‘Give the people what they want.’
Granted, people with thrashier minds than mine came up with that familiar line. I believe those very minds belonged to the members of the 1960s-70s band The Kinks. At least, according to Wikipedia. I qualify the statement because I also found another band, named the O’Jays, that also had a song by the same title. If I cared more about music trivia than about baking a perfect soufflé I would have gotten to the bottom of it. But life is short and there are things to cook…
Which brings us back to food and to giving the people – in this case, the two gremlins I spawned – some homemade doughnuts.
All because they wore me down, I tell you. They wore me down.
I’m not a real doughnut fan, perhaps because when I think of them I can already feel the aftertaste of grease in my mouth, and the excessive sweetness and the almost polymer-like texture of the ‘creams’ many of them contain.
Not so for my girls, who frequently ask for them. And ask. And ask. And ask. And ask. And ask.
They love doughnuts, you see. Their idea of an idyllic afternoon would be to eat 7 doughnuts each while watching the newly released Cinderella movie at the theater. On those rare occasions when we stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to some morning errand, it’s like Christmas morning for them. They look so grateful and happy. And while two lucky guys are going to eventually thank their lucky stars for falling in love with such cheap dates, I shudder at the very idea of these fried balls of grease.
Did I mention that my girls were asking for doughnuts?
They wore me down, folks. If I were in college, I would say that they wore me down right to the bottom of the tequila bottle, where the spiked worm rests in peace. I begrudgingly started looking at doughnut recipes online and cringing at every one that required a quart of oil for frying…until I ran across a recipe that baked the little suckers. Eureka! Suddenly I was excited. And a little scared…what if my homemade ones weren’t as ‘good’ to the palate of my little ones as the ones at Dunkin Donuts?
Then I remembered the sludgy, gummy, tasteless cesspools of dough from the closer doughnut shop, ironically named Yummy Donuts, down the street and felt reinvigorated.
I was on a doughnut-making mission.
Baked doughnuts, that is.
As it turns out, there was no reason to worry about the girls not liking them. My older Alexia actually started to giggle as she was taking her first bites. They were a hit with Erik too, who asked me if I would make them again a few days later. All things considered, unfried and all, my little friends were a hit.
When biting into one of them, the texture is pillowy and yielding and moist. I had been concerned about the top of the ‘doughnut’ muffins being too hard and crusty, but that was not the case at all. The entire doughnut crust was soft and inviting and a perfect receptacle for the sugar in which it is dipped.
Honestly, you would never know that the darn things haven’t been fried until you find yourself reveling in their deep vanilla flavor accented with a fruity marmalade and not missing that often not-so-subtle fried-oil aftertaste.
making baked doughnuts
Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 12-hole muffin tin with 1 tablespoon or so of unsalted butter.
Place 11 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 50 seconds.
I know…why not 52 seconds? Or 47? Well, that’s how long it took for the blasted bar of butter to melt, and I didn’t want to heat it for one second longer…Now…there was still just a tiny bit of melted butter when I stopped nuking it, but figured that the rest would melt while I was getting the flour mixture ready and that is indeed what happened.
Put 2/3 cup of caster sugar, 1 1/3 cups of white, unbleached flour, 3/4 teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and mix to combine with a whisk. (I reduced the baking powder by a quarter teaspoon from the original recipe, pretty much the only change I made, because I wanted to decrease that ‘muffin bump’ that forms as they bake. That way they look more like hockey pucks and, once covered with sugar, resemble a ‘real’ doughnut.)
In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Pour the wet ingredients and melted butter into the dry ingredients and fold until mixed well. The batter will be rather firm, which makes it extra easy to spoon into the muffin holes.
Place a spoonful of the mixture into each muffin hole. Add 2 teaspoons of the marmalade of your choice into the center of each hole.
cover with the rest of the batter.
Place the muffins into the oven and lower the temperature to 375°F. Allow to bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully remove each doughnut with your hands and gently place one at a time in a small bowl containing 1 cup of sugar.
Roll each doughnut around in the sugar to make sure all sides are covered.
Serve warm. Makes 12 doughnuts.