When I was little, I was very sure that my dolls were alive. While I was in my room, they looked past me with vacant but friendly eyes. As soon as I left the room, though, I knew they danced and played and sang, but were always able to get back in place before I returned. I would make a lot of noise as I was walking down the hall so they had ample warning (I didn’t want to embarrass them by catching them in the act). I was a sensitive child and didn’t want my dolls to feel like I favored one over the other, so I made sure to give them all equal play time. As an adult, I carry this silly practice over to other inanimate objects. I will wear a shirt that I don’t particularly like because I haven’t worn it for a while and don’t want the shirt to feel left out. I regularly rotate my bedding, so that “no sheets are left behind.” If I notice that I haven’t worn a lipstick in a while, I’ll find an outfit to wear with it, even if the color is so last season. I know I’m being ridiculous, but I can’t help it.
About a year ago, Kirsten and I were talking about making donuts and she gave me a Wilton donut pan. I had never made donuts before and was excited to experiment, but I got busy and never made them. I have felt bad ever since. I only have kitchen gadgets I will actually use for this very reason. You won’t see me with a Ms. Tea iced tea maker or a sous-vide machine.
Lately, I’ll be cooking something in the kitchen and that guilty feeling will start to creep in. I think about the donut pan in the dark cabinet, glum with neglect, and promise myself that I will make donuts on the weekend…and then plans accumulate and another donutless weekend ensues. To me, the donut pan is like Harry Potter in his cupboard under the stairs and I am Petunia Dursley.
Then, as if delivered by Hedwig herself, a recipe arrived in my inbox for cinnamon donuts and my resolve was set. They are as easy to make as pancakes, and you bake them, so they are healthier than their fried cousins. Friends, the smell of freshly ground nutmeg and cinnamon that filled the house was extraordinary, and hot donuts dipped in melted butter and cinnamon sugar—a revelation! How could I not have made these sooner? Aaron ate four donuts immediately, which was a good sign that I had a winner. And the best part is that I was able to give some to my neighbor and some to our dinner guests that night and STILL have extra batter in the fridge, so I could make more donuts on Sunday to enjoy with a pot of hot coffee, the newspaper, and a snoring pug in my lap.
Now that I’ve liberated the donut pan, I’m sure it comes out to party with all my dolls and slightly worn shirts as soon as I leave the house. I might be a Muggle, but I still believe in magic. Expecto delicioso!
Stuff Worthy Of Our Notice™ in this post:
BAKED CINNAMON DONUTS
(adapted from Barefoot Contessa Foolproof by Ina Garten)
2 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting the pan)
1½ cups sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1¼ cups whole milk
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a donut pan (such as the Wilton 6-Cavity Doughnut Pan) with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with flour. Tap out excess flour (you can also use a spray that contains flour, such as Baker’s Joy).
In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, melted butter and vanilla. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined. Spoon the batter into the baking pan, filling each cavity three quarters full.
For the topping, combine the sugar and cinnamon in one small bowl and the melted butter in another. Dip each donut into the melted butter and then swirl around in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Makes about 18 donuts.
Any unused batter can be put in the refrigerator with a cover and made the next day.
In addition to the company’s website, you can purchase a Wilton donut pan from a variety of retailers, including Amazon, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Jo-Ann, Michaels, and Walmart. Barefoot Contessa Foolproof is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.