Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sinner Man

Honestly, it's only a quirk of geography that keeps me from becoming a big, fat slob. Meaning, it's simply not convenient to find lots of sinful things to eat when one lives in the middle of the woods. True, I have made do with a handful of unsweetened chocolate chips or even a swig of maple syrup chugged straight out of the jug (oh, please, like you haven't?), and I intentionally don't bring things home from the store because I gorge--just can’t have 'em in the house. Especially with all those single-serving containers they have these days: a pint of ice cream, a 24-ounce bag of Peanut M&Ms, a box of a dozen donuts. So handy! My self-control at leaving things on the shelf at the store surprises me.

When I go in to the city, therefore, I tend to treat it Ike I'm on vacation and allow myself a little more leeway. I justify it by acknowledging I'm sampling things I can't get at home, so why not? But there times, like yesterday, when it seems I have no restraint at all. I try, but there’s little devil on my shoulder. He holds a rolling pin, not a pitch fork, and wears a toque over his horns, but, still, he’s a demon.

I passed a bakery in SoHo yesterday morning and thought I'd indulge in a cheese Danish. So good! A few blocks down the street, while I was still licking the powdered sugar from my fingers (no kidding!), I espied a sweet little patisserie across the street. Oh, just a coffee would be nice, I thought. I can sit there and read a bit. As you can see from the photo above, that was not to be. Fall From Grace Exhibit A: the crumbs of an almond croissant. So, so good! The java warn't too bad, neither.

Oh, well. An extra fifteen minutes on the treadmill this morning along with this confessional blog entry should be a start at atoning for my bakery sins. Sort of literary self-flagellation.

In the meantime, as long as we're discussing baked goods, here's a favorite recipe from my childhood. Cinnamon sugar muffins. It's from Mom's first cookbook (Betty Crocker, currently in my collection) when she got married and I remember her making them on medium-special occasions, because, although delicious, they're not fancy. I loved them when I was a kid and I still do. In the cookbook they're called French Breakfast Puffs. At Sweet Inspiration bakery in San Francisco they make a jumbo version called Dirt Bombs. Even as  kid I sensed they were somehow superior to your run-of-the-mill muffin, although I could never put my finger on why. I see now: while shaped like a muffin and baked like a muffin, they more resemble a cinnamon sugar cake donut, even with a bit of a crust. The bakery in SF dips the entire muffin in melted butter and rolls them in cinnamon and sugar, not just the tops. I have to confess I like them even more that way. Of course, you could dip a Styrofoam® ball in butter and roll it in cinnamon and sugar and I’d wolf it down, but still... 

More than anything, it's the nutmeg that gives them a certain I don’t know what.

Here's the recipe, complete with the chatty little aside from the Betty Crocker editors.

French Breakfast Puffs
Like delicate, glorified doughnuts. Miss Exaline Beauregard of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, said “Please try my mother’s recipe.”

Mix thoroughly...
1/3 cup soft shortening (part butter)
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg

Sift together...
1 1/2 cups sifted GOLD MEDAL flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/3 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Stir in alternately with...
1/2 cup milk

Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full Bake until golden brown. Immediately dip crowns in...
6 tbsp. butter, melted
then in mixture of...
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

Serve hot.

Temperature: 350ยบ (mod. oven)
Time: Bake 20 to 25 min.
Amount: 12 med. muffins

1 comment:

  1. okay - that cookbook rocks - and contains the single best pancake recipe ever - which is even healthy.... Oatmeal buttermilk pancakes....