Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts
Something sweet is a special thing. People have written about the psychology behind it, actually: how baking for others can bring out this sort of perpetual joy in the baker, how the receiver can feel valued, loved, cared-for -- or, depending on the something sweet, he or she can be taken right back to some beautiful, treasured memory... and I just now realized that I'm describing to you the entire plot of Ratatouille. (Even though the ratatouille wasn't something sweet, you get the idea.)
That's how it is for me with baking, from both sides. From the receiving side, though, there are certain foods -- tastes and smells -- that take me somewhere, and typically, the food isn't even something special to begin with: a bagel, a chocolate milkshake, spaghetti sauce, a sugar doughnut.
There's this place on Nantucket Island called Downyflake. They make the most epic sugar donuts. I know because I grew up visiting my grandmother, Geema, at her cottage called "Dry Dock," and my brothers, cousins and I would sit on her porch with popsicles, chase bunnies around with beach towels, watch our parents fry fresh bluefish, and peel paint off of the ceiling while lying in our bunk beds. Geema would scold us the next morning, and then we'd do it all over again. When we weren't at Dry Dock, we were boogie-boarding at Surfside, waiting in line for ice cream at The Juice Bar, ordering loaves of Portuguese bread from Something Natural, and.... eating bags of sugar doughnuts from Downyflake. BAGS. Sometimes, we would bring the doughnuts to the beach, and they were so completely coated in sugar that it didn't really matter if you dropped one in the sand. Isn't it funny that almost all of my childhood memories in my most favorite places revolve around food? I think many people can relate.
In any case, every summer, I find myself with a serious craving for a warm Downyflake doughnut. It's not exactly easy to get to Nantucket, and the closest I've found is at the bakery on top of Pike's Peak (also not an easy destination), so I felt I had no choice but to make my own.
...And they turned out pretty darn well. I won't say they're just as good as Downyflake's, because they're not, but they satisfied my craving for a warm, sugary, sweet doughnut -- and the whole recipe will cost you no more than an hour of your time. If you're looking for the perfect fried doughnut recipe, so am I, and I'll be back here once I found it. Until then, these baked babies are the easy runner-up!
Baked Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts
Prep time: 20 minutes | Bake time: 10 minutes | Yield: 9 large donuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
For the topping:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Preheat oven to 365 F (yes, you read that right). Grease a 9-hole donut pan with baking spray and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt until combined. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until well-combined, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla and beat for another 10 seconds.
Add half the flour, then half the milk, beating after each addition. Repeat with the rest of the flour and milk, and beat until just combined. Batter will be nice and thick.
Using a spoon (this is the messy and annoying method) or a pastry bag (this is the clean and easy method), fill each donut mold with batter about 3/4 full. Transfer to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the doughnuts have risen and are brown around the edges.
While doughnuts are baking, make the cinnamon sugar topping: combine cinnamon and sugar in one bowl, and have your melted butter ready in another. As soon as doughnuts finished baking, carefully remove them from the pan and dip into the melted butter, then roll in cinnamon sugar. EAT WARM!