Aug 1, 2007

Nutmeg Doughnut Muffins

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Who wouldn’t love a muffin that tastes like a doughnut? Who doesn’t love dessert masquerading as breakfast? Communists, that’s who.

The Nutmeg Doughnut Muffin, after it’s done blowing your mind, will become one of those great recipes to have on hand whenever you find yourself having to provide something breakfast-y, but you really don’t want to be the loser serving a store-bought coffee cake or somesuch (brunch, wedding/baby shower, tea party–hey, why don’t people have more of those, anyway??). Fresh nutmeg, snowy powdered sugar (or a mixture of granulated sugar and cinnamon) and a tender but significant crumb give these muffins their shockingly doughnut-like flavor without being fried.

This is the kind of thing that makes people think you are fantastically genius and innovative in the kitchen. And then they all try and rip you off by asking for the recipe. The Nutmeg Doughnut Muffin is a double-edged sword that way, and in other ways, too. In addition, it tastes like a muffin–AND A DOUGHNUT. And if we’re getting nerdily specific, well….it’s not technically a muffin. It’s really a cupcake.

By culinary definition, the difference between a muffin and a cupcake is all in the mixing method. Muffins are made by stirring together–usually by hand–sifted dry ingredients (flour, baking powder/soda, salt, dry spices) and the combined liquid ingredients (eggs, oil/melted butter, sugar–yes sugar counts as a liquid with the Muffin Method) in one step. Cakes of the “cup” variety are often made with the Creaming Method, where the recipe preparation begins by creaming butter and sugar together–such is the case with this alleged Nutmeg Doughnut “Muffin”. But whatever–bottom line, it just feels so much better to tell yourself you’re eating a “muffin” at 10:00 a.m. . I am quite the enabler, aren’t I? Bwahahaha.

Nutmeg Doughnut “Muffins”

Adapted from Orangette and Kathleen Stewart

Makes 12

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg (if you’re using, um, not freshly grated, just add a smidge more)
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 ½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs

For the big finish:
4 – 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ – 2 cups powdered sugar OR 1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a standard-size muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg, no need to sift. Whisk thoroughly and set aside.

Combine the milk and the buttermilk in a measuring cup, and set this aside, too.

Start by creaming the butter in a standing mixer at medium speed with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, until soft and creamy. Add the sugar in a steady stream and continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the mixture increases in volume and gets pale, like frosting. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they are just combined.

With a wooden spoon, mix ¼ of the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Add 1/3 of the milk mixture. Continue to add the dry and wet ingredients alternately, ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until the batter is smooth and well combined, but don’t overmix. Divide the batter between the cups of the muffin tin. A standard ice cream scoop is genius for this task. Bake until they are just turning golden, are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-32 minutes.

When the alleged “muffins” are cool enough to handle, Get the melted butter ready, and pour the powdered sugar into a big food storage bag (less mess than using a bowl). Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the entire outside of each with melted butter, and then immediately roll it in the powdered sugar.

Like most baked goods, these are best on the day that they’re made, but thanks to their protective sugar coating, they are still really good on the second day. If you want to make them ahead, this batter keeps well–covered and chilled, of course, for up to three days.

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