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Food Find: Apple Cider Doughnuts in Flat Rock, N.C.

September 6, 2010

The lovely Sarah and I took my in-laws on a weekend field trip to Flat Rock, N.C.

My father-in-law had a series of mini-strokes recently, and he hasn’t been cleared to drive. That means my mother-in-law has been doing the driving around town–a chore she does not relish and does not do often enough for my father-in-laws innate adventuresome spirit. Needless to say, they both leapt at the chance to get out of dodge for a couple of days.

The foundation of our trip was a visit to Flat Rock Playhouse to see The 39 Steps, a hilarious send-up of the Alfred Hitchcock suspense thriller. The village of Flat Rock has several great little shops, including The Wrinkled Egg, which Sarah and her mom love.  I love that Flat Rock Village bakery is attached to the back of the store, offering a great assortment of pastries, breads, coffees and wood-fired pizzas. I give the cookies and coffee two enthusiastic thumbs up!

After we shopped on historic Rainbow Row, we headed up the road to Skytop Orchard. We went completely on a lark, you see, really just to check the place out. Were apples in season? We didn’t know. Doesn’t  it seem early to be selling apples?  Well, we’d know what to expect if we came for apples later in the season.

So went our reasoning.

We pulled into the parking lot to find a giant shed bustling with business. Apples of every description, plus apple butter, honey, jams, jellies, ciders and other farm-made products. And then…

“Come smell,” Sarah said, stopped under a tree near the barn.

The air was perfumed with the scent of warm yeast commingled with cinnamon, sugar and apple. Apple cider to be exact. Tucked away in the corner of the sales shed, two women were making fresh, hot apple cider doughnuts. Fresh dough, made with apple cider, cut into rings, fried in hot oil, then rolled in cinnamon and sugar. I could have watched those women make doughnuts all day.

Or, I could buy some so we could eat them.

Yes, I bought some. Half a dozen. I’d walked 15 miles that morning, I reasoned, I could deal with a donut or two or three if I wanted to. And, boy, how I wanted to.

The cashier stacked them in a white paper bag that immediately became saturated with oil from these fried rings of heavenly deliciousness. They were delicious. Warm and melty, the cinnamon sugar clinging to the dough to provide microbursts of sweetness.

I passed the bag around to my family, and we all had a taste. The women shared; my father-in-law and I ate our own whole doughnut. I’m not sure you could ever call a doughnut transcendent, but this was awfully close.

If you’re ever in Flat Rock, head to the Skytop Orchard and get some doughnuts. Tell me how you like them apples.

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