grease
- Repeat with remaining batches
- Eat immediately while still warm, or store in an airtight container for up to two days. Enjoy for breakfast with coffee and confectioner’s sugar
Ingredients for Almond-Apple Filling:
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup almond meal (a fine one works perfectly here such as Bob's Red Mill)
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 TB apple butter
- ½ TB orange juice
- Half of apple, cored
Directions for Almond-Apple Filling:
- Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth
- Use immediately with doughnut recipe above
This post was sponsored by two awesome companies. The first being American Press. American Press provided me with their press and I have honestly used it probably ten times in the last two weeks. The beauty of this product is twofold: the first being how easy it is to use and clean (a huge advantage for French Press users), but also how full-flavored the coffee is. As many of you know, I'm a Folger's and Mr. Coffee kinda guy, but I can enjoy American Press because it can elevate my experience without any fussiness.
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