“Good morning!” I chirped as I stepped off the trail to let an older gentleman coming toward me pass. “It sure is,” he smiled in his heavy Texan accent, “I just hope it doesn’t rain.” I winced internally, but reciprocated the smile and reminded him that the rains in our Colorado mountains are what make the trees and flowers so beautiful and the streams and lakes vibrant. “Well, I just hope it doesn’t rain until AFTER I finish my hike,” he chuckled. I wished him well and continued on my way. Earlier last week we had a nice pattern of unstable weather. It wasn’t the typical summer afternoon thunderstorm cycle, but tumultuous clouds that marched across the valley delivering lightning and heavy rain one minute followed by sunshine and clear skies, then back to the storminess – all this before 9 am!
mammatus clouds overhead
dark storms, rain, and a rainbow
I love rain in summer. I say in summer because springtime rains in the high country kill the snow pack and autumn rains can bring about an abrupt end to the fall colors. Summer rains feed the mountains and keep the dust down on the trails and backcountry roads. Jeremy and I have a great appreciation for cloud cover when we are outside, which is often.
paddling with jeremy and our friend and her two girls (so cute!)
beautiful morning for a ride
And of course, another reason I love the rains is because they bring the mushrooms. While I’ve been watching a variety of mushrooms flush in the last week, I hadn’t seen any of the mushrooms I was specifically seeking – those I eat. You have to give these things time… and rain… and sun. My patience paid off this weekend in the form of chanterelles and aspen oyster mushrooms. There are several steps to foraging mushrooms: finding them, photographing them (optional, but not really), harvesting them, cleaning them, cooking them, and finally, eating them. I like finding and photographing. Jeremy likes finding and eating. That leaves me with all the in-between steps which is why I will sometimes give a bag of foraged mushrooms to a friend rather than deal with all of the cleaning myself.
let’s get this (chanterelle) party started!
jeremy holds some of the day’s haul as neva looks on (she’s looking for a treat)
beautiful aspen oyster mushrooms growing off a dead aspen log
I’m so happy that the mushroom season wasn’t a bust, just later than last year. I can live with that. In celebration, let’s make some doughnuts. Let’s make boozy doughnuts! I don’t feel compelled to make fried doughnuts all that often because of the frying aspect. That’s not the case with baked doughnuts. Because I purchased specific equipment – the doughnut pans – I’m always on the lookout for a good baked doughnut recipe. I like baked doughnuts because they are easier to make and clean up as well as healthier than fried doughnuts (a low bar, I know). Thing is, baked doughnuts have the texture of cupcakes which is too light and fluffy for my tastes. I did some research this past spring on denser texture baked doughnuts. After a lot of trial and error (not quite there on a dense chocolate baked doughnut – but please share if you have a favorite), I landed on a brilliant recipe from King Arthur Flour’s website for doughnut muffins. Yes, it’s for muffins that taste like doughnuts. I just took the doughnut muffin recipe and made… doughnuts.
vanilla paste, confectioner’s sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, eggs, salt, butter, milk, sugar, brown sugar, flour, bourbon
butter the pans
cream together the butter, oil, and sugars
beat in the eggs
You can make regular doughnuts or mini doughnuts. I made both since I had enough batter to fill two of each type of pan. My mini doughnuts are 12 to a pan. Since doughnuts and muffins bake quickly and are relatively small, I didn’t adjust the leavening for my altitude at all.
add the leavenings, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla paste
beat in a third of the flour
add half of the milk (then flour, milk, and finish with flour)
The batter will be thick, but still liquid enough to run. I find it easiest to pipe the batter into the doughnut pans, especially the minis. Take care not to fill each doughnut cup more than 1/4-inch from the top lest you lose the doughnut hole and wind up with something akin to a mini bundt (which tastes just fine if aesthetics aren’t your concern). Baking requires a little monitoring the first time around because pans are different, ovens are different, and your doughnuts deserve your attention. I go for a top that bounces back after you lightly press on it, and a golden bottom which means you’ll have to lift one out to check the color. Of course, the toothpick trick (stick it in and make sure it comes out free of gooey batter) is another good test for doneness.
pipe batter into the pans
regulars and minis
While the doughnuts cool, make the glaze. You can put almost any kind of glaze on these doughnuts because they’re a simple vanilla doughnut. If you prefer cinnamon sugar, then pop the doughnuts out while they are still warm and shake them in a bag of cinnamon sugar (1 tbsp cinnamon to 3 tbsps sugar). If you want powdered sugar doughnuts, let them cool and then shake the doughnuts in a bag of powdered sugar. But this bourbon glaze is quite good and makes for extra jazzy doughnuts.
combine bourbon, salt, and powdered sugar
stir in the vanilla bean paste (or extract)
whisk together until smooth
Popping the doughnuts out is relatively simple, but sometimes they can stick to the pan. I found a good way to ensure a clean release is to give each doughnut a quarter turn in its pan hole about a minute or two after it comes out of the oven. I use my fingers, but take care not to burn your finger tips! Give the glaze a stir to break up any crust that forms, and glaze each doughnut by dipping the bottom half into the glaze and setting the doughnut on the cooling rack, glazed-side up. I dip the bottom of the doughnut because that has the best defined “hole”.
cool the doughnuts
let the glaze set
These doughnut muffin doughnuts are by far the best texture of any baked doughnuts I’ve made to date. I did tweak the recipe here and there using buttermilk or sour cream in place of the milk and reducing the batter by an egg, but they all seemed to taste great and hold up well. The flavor is top notch, too. You can use the doughnut muffin doughnut recipe as a base for mixing in other ingredients (dried fruit, chopped nuts, chocolate, etc.). These aren’t replacing fried cake doughnuts, but they are a step in the right direction and all of my recipients loved them.
mini baked doughnuts reduce the guilt
two or three won’t hurt…
mmm, boozy bourbony glaze
in the name of doughnut research
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
3-4 oz. bourbon
1/4 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter the doughnut pans. Cream the butter, oil, sugar, and brown sugar together until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Stir the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla into the batter. Stir in 1 cup of flour, then stir in 1/2 cup of milk, then stir in another cup of flour, then stir in the remaining milk. Finish the batter with the remaining flour (about 2/3 cup). Fill the doughnut pans to 1/4-inch below the rim. I find using a piping bag with a 1/2-inch plain tip makes this task easier to manage. Bake regular doughnuts for 15-17 minutes or until the tops are set and the bottoms are golden. Bake mini doughnuts for 12-13 minutes.
Make the glaze: Combine all ingredients until smooth.
When the doughnuts have cooled, dip the top of each doughnut into the glaze and set glazed-side up on a cooling rack. The bourbon in the glaze is strongest just after dipping. Makes 24 large doughnuts or 96 mini doughnuts.
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