Thursday, June 20, 2013

Nomsense (Maple Bacon Buttermilk Doughnuts)

In a recent imessage chat with my friend Laura, I typographically described something as "nomsensical." Never ones to shy from coining new terminology, we agreed to use it to describe delicious but overwrought and unusual items, like deep fried Mars bars and bacon-crusted doughnuts. Hungry to test our new linguistic creation with a culinary counterpart, I settled on the latter for experimentation. Plump, cakey baked doughnuts are a sweet treat that invite any variety of toppings, but there's some breakfast magic to be found in the fusion of smoky bacon and sweet maple syrup. The resulting flavors amplify each other in a harmony so perfect it's nomsensical.

Nomsensically delicious
Fried dough is a miraculously ubiquitous feature across cultures, much like how nearly every society has a version of mermaids or vampires. This makes tracing a clear history or definitive claims of authenticity difficult to pin down. The general consensus seems to be that Dutch immigrants were producing an early version of the doughnut, called the olykoek ("oil cake") since the early 1800s. The well-known ring shape is attributed to sea captain Hansen Gregory in 1847. Some legends claim he was granted the idea from a visiting choir of angels, but it's more likely he realized punching a hole through the middle increases the surface area and prevents a soggy and undercooked center.

Divine intervention?
A trip the local doughnut shop was once my family's special Sunday treat, an offering to sweeten the deal and help tempt my rebellious spirit into morning mass. When I was little, my favorites were always strawberry frosted with rainbow sprinkles, for that tres butch presentation.  While I still wax nostalgic for all things pink and sparkly, your standard commercial doughnut is somewhat lacking. The average over-the-counter doughnut has become all airy and artificial tasting, proving too ephemeral, at least in my mind, to justify the calories. You want to seek out "old-fashioned" or "cake" doughnuts when looking for something more substantial.

The humble nutmeg is part of that old-fashioned depth of flavor
Underscored with the creamy tang of buttermilk and a warm hint of nutmeg, these doughnuts prove solid and dependable, with rich, moist centers and a tender, cake-like crumb. Without the deep frying, they contain only 2 tablespoons of butter in the entire recipe, so while perhaps not a treat for every day, they could also be a lot worse. I like this recipe because it's so much easier than other doughnuts, there's no cutting or frying so you just stir things together, spoon them into the pan, and you're ready to rock.

Resistance is futile
Maple Bacon Buttermilk Doughnuts
recipe adapted from recipe on back of the Wilton doughnut pan package

2 c cake flour
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
3/4 c buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tbs butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Maple glaze (recipe follows)
4 strips crispy bacon, crumbled

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease two doughnut pans with cooking spray.

The batter will be thick and pillowy
In a large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Add buttermilk, vanilla, eggs and butter. Fill each doughnut cup approx. 2/3 full.

Oiled up
Bake 7-9 minutes or until the top of the doughnuts spring back when touched.

Let cool in pan for 4-5 minutes before removing and glazing.

Like so
Maple Glaze 

1 1/4 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c pure maple syrup, up to 1/3 c

In a bowl, combine confectioners' sugar and vanilla. Gradually whisk in enough maple syrup to make a smooth, thick glaze.

Nice and thick
Dip doughnuts into the glaze, fluted side down, and swirl briefly, then set on waxed paper, glaze side up, to dry. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon and serve.

Copyright 2013 GourmetGents

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