Apple Cider Gluten-Free Brioche and Doughnuts

Gluten-Free Apple Cider Doughnuts | Breadin5

(photo by Stephen Scott Gross, styled by Sarah Kieffer)

“…Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth…”
Robert Frost After Apple-Picking
This time of year nearly everything worth eating has apples in it. This gluten-free brioche from Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is made with the rich, slightly cloudy apple cider, which has a wonderful tang to it and isn’t overly sweet. You can use the clear apple juice, but it doesn’t have the same depth of flavor. This gluten-free brioche dough is wonderful baked in a loaf pan, made into a coffee cake or fried and dusted with cinnamon sugar like these doughnuts.

Apple Cider Gluten-Free Brioche

For the Apple Cider Brioche:

2 cups (11 ounces / 300 grams) Gluten-Free AP Flour Mix #1

4 1/2 cups (1 pound, 6 1/2 ounces / 640 grams) Cornstarch (we’ve found the recipe doesn’t come out as well when other starches are substituted)

2 teaspoons xanthan (or ground psyllium husk)

1 tablespoons yeast (we use Active Dry or Quick Rise from Red Star, both are gluten-free)

1 tablespoons Kosher salt

2 1/4 cups Apple cider, warmed slightly

3 large eggs

1 cup honey

1 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, xanthan gum, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a Stand Mixer. You can also do this in any 5-quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container, but we find we got the best results in a stand mixer.
  2. Combine the apple cider, eggs, honey, butter, and vanilla, and gradually mix them into the dry ingredients, preferably using a heavy-duty stand mixer with paddle. Cover (not airtight), and allow it to rest at room temperature until the dough rises, approximately 2 hours.
  3. The dough can be used as soon as it’s thoroughly chilled. Refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 5 days.

Use the brioche to make any of our sweets, including these doughnuts:

Makes 1/2 dozen doughnuts

You can find photos of the process of making the doughnuts here.

1 pound (grapefruit-size portion) Apple Cider Dough (above) or Challah or Brioche dough

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Cinnamon sugar, for dusting


Deep saucepan for deep-frying, or an electric deep-fryer

Slotted spoon

Paper towels

Deep Fry Thermometer

  1. Fill the saucepan (or electric deep-fryer) with at least 3 inches of oil. Bring the oil to 360° to 370°F as determined by a candy thermometer.
  2. As the oil is heating, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with rice flour and pull out a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece. Dust the piece with more flour and roll the dough into a ½ -inch-thick rectangle on a floured surface. Using a doughnut cutter, cut the dough into 3-inch rounds.
  3. Carefully drop the doughnuts in the hot oil, two or three at a time, so they have plenty of room to float to the surface. Do not overcrowd, or they will not rise nicely.
  4. After 2 minutes, gently flip them over with a slotted spoon and deep-fry for another minute or until golden brown on both sides.
  5. Using the slotted spoon, remove them from the oil and transfer to paper towels to drain.
  6. Repeat with the remaining dough until all the doughnuts are fried.
  7.  Dust generously with cinnamon sugar.

50 thoughts to “Apple Cider Gluten-Free Brioche and Doughnuts”

    1. So sorry– there’s no water in that recipe, the only liquid is the cider. I’ve fixed the instructions now, thanks for catching that and letting us know (it’s correct in the book– ).

      1. Thanks for the reply Jeff. At the time I sent that question I didn’t have a copy of the book; now I do as of today.

        Which brings another find – well sort of anyway. In the opening paragraph to chapter three, you use the word ‘spare.’ While technically that word does convey what you want, the sought for action would be probably be better conveyed if the word ‘sparse’ were used. Perhaps that is the word you intended to use, but a typo occurred during print set-up.

    1. Sure. You can probably swap apple cider for water in the regular brioche recipe. Haven’t tried it but should work– might want to decrease the other sweetener slightly.

  1. Hello from the UK!
    Pls could you describe what consistency the mixture should be once all the ingredients are combined but not rested yet? Thank you

    1. See our videos on GF by clicking on the Gluten-Free FAQs tab above, and choose “Videos: Where can I view videos so I can see what your gluten-free dough’s supposed to look like?” Any of those will show you the consistency. Soft biscuit dough (US biscuits, I’m afraid, which may not help you much!).

