The Forty-Two Year Old Doughnut Muffin. - Something Edible
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The Forty-Two Year Old Doughnut Muffin.

The Forty-Two Year Old Doughnut Muffin.

Abstract: A 1968 community cookbook from Plainville, Kansas is probably one of the last places you'd expect to find a doughnut muffin recipe; let alone a fabulous apple cinnamon doughnut muffin recipe. With a little modern interpretation of a recipe that's probably over a half-century old, this vintage baked-good is produced easily and consistently; and that's good thing because this one's got the potential to be a weekend breakfast regular.

Purpose: When I wanna cook, but don't know what to cook, one of the first places I go for edible inspiration is my collection of community cookbooks. I have a soft spot for the nostalgia that is a community cookbook; and anyway, most everything in a good community cookbook can be done with a well-stocked pantry. Hell for that matter, everything in a mediocre community cookbook can be done too if your well-stocked pantry includes condensed soup and cake mixes.

On this particular occasion, I reached for the 1968 Sacred Heart Guild Cook Book. As if by divine intervention (go figure, huh?), I opened the bright-yellow, black plastic comb-bound tome straight away to a recipe titled "Baked Apple Doughnut". As I read thru the the recipe, I realized that these were actually doughnut muffins. Wow; who woulda thought that the not-so-long-ago trendy doughnut muffin could be found in a cookbook over 40 years old(!). I've really only messed with a doughnut muffin recipe once (it was pumpkin if you wanna know); and that was to kick the tires on a doughnut pan I had bought to experiment with. Anyhow, my interest was piqued enough to see how this older recipe would fare in comparison.

As I perused recipe, I realized that even if I wanted to do this recipe as wrote (which almost never happens), there would still be quite a bit left to artistic license. The thing about most community cookbook recipes is that they're concise to a fault. There's usually much in a recipe that's either implied or left to the liberty of whomever happens to be slinging the hash. That can be scary to some, but that falls right in with the way that I cook. Well, here - I could ramble on about it, but it's just easier if I show you. The recipe as follows is my interpretation. What follows the recipe are my notes as I was dissecting the doughnuts.

Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -

The Doughnuts (or muffins; whatever)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 tsps baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg (fresh-grated is best)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening Portioned into tablespoon-sized bits.
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup grated apple Peel before grating (I used 1 medium Fuji).
  • The Coating

  • 1/2 cup butter (that's one stick); you're gonna melt it.
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (If you're using fresh-grated cinnamon, 1 tsp will do.)

  • Preheat the oven to 350F and grease a 12-count muffin tin with cooking spray.

    To the bowl of a food processor, add flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and shortening. Take it all for a 10-second spin, add the sugar, and pulse it in until integrated (about 10 -12 pulses). In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and buttermilk until just frothy. Grate the apple, and then to a large bowl add the flour-coated grease granules and sugar mix, wet goods, and apple (in that order) and stir it all together until just mixed.

    Spoon enough batter into each cup of the muffin pan to fill halfway (about 2 Tablespoons), and bake for 20-22 minutes or until the edges are browned and a toothpick comes out clean.

    For the coating, melt your butter in the nuker, and whisk together the sugar and cinnamon. After the oven-fresh muffins have about a 5 minute rest, de-pan while still hot. Dip each in the butter and then roll in the cinnamon+sugar mixture. Move your coated muffins to a cooling rack for as long as you can stand it.

    Observation: Everyone should take notes when they cook. If by some stroke of luck, you accidentally do something that works, you most certainly wanna remember what that thing was. Ideas are ephemeral; and I can't tell you how many times I've lost 'em never to return. Here's a bit of what I was planning to forget this time -

    (Hey, it was 1968; nobody knew what screaming in caps was, but as it is a doughnut muffin, by all means scream away.)

    Sift together (Huh? sift? Charlie don't sift.)
    1 1/2 c. sifted flour (Yeah I get it; you said "sifted" already.)
    1 1/4 t. baking powder (Plenty of powder; batter's probably gonna be dense.)
    1/2 t. salt
    1/2 t. nutmeg (That'll be fresh-grated. Should I use less since the original probably used pre-ground? Nah.)
    1/2 c. sugar
    Cut in 1/2 c. shortening till real fine (Whoa, whoa, whoa. Easy, Trigger. "Cut in"? I don't even own a pastry blender. Hey- but I do own a food processor. Would I add the sugar before or after? Probably after. I wanna make sure that each bit of fat is flour coated, and those larger sugar granules might confound that.)

    Beat 1 egg (I wondered where the wet ingredients were), add 1/4 cup milk buttermilk, add 1/2 cup raw grated raw apples (Skin on or off? Skins might bleed pink, so I should probably peel 'em. Maybe if I had Granny Smith; but all I got is Fuji). Pour at once in dry ingredients (I bet the apple gets brown fast; better grate it at the 11th hour). Mix quickly and thoroughly (...but not too thoroughly; these are muffins). Fill 12 muffin tins (greased). Bake at 350 degrees for 20 or 25 minutes. Remove from pan at once (I better let 'em rest at least 5 minutes so I can handle 'em). Dip in melted butter, roll in cinnamon and sugar. Use 1/2 cup butter or oleo, and mix together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 t. cinnamon (Maybe more; I like cinnamon; but I bet if the cinnamon's grated fresh 1 tsp will be ok I really wanna be able to taste that nutmeg).

    Results: The name of the recipe is a bit ambiguous; but I reckon that's always part of the charm of a community cookbook recipe. Although it's true that this is a baked doughnut, it really doesn't taste like a baked apple per se.  Oh well, call it what you want; there's nothing confusing about the taste. Each bite of every muffin has the slightly floral spice of cinnamon floating on buttery sweetness; and that trick with the food processor gives the muffin a tender and even texture that even beats the pants off of most conventional cake doughnuts.  I can only imagine the work that Mrs. Fremond Comeau had to go thru in 1968 to achieve the same results with a fork or pastry blender.

    Y'know, I've always kind of made it a point to stay away from trends if I could help it (and not in a snobby hipster sort of way), because I think there are advantages for doing so.  A removed perspective from an obscure source has given me a gem of a recipe I'll be sure to bake again. And who knows? In a couple of years, maybe I'll find that piece of culinary cultural history that could persuade me to bake a macaron. :-p

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