I think we can all think of a couple of foods we wish we could eat all the time in a consequence-free environment. For me, one of those foods would be doughnuts.
There is a particularly fragrant doughnut shop on Mission Street where I’ve been know to just sort of linger outside the door and sniff the air. My favorite SF shop is Bob’s on Polk Street. From Thursday through Saturday, after 6 p.m. they make fresh doughnuts and they are melt-in-your-mouth amazing.
So here we are in October and pumpkins are everywhere, and I just felt compelled to do something with them. These little doughnuts have a hint of pumpkin and the spices you typically find in pumpkin pie, and it all comes together to give you the sense memory of pumpkin-y things without an enormous hit of orange squash.
You have to do the butter and sugar step. If you’re thinking–I’ll make these but I want to go light on the calories or the sugar or whatever–don’t bother. When they come out of the oven they’ll look a little pale and lifeless and unlikely to impress even the most gracious guest. But brush them with butter and bedazzle them with spiced sugar and they suddenly become fabulous. In other words, they’re a treat, and treats should be done properly, otherwise what’s the point?
About doughnut pans…
I don’t know how a miniature doughnut pan wound up in my cupboard. Specialty cookware that’s used infrequently just takes up precious space and is never on the top of my list. But there it was. Somehow it got past the guards. You don’t need one. Mini or regular muffin tins work just fine, and instead you will have the equally delicious doughnut muffin.
Mini Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts (makes 24 mini donuts, 12 mini doughnut muffins or 6 regular doughnut muffins)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup (80ml) sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) plain canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 cups (480ml) unbleached white cake flour
1-1/4 teaspoon (6.25ml) baking powder
1/8 teaspoon (.625ml) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
1/2 teaspoon (2.5ml) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) ginger
1/8 teaspoon (.625ml) allspice
1/8 teaspoon (.625ml) nutmeg
1/4 cup (60ml) milk
1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk
For the coating:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) (56g) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (120ml) sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350F/175C degrees.
If you’re not using a non-stick pan, oil and flour the pan.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices together and set aside.
Combine the milk and buttermilk together and set aside.
Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add the pumpkin and mix until well combined.
Add the egg and mix until evenly distributed.
Switch to mixing by hand with a spoon or spatula.
Add the flour and milk mixtures alternately, the flour in four parts, the milk in three, ending with the flour. Make sure you get each addition completely incorporated before adding the next, but do not over-mix.
If using a muffin pan, spoon the batter into the cups, filling them to the rim.
If using a doughnut pan, I found the easiest way to fill it was to use either a pastry bag or a plastic storage bag with a 1-inch (2.5cm) hole. You could try a spoon, but it gets really messy really fast. You want to fill the shapes about halfway. If you use too much batter the doughnuts will develop a muffin top and look like little mushrooms.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. They should be firm to the touch but they will still be quite pale. There might be a little golden brown color on the bottoms but if they’re golden on top you’ve likely cooked them for too long.
While the doughnuts are baking, melt the butter for the topping and combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Let the cooked doughnuts cool in the pan for a few minutes, then turn them out on a plate or wire rack.
Once they’re cool enough to handle, but still warm, brush the entire surface of each doughnut with the butter.
Toss the basted doughnuts in the sugar/cinnamon to coat.
They are best fresh served as soon as possible. If you do try to store them for a day or two, make sure they are completely cool before putting them in an airtight container. If they are warm, or left in a sunny spot, the sugar coating will start to melt and they’ll look like sad little doughnuts that fell in a mud puddle…