  2. I used the Apple Cider Gluten-Free Brioche dough to make bomboloni for my daughter who has celiac disease. They were phenomenal. No one would ever guess they were gluten free. Thank you!

  3. Are you sure the online recipe is correct? I tried it and it came out the consistency of pancake batter. Had to add double the AP flour mix #1. Also, what temperature should the liquids be? The dough didn’t really rise at all and the doughnuts tasted like yeast.

    1. Hi Mary,

      Did you use xanthan or psyllium in your recipe? Did you substitute any ingredients in the recipe? Did you mix in a stand mixer or by hand?

      Thanks, Zoë

      1. Zoe,

        I used psyllium husk powder but put in 2X the amount. That’s what usually works when I make bread doughs. Didn’t substitute any other ingredients. Used my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

      2. Hi Mary,

        When you mix the dough with psyllium it will seem very wet, almost liquid, but as it sits, it will firm up considerably. Did this ever happen with your dough?

        Thanks, Zoë

      3. Zoe,
        Yes this happens when I make your crusty boule recipe but it takes maybe a minute. The doughnut dough didn’t firm up even after 10 minutes. I mixed and mixed and mixed and finally added more flour mixture. I don’t think the doughnuts would have been too bad if the dough had risen. Seems like the cider was too cool. The recipe says slightly warm, but what temp is that?

      4. Well, I will try again in a week or so. Will check temp of cider more closely. The doughnuts aren’t that bad. My husband is eating them even though he can eat gluten. I don’t really like them but I’m a more picky eater.

    2. I realize I’m fully eight years late to this conversation, but I’m gonna add my experience anyway, and hopefully it will help someone someday.

      First, trust the process! If you’ve followed the recipe exactly, the dough WILL firm up, but for me it didn’t happen until I’d refrigerated it overnight. I woke up to an absolutely beautiful dough of exactly the right texture.

      And I can think of two reasons why Mary’s dough might not have risen. First: Perhaps her yeast was too old. I’m always a little nervous adding dry yeast directly to a recipe—I usually prefer to “proof” it first, adding it to some of the liquid ingredient with a bit of sugar to wake it up and get it started so I know it will be able to create the rise I want. But in this recipe, just make sure you use the freshest yeast you can find. Or buy yeast in a larger quantity, rather than in those little one-use packets, and then you can proof a bit of it from the larger batch before you add dry yeast from the batch to your brioche recipe.

      The second reason that Mary’s dough may not have been able to rise effectively is that she added so much extra flour to the dough, hoping to firm it up. With so much extra flour, the dough may have been too heavy to rise. (Also: While using liquid at the right temperature is ideal, even if you use relatively cold liquid, if you make the dough as written and leave it at a reasonably warm room temp for the two hour rest time, I’d think you’d get some rise—unless the yeast was too old.)

  4. My daughter has an egg allergy. Do you think that flax and water would work as a substitute for the eggs in this dough? Or do you recommend any substitution for eggs?

    1. Hi Heidi,

      I have had good success making the breads with the flax mixture, but I’m not tried it in the brioche. If you give it a try I’d suggest you make a small batch to make sure you like the results. Some readers have reported having good results with EnerG egg substitute as well.

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. Hi, what would you recommend in place of the cornstarch. I know you said other starches don’t work well but I and my daughter are allergic to corn. Your input would be very much appreciated. Thanks.

  6. Thanks Jeff. I can’t help the substitution in this case. A corn allergy is such a pain in so many ways. I even make my own baking powder and powdered sugar because of it. We do love the 5 min bread although it only makes 3 loaves since I have 3 people eating it. 🙂

  7. Hello,

    Have really been enjoying your gluten free recipe book. I just made this recipe for apple cider brioche. Mine turned out almost cake-like — is that they way yours turns out? Also, I would love suggestions for what to serve with this.

  8. Out of curiosity – when you say there is no substitute for the cornstarch, what other starches have you tried so far? Any besides tapioca/arrowroot/potato? I am interested in trying it with some other more unusual/obscure starches for the sake of science, but I want to avoid doing things you’ve already determined didn’t work! Thanks.

