I'm going to reveal something about myself right now that may shock my delicate foodie readers. Fair warning: it may be painful to read. You may feel offended in your very core. If you progress past this sentence, you have acknowledged informed consent and waive any rights to litigation regarding the psychological distress you may endure. Ready? Okay:
I don't like muffins. Or cupcakes.
"Nooo! You lie! The muffin/cupcake is a staple in the food blogger's collection of acceptably posh-looking sugary treats! The world couldn't go on without cute little cupcake stores, cupcake wedding cakes, and homey homemade coworker's birthday cupcakes!"
Sadly, it is true. I don't like any baked goods turned out of a muffin tin. I ate them for years, and even posted old recipes on this blog. But after making them and putting their rosy photos on the web they went straight into the freezer and languished, dry and frost-bitten, until a suitable amount of time had passed to justify throwing them away.
Why am I so full of hate? I admit, the poor muffins never did anything to me. They just annoy me for the same reason triple decker sandwiches, pizza cut into squares, and insufficiently chilled ice cream cones do: they're difficult to eat. You can't get your mouth around the whole thing, so you have to kind of nibble around and into the cakey middle while holding the wrapper gingerly on the other side and hoping the crumbs don't rub into your carpet. In both muffins and cupcakes, the good stuff is usually on top, so after you're done with that bit you just stuff the so-so rest of it into your mouth out of obligation.
I don't have anything against the muffin part of the muffin. I love sweet carby things. There's nothing better than a slice of quickbread with tea in the afternoon. The shape is the issue, and the little bits of paper stuck to the bottom if you use a low-fat recipe. So I was elated when I saw that the black sheep of American baking, the donut, was making a comeback in food blogging circles.
Donuts take a bad rap these days. They're the poster pastry for misguided anti-obesity campaigns. Drawing a cartoon cop without a box of donuts is like drawing a cartoon teacher's pet without glasses or a cartoon black man with normal hair. They top the list with potato chips and Big Macs as the foods we blame for all of our personal problems and the world's ills at large. Its dirty reputation is pretty irrational, given that your standard Krispy Kreme glazed donut has as many calories and fewer grams of sugar than the fashionably "nutritious" Larabar. It's junk food, to be sure, but I'd sooner attribute the skyrocketing diabetes in the Western world to those caramel-infused whipped-cream-topped lattes in the morning than the humble circlet you eat beside them.
All of that was just to build up to this point: I bought a mini donut pan!
(Photo stolen from Amazon, where I bought it)
This donut pan cures all of the problems I have with muffins. Thanks to the hole in the center, they're easy to eat and don't leave crumbs (also, they bake really quickly). The maximized surface area means I can cover the whole thing with "the good stuff." The logistics did take some getting used to, though. The first time I used it I filled the tins too much and ended up with mushroom-shaped mini muffins with holes in the middle.
But that didn't prevent me from messing around with toppings to find the perfect combination.
I tried powdered...
...then added water to my bowl to make a glaze...
...then stirred in melted chocolate chips to make a "ganache"....
...mixed up some cinnamon sugar for kicks...
...then played with coconut flakes.
The winners: cinnamon sugar and powdered. Obviously. They're the easiest to eat, being dry, and have the lightest taste. I focused on these for my second batch, after making some tweaks to the recipe and making a conscientious effort to use less batter per donut.
Isn't that better?
A little spray of oil keeps the sugar on the donut instead of my counter, but I put paper towels under the rack just to be safe. I also took a shortcut to the cinnamon sugar one by putting a standard crumb topping directly on the batter before baking.
I'm still adjusting baking times to get these just right. After I made them the proper size, they came out a little dry. I also need to perfect my storage methods.
My poor powdered donuts turned into sticky glazed when the condensation in the container hit the lid and trickled down again :(
I'll post my go-to recipe when I'm satisfied with it...if I remember and have the time. I haven't been posting lately because the world is out to get me, but that's a rant for another time on another blog.