Doughnut Muffins

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I’ve made doughnuts, and I’ve made muffins; but I haven’t yet made doughnut muffins – or to put it more clearly, muffins that taste like doughnuts. Whether you spell ‘doughnut’ as such or ‘donut,’ this ring-shaped snack food is a culinary testament to the glory of deep-frying — indeed, throw anything edible in an abyss of hot oil and its deliciousness factor jacks up several notches.

But deep-frying (even frying!) is a lot of work, and sometimes I’m not in the mood to knead dough, wait for it to rise, then shape, let rise again, fiddle with the temperature of oil, and (finally!) cook the damn things. My appetite is as impatient as I am and when it’s feeding time, it’s feeding time. As I’ve detailed in another post, frying is an art form that comes about only through practice and untold liters of cooking oil.

a baker's breakfast

Wanting to bake something for breakfast today but not entirely sold on making yet another batch of scones or biscuits, I come across a recipe that’s as intriguing as it is tempting — doughnut muffins: muffins that taste like doughnuts. Ooh la la. I make it to my kitchen in record time and soon, the flour is flying.

Remarkably easier to make than regular doughnuts, these doughnut muffins are made like a cake: butter and sugar beaten together, eggs mixed in one at a time, and then the wet and dry ingredients are added alternately in five additions. This method, also known as the creaming method, produces a crumb that’s soft and cake-like with a pleasingly crunchy top.

In my baking, I discover that nutmeg (alone, and not in tandem with other spices) is the “secret ingredient” in making anything taste old-fashioned, especially doughnuts. It’s responsible for that great flavor that “I can’t quite put my finger on.”

Using a large ice cream scooper, I place the muffins in a regular muffin pan, filling it until the batter is even with the rim of the cup. If you like muffins with a domed top just like the commercial ones, then mound most of the batter in the middle.

cinnamon and sugar

These muffins don’t really give off any heady aromas while baking, no hint of the lip-smacking goodness that awaits. They’re done when they’re firm to the touch. I’m supposed to wait until the muffins are “cool enough to handle,” but because I possess what I’ve been told are “asbestos hands,” I pick the muffins up as soon as they come out of the oven and dip them into a waiting bowl of melted butter. I try brushing on the butter with a pastry brush but the butter doesn’t adhere as well as just dunking the muffin in. It’s this lustrous glaze that satisfyingly mimics the “just fried” taste of a regular doughnut. A quick smooch with the cinnamon-sugar mixture and these babies are ready to go.

Pairing it with my homemade latte and perched on my favorite stool, I enjoy this doughnut muffin, its buttery crumb merging with the steam that escapes from its divine depths. Obviously, I can’t mistake this for a real doughnut, not even cake doughnuts (like what Dunkin’ Donuts sells), but for a baker’s breakfast, it’s immensely gratifying.

As I’m cleaning up, Boo comes down all dressed for school. She regards the cooling doughnut muffins with a glare and when told what they are, tells me, “You don’t make scones anymore, Mom,” her tone as accusing as any 5-year-old can muster.

donut muffin

“Just try them honey, you might like them.” Picking up one of the two lone muffins that I’ve yet to dunk in the cinnamon-sugar coating, she nibbles tentatively. “Hmm, yum, mom!” Her face brightens considerably. “But I still like your scones better,” she tells me, her mouth full of crumbs.

Want the recipe? It’s right here.

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