    1. Hi Meg,

      I have tried all of those starches. Please let me know if you find one you like better. Which do you have in mind?

      Cheers, Zoë

  9. I know this might sound crazy, but has anyone tried using Apple Cider Vinegar in place of the Apple Cider?
    I’m planning to give it a go, but I wanted to check in here first!
    (I’ll be sure to report how it goes either way)

    1. Hi Daffy,

      Oh, I fear this will be very intense. I would start by adding a couple of tablespoons of the vinegar and not replace all of the apple cider. Be sure to make a small batch until you get the dough you like.

      Thanks, Zoë

    2. Vinegar makes it into a sour sourdough… I made a mistake when writing out the recipe by hand, and wrote “vinegar” after apple cider out of habit, and didnt think twice about it… My dough didnt really rise. If you are using the recipe for doughnuts, I wouldn’t recommend using apple cider vinegar

  10. Doughnuts were sad and dense. But I had excellent results when I cut the doughnuts out and let them rise overnight. Ditto for a bread loaf I made from this in a plain “tin” bread pan. Warm dough that has re-risen makes a great bread.

    Also, I did not have any fancy $$$ raw apple cider, so I took the Trader Joe’s stuff, put a slice of fresh apple in it, and left it on the counter for a few days to develop flavor. Nice.

    I bought the GF book so that I can try other things.

    One other thing, could you please use the terms “Tablespoons” or “Tb.” or “Tbsp” or “T.” and “teaspoons” or “tsp.” or “t.” ??? You see, the big one should have a big “T” and the little one should have a little “t” for ease in reading. It is a standard convention in cookbooks I have seen.

  11. Hello – I’ve made the regular brioche doughnuts (fried) which were fabulous. The instructions were to give the cut out doughnuts a rest and rise time – for the gluten free doughnuts it appears there is no rest time, just cut them out and put them directly in the fryer?

  12. Hello Zoe,
    This wonderful apple cider brioche GF bread — in the recipe it calls for adding 2 tsp XANTHUM GUM to your #1 GF FLOUR MIXTURE. This mixture already contains XANTHUM GUM, right? So, you adding additional XANTHUM to this recipe?
    THANKS, Karen

  13. I made the gf brioche on page 216, and had a difficult time getting a smooth consistency. I needed to go back with wet hands and squish clumps of cornstarch. Is this how it needs to be done or do you have any advice? The milk was luke warm, at 94.1 degrees F. Thanks!

    1. Hi Ari,

      Did you stir it by hand or did you use a stand mixer? If you are getting lumps and have a stand mixer, I would throw it in there with the paddle attachment and let it mix for a minute or so.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Haven’t tested that, but it should work, using the baking temp for gluten-free brioche in “Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day” (click on book image above). Baking time will be the experimentation part of this for you. 15 to 20 minutes?

  14. Hi! Love all the recipes in the book. I made this one the other day and found the dough to not be sweet enough. Would I be able to add more sugar to the recipe without messing it up?

    1. Sure… but go easy, that will change the way the dough performs, in unpredictable ways. No more than a quarter cup at a time–you’ll have to experiment.

    1. I haven’t got an air fryer, but I have done it in a crock pot. That’s in the books, or here on the website.

  15. Has anyone tried this using King Arthur Measure-for-measure GF flour (the version that already contains xanthan gum)?

    That’s what I just did and the dough had the consistency of batter before and after the 2 hour rise. It seems slightly thicker, but I see no bubbles forming (though the only yeast I had was a few months past the expiration date).

    It’s in the fridge now, and I’ll fry it in the morning, though I’m expect it will be more like funnel cake than doughnut.

    1. Tried it, similar experience. This flower wasn’t really designed for bread. You may be able to salvage if you add more flour until it’s like the consistency and my video

  16. Dear Moderator,

    Please don’t post my comment about substituting KA m4m GF flour. Subsequent googling (and reading the package) clearly state it’s not good for yeast recipes.

    Instead, can you recommend a widely available GF blend that is good for yeasted dough? Making my own blend is just too many steps for a casual baker.

    1. Sorry I had already answered the other one first. I haven’t found a great substitute for my own custom mixture, but the Better Batter all.purpose GF product may work better than KAF.

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