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Wall Drug Wanderlust

Nov 7, 2019

I can't remember ever having a Wall Drug doughnut. As a kid, we often stopped at this iconic West River tourist destination on our trips to the Black Hills. I very well could have sampled a doughnut along with my cup of free ice water. However, I was a child with finicky eating habits, and food didn't hit my radar. I was probably entranced with some brightly colored T-shirt or flashy trinket that my parents refused to purchase for me. I have had my picture taken with a concrete saloon girl, but don't remember any doughnuts.

As an adult, it has been several years since I have made a trip across the Badlands and passed Wall Drug. When I do venture west, my schedule is usually rushed and not doughnut-stop friendly. I need to amend this. How can I consider myself a connoisseur of South Dakota foods without having a few Wall Drug doughnuts under my belt?

Until I get a chance to head west on a doughnut quest, I am going to have to make doughnuts in my own kitchen. The Wall Drug cake doughnuts are fried and served either plain or frosted with chocolate, maple or vanilla glaze. At home, I am not going to compete with these classics. Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts rolled in cinnamon sugar are as simple as baking muffins. Autumn is the perfect time to lean into apple cider as an ingredient, and warm spices are perfectly cozy for a crisp fall day. Let's just hope I don't get too cozy and forget my wanderlust for the Wall Drug doughnut.


Apple Cider Doughnuts are a fine substitute for Wall Drug's famous cake doughnuts.

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

(Adapted from Food Network)


For doughnuts:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/3 cup apple cider

1/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs


For dipping:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup granulated sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat doughnut pans with nonstick baking spray. (I use 2 six-cavity doughnut pans and bake my doughnuts like muffins, but some recommend 4 pans and after filling the first 2 pans, clamping the other 2 empty pans over the batter to form a mold for the doughnuts.)

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

In a liquid measuring cup, combine the cider, buttermilk and vanilla.

With a stand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Mix on high until light and fluffy. (Walk away and make a cup of coffee here. Let that butter and sugar cream to be REALLY fluffy.)

Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Add one-third of the flour mixture and then half of the cider mixture. Continue alternating between the two until the batter is just combined. Remove bowl from the stand mixer and give the batter a few folds with a rubber spatula to make sure the ingredients are well distributed.

Transfer the batter to a piping bag or a large zip-close bag with a corner snipped off (don’t snip the end until AFTER the bag is filled with batter), and pipe into two of the doughnut pans. Bake 15 to 20 minutes. The cake should spring back when gently touched. 

Turn the doughnuts out onto a cooling rack; immediately brush with melted butter, then dip in the cinnamon sugar. (I have skipped the melted butter and just immediately rolled the warm doughnuts in cinnamon sugar with great success.) Yield: 1 dozen doughnuts.


Fran Hill has been blogging about food at On My Plate since October of 2006. She, her husband and their three dogs ranch near Colome.


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