Monday, April 18, 2011

KAF Donut Muffins (a rescue story)

Life is funny. I was all set to post a recipe today for Mandelhoernchen, the most delicious almond cookie on the planet, but thats just not going to happen and here is why:

A long time ago, when I worked near Downtown Sacramento, I would sneak over to Freeport Bakery and treat myself to one of these life changing delights. For over 10 years, I have been searching, off and on, for a recipe but never knew what they were called. Almond Horns? Almond Crescents? I found a lot of recipes but they were usually flour and butter based and the pictures did not look at all like what I had remembered. Hmmmmm? Then EUREKA! Just two weeks ago I was poking around on Gesine's blog, Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker, and I found it. The name of these treats, the recipe, the picture of exactly what had eluded me oh these many years. What joy! What bliss! Finally the reward for my long and steady search; I couldn't wait to make then. I carefully gathered all the ingredients, even when so far as to make my own almond paste, and got to cooking. It was a DISASTER! I'm really too raw and emotional to go into detail about it now. I'll post about it later, when I've perfected the recipe, when my confidence has recovered. Please, stay tuned.

Now, I was always taught "When a horse throws you, get back on and ride it." So, in spite of my earlier disaster I headed back to the kitchen to bake. This time, just to get my confidence back up, I'm sharing one of my tried and true recipes. One that is in pretty heavy rotation around our house. One that never fails to please and always, always turns out good. Really good! Donut Muffins. You can find the recipe here on the King Arthur Flour web site. (oh and BTW, great web site, go poke around and check it out.) These muffins have the same taste and texture of a plain cake donut. They are delicious and easy to make. Enjoy!

Here is what you need: butter, vegetable oil, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, vanilla, flour and milk (I'm showing buttermilk, which works fine but I actually prefer whole milk, use what you have.)

Start by generously spraying your standard 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. NOTE: This recipe does not work well with muffin papers, I don't recommend using them.

Cream together the butter, vegetable oil and sugars until light and fluffy. (See this post on cookies for an example of "light and fluffy".) Add the eggs and mix to combine.

Stir in the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and vanilla.

Stir in the flour and milk alternately beginning and ending with the flour, mixing WELL with each addition. As opposed to most muffin recipes which require gentle mixing, you want to make sure these are well mixed!

Use this mixing sequence for best results: 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup milk, 2/3 cup flour. 

Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared pan. They will be pretty full so don't be worried.  (I use a #20 disher/ice cream scoop.)

Give the pan a gentle rap on the counter to settle the batter into the bottom.

Then into a 425°F oven for 13 to 15 minutes just until the tops are a light golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin should come out clean. Resist the urge to get them any darker than in the picture.

Let them cool just a few minutes in the pan, then remove to a cooling rack to continue cooling. The bottoms of my muffins here are a bit darker than I'd like because I have dark, coated pans which, by the way, I don't like. If you're buying new pans in the near future, keep this in mind!

You'll have to forgive me, I forgot to take any pictures of the next few steps. I'm a little off my game since the Mandelhoernchen disaster. Recovery is in the works!

To finish the muffins: In a small cup melt 4 tablespoons of butter. In a separate small bowl mix together 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 teaspoons cinnamon. Dip the tops of the muffins into the melted butter and then into the cinnamon/sugar. Serve warm or let cool completely and store in a airtight container.


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