I like doughnuts. A lot. I like plain doughnuts, iced doughnuts, sugared doughnuts, dipped doughnuts, fresh doughnuts, supermarket doughnuts, well you get the idea (no sprinkles though, bleh). I can eat doughnuts like some eat potato chips and I'm willing to throw down with Homer Simpson any day. It's for this reason that I rarely eat doughnuts. You see, I have grown somewhat accustomed to being able to see my feet without the use of a reflective surface. Because of this, the idea of a baked doughnut is instantly appealing. As well, making real doughnuts requires being around a lot of hot oil, which would likely bestow a future of bad Christmas sweaters and a glove with knives.
Speaking of Christmas (see what I did there :)? ), ginger is one of those flavours that you kind of forget about until Christmas and then suddenly you can't get enough (last year I scarfed the high heaven out of the gingerbread cookies my cousin made :) ). And being the Christmas season, I had a craving for ginger. However, I didn't feel like making cookies and I couldn't find a ginger cake recipe that excited me. I figured the next best thing was to add some ginger to these doughnuts, replacing the cinnamon. I also felt that since the recipe didn't already include vanilla it was a good opportunity to use up some of my homemade vanilla sugar. Granted, I thought that ¾ cup seemed like a bit too much, so I reduced the amount as well.
Wanting to stay a bit healthier, instead of finishing the muffins with the butter dip and cinnamon-sugar topping I simply dusted them with powdered sugar. I figured that if I don't need it, I won't add it, and I won't know if I need it until I've removed it. The only problem with this is that without the butter to adhere to, the sugar has a tendency to brush off. Honestly though, fresh and warm out of the oven, you won't care. These suckers taste very much like a plain cake doughnut. The flavour of the ginger was noticeable but not overpowering. Next time I will definitely add more, as well as some extra nutmeg. The sweetness was definitely where I like it and I think the addition of the vanilla sugar (or vanilla in general) aided greatly in making them taste like real doughnuts. However, you do kind of notice that something is missing, it's difficult to explain exactly what, but this would likely be remedied with the butter cinnamon-sugar topping. As an aside: the first one I ate seemed to have the slight taste of flour. This may be rectified by leaving the sugar at ¾ cup or reducing the flour by ¼ cup, I'm not sure. It is entirely possible that I imagined it, since I only noticed it once.
Unfortunately, unlike a lot of muffins these ones aren't nearly as good the next day. Once they've cooled the subtle flavour of the ginger and nutmeg is lost. It still tastes like a doughnut, but you definitely notice that it's not fried. It's almost bland in a way. The butter sugar topping probably hides this, but do you really want the taste of a cool butter glaze? It doesn't taste too good on my popcorn.
Ultimately my suggestion is to eat the entire batch of these muffins while they're still warm. This is when they are at their best. I know, it's a tough requirement. Sometimes you gotta grit your teeth and just do it :). In order to help this endeavour, you might try washing down the first batch with a second, much larger, batch :).
Baked Ginger Doughnut-Muffins
Adapted from SugarcrafterYields approx 30 mini muffins
1 ¾ cup all purpose flour (228g)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp ginger – next time I would increase to ¾ - 1 tsp
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp nutmeg – next time I would increase to ½ tsp, as in original recipe
1/2 cup vanilla sugar (100g) – alternatively add ½ tsp of vanilla to wet ingredients
¾ cup milk -- I use 1%
1/3 cup canola oil -- or any neutral vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 – 2 tbsp of powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350F and grease a mini muffin tin (these muffins don't need paper liners, they honestly just fell out of my muffin cups).
In a medium bowl add flour, baking powder, ginger, salt and nutmeg. Whisk to combine.
In another medium bowl add oil and sugar, and stir to combine. Add egg and milk and mix to combine completely.
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix together until just combined.
Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin, filling each muffin cup ¾ full.
Bake on centre rack for 15 to 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean (mine took 15 minutes).
Allow to cool in tin on rack for 5 minutes before removing and dusting with powdered sugar (or just dump and eat :) ).
The original butter cinnamon-sugar topping can be found with the original recipe. I would definitely consider it :).