Alice: "Do you want to bake something and come meet us at the park?"
Me: "Sure. I can probably have something ready within a half hour."
Alice: "What would be good on this cold and blustery day?"
Me: "Warm muffins."
Alice: "Oh, yes. Something muffiny would be great."
Me: "Pumpkin? Apple? Banana-Nut?"
Me: "Or I could make muffins that taste just like donuts with sugar on top."
Alice: "YES. THOSE."
I am quite sure that the idea of a muffin that doubles as a donut is an idea that appeals to almost everybody. Few people don't enjoy the special sweet taste that a donut has and the unarguable comfort of a warm homemade muffin. I was first introduced to this idea quite a few years ago. I was vegan back then and had a couple failed attempts at making my own, resulting in muffins that were terribly heavy and quite un-donutlike. It wasn't until today that I decided to try again, using a recipe from Molly of Orangette. And this time, as I was slathering the right-outta-the-oven warm muffins in butter and dipping them in powdered sugar, I knew, damn, these are going to be good.
And so we sat on the steps of Piccolo Park, happily enjoying our donut muffins while trying to keep our sugar-loving kids from eating the entire batch. We were aware of the yearning looks of onlookers, mainly children, who wished that they too could be sporting the powdered sugar moustaches that we had so deliciously acquired.
Donut Muffins: adapted from Orangette
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon white or apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2-2 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a standard-size muffin tin with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg, and whisk to mix them thoroughly. Set aside.
Combine the milk and the vinegar in a measuring cup, and set aside.
Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or, alternatively, in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters nearby), and beat on medium speed for a few seconds, until the butter is soft and creamy. With the motor running, add the sugar in a steady stream. Continue beating, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice, until the mixture increases in volume and lightens to pale yellow. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until they are just combined.
With a wooden spoon, mix 1/4 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 dries. Mix until the dough is smooth and well combined, but do not overmix.
Divide the batter between the cups of the muffin tin. Bake until the muffins are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-32 minutes.
When the muffins are cool enough to handle, prepare the topping: melt the butter in the microwave or on the stovetop, and pour the powdered sugar into a deep bowl. Using a pastry brush and working one muffin at a time, lightly brush the entire outside of the muffin with butter, and then roll it in the powdered sugar. Shake off any excess, and place the finished muffins on a rack or serving platter. Serve.