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Sweet cider and raised doughnuts: a fall tradition

When autumn's colorful leaves carpet country lanes, roadside stands spill forth tangy apples to enjoy with a doughnut and a refreshing glass of sweet cider.

This tasty trio appears this time of the year at everything from a church fall festival to friendly, impromptu gatherings. And people who live in apple country think ''you can't have one without the other.''

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While enjoying these seasonal foods, one reminisces about days when grandparents kept barrels of Winesaps and other apples in their cold cellars for winter treats.

They remember carefully peeling apples as a child and throwing the long spiral peelings over a shoulder to forecast the initial of a future husband or wife. There was talk about the comparative goodness of Baldwin, Golden Delicious , Rhode Island Greening, and Ben Davis apples.

Such reminiscing usually brings to my mind the autumn Saturdays of my childhood when my grandmother customarily spent the morning making crisp, golden doughnuts which she called by their Yankee name, ''fried cakes.''

They were made exactly as her mother had taught her a generation before. I enjoyed a Saturday afternoon visit, when I sampled a fried cake with a sunny glass of sweet cider and a shiny red McIntosh apple.

Afterward I went happily home with ''our share'' of the fried cakes piled in a basket covered with a cloth napkin.

Today during the fall season I eagerly anticipate a telephone call from my friend Adele to tell me that she has just made a batch of raised doughnuts.

Adele excels in making these doughnuts according to a recipe her great-grandmother used over 100 years ago. Her invitation to share them is a hard one to surpass, as the doughnuts are light and crisply delicious.

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To become acquainted with the satisfying goodness of Adele's doughnuts, try her old-fashioned recipe with a few modern changes:

Great Grandmother Doty's Raised Doughnuts

1 pint milk, scalded

1/2 cup Crisco, melted

1/2 cup sugar

1 large or 2 small eggs

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon mace

Pinch of salt

3 envelopes of yeast (dissolved in lukewarm water)

31/2 cups flour

Let melted shortening and scalded milk cool. Mix with beaten egg, sugar, spices, and yeast. Add flour, increasing if necessary to make medium dough. Knead for about 5 minutes.

Place in large bowl in warm place for approximately one hour or until dough reaches top of bowl. Knead again; place in bowl; let rise again to top of bowl.

On well-floured board, roll out dough to about 1 inch thickness; cut with floured jelly glass or cooky cutter. Place on cooky sheet, and let rise until doughnut is about 1/2 more its size.

Fry in deep fat, not too hot. Be sure that doughnut is about 1/2 submerged in fat when frying until medium brown; turn with fork; brown other side.

Drain on brown paper; sugar when cool. Makes about 40 small, or 20 large doughnuts.

When you are not enjoying a fresh apple simply out-of-hand, try baking them in one of the following desserts.

The orange marmalade adds a tart touch of flavor to the baked apples in the first recipe. You may like to serve them with sweet cream, lightly whipped, or vanilla ice cream.

Autumn Medley

Core and peel apple half-way down from stem. Fill hole with raisins, orange marmalade, and brown sugar. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Place in pan with about 1/2 inch of sweet cider. Bake in oven at 350 degrees F. until tender, occasionally spooning cider over apple.

Good Apple Squares

1 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

11/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs

3/4 cup raisins

3 apples, diced

Mix all ingredients together, then pour into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 375 degrees F. for about 35 to 40 minutes. Let cool. Frost with favorite icing.

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