This is the Tale of Two Doughnuts, or the story of how the animals created a food experiment. As previously mentioned, the animals and the swans refused to eat industrial doughnuts, either plain or glazed. This started a whole discussion between my editor and me: Would they eat the homemade ones? That was the test, but the money (highly scientific, I know) was on the homemade. I mentioned the Great Experiment to Allison at King Arthur, and the next thing you know, I was sent a link to all their doughnut recipes. I was going to try two types: baked, and fried. I did not currently own a deep fryer, so that becomes another story. One of the first things I noticed was that baked doughnuts are handled a little differently than the fried ones. OK, fair enough, I decided to make a batch of each using two different recipes. As I had mini doughnut pans, the baked doughnuts were the starting point. I even had mace.
If you aren’t familiar with mace, it is the outer “covering” of sorts of the nutmeg. Now nutmeg is no shrinking violet of the spice world, and in my opinion, mace is even spicier. It is also the traditional spice for making doughnuts. You use a very small amount, maybe ¼ teaspoon, but if you’re bold like me, and don’t mind spicy, you can go for ½ teaspoon or more. That might be a bit much for most people though. I always seem to go for the gusto, using the ½ teaspoon.
The recipe was called simply, Baked Doughnuts, and you can access that recipe at: www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/baked-doughnuts-recipe. Amazingly, all I did to this recipe was to switch out the nutmeg for mace. I did use the liquid buttermilk instead of the powdered. After baking in the mini pans, I turned them out and tried them plain first. Hmmm. Spicy. Good, but more like a quick bread, which of course they are. Then I decided to gild the lily. With a pastry brush, I coated one side with melted butter, then dropped that side into cinnamon sugar. Well, now, this was a whole different doughnut. Yum! Of course, this totally defeats the low fat recipe. It was also right about now that the audience around me reminded me that doughnuts aren’t really doughnuts, unless they’re fried. Point taken.
Now for the first stage of the experiment. The swans weren’t handy, so I went for the local wildlife, which consists of Chip-chip the chipmunk, blue jays, crows, blackbirds, among others. I put one doughnut out first. This was in the evening. In the morning, it was gone. If you remember from my previous blog, the industrial doughnut stayed there for a week. So, I decided to repeat the experiment to see if the results would reoccur. I took a few this time and put them out. In less than half an hour, I heard the screech of the blue jay, and saw him scoop up two more. He ate the whole bunch. I tried to get his picture, but he wouldn’t cooperate. Then I took another doughnut, broke it into pieces, and laid that around. I sat and waited. The chipmunk arrived. While not as enthusiastic as the blue jay, he still sat on his haunches and nibbled. I’m still working on getting his picture too. Funny how progression works: I started taking food photos for my blog, and soon I’ll be a wildlife photographer. Well, maybe. Alas, no photos of the mini doughnuts, as they all got eaten (human and animal alike).
Next time: We’re doing some frying!
You can read more of Sue Van Slooten's food adventures at www.suevanslooten.com.