Quick survey: What do you look for in a pick-your-own apple farm? If your priority list looks anything like ours, cider doughnuts are probably right up there. It's the reward you (tell yourself you) earn after a long hour or so of apple picking, and the best places offer them fresh from the fryer so that the thick, lightly sweet cake batter rings are still hot and crisp.
But as we pleasantly discovered in our quest for the best—or, at least the best within a reasonable drive from Boston—the cider doughnut tradition isn't limited to apple orchards. A few of the local bakeries and restaurants make them as specials this time of year, too—and since we learned the hard way that they sell out fast, we'd say they're just as popular as the ones at the farms.
We also know that New England is doughnut country, and that there are probably a number of great places we didn't get to. Consider this your starter list, but please feel free to sound off with your favorites as well.
View Cider Doughnuts in New England in a larger map