My spring fever was short-lived when our daughter, Erin, telephoned this morning to tell me she had received an email from the editor of Brain, Child magazine and Kelly's essay, "This Sucks," which appeared in the Spring 2010 issue has won a Pushcart Prize, a very prestigious award in the literary world. As proud we all are that she has receive this award, it saddens us to know she's not here to tell us herself. Although, maybe with this glorious day in front of me, she is.
I made these muffins this morning because baking grounds me and trying to come up with a recipe that would have been celebratory for Kelly kept my mind off losing her, as she would put it, sucks. Jelly doughnuts, to me, represent springtime and it reminds me of a Polish dessert called Paczki (pronounced Poonshkee). These jelly doughnut-like pastries are typically made for Shrove Thursday...the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, but in Chicago, where there is a large Polish population, you can also find them on Shrove (or Fat) Tuesday. The pastries, like doughnuts, are filled with fruit or creme and can be glazed or covered with granulated sugar or confectioners' sugar as I did mine this morning. A very dear friend sent me some Paczki from a bakery in her town and they were delicious--light, airy and filled with fruit fillings. I tried to make these light, but still able to be baked rather than fried and filled them with some homemade jam...raspberry, which was Kelly's favorite. However, when I make them for her son, Ari, I know he's going to say, "Mimi, I want blueberry!"
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. Buttery Sweet Dough Emulsion
2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 1/2 cups Cake Flour
1 1/2 cups All-purpose Flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup Evaporated milk
3/4 to 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 favorite jam or jelly
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar or Glazing Sugar (like confectioners' sugar without the cornstarch)
Preheat oven 375F-degrees (Convection) and prepare a standard 12-cup muffin pan by brushing melted butter in the cups.
In a large mixing bowl of a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the sour cream, vanilla, and Buttery Sweet Dough emulsion, if using, and beat well. Combine the dry ingredients, then, add them to the batter, alternately with the evaporated milk, ending with the dry ingredients. Mix on low until ingredients are incorporated, then raise the speed to medium for one minute.
Use a large scoop and divide the batter among the muffin cups.
Bake the muffins for 20-24 minutes, if using convection heat. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan while you melt the additional butter.
Transfer the melted butter to a glass bowl. Dip the top and then the bottom of the muffin in the butter and place on a cooling rack.
When all of the muffins have been thoroughly dipped. Prepare a pastry bag, using Tip #230 for piping the jam (or jelly) into the center of the muffin. This tip is also used to fill cream puffs and eclairs!
Let the butter set a 5 minutes and prepare a dish with the confectioners' sugar (or Glazing Sugar). Use a spoon to dust the sugar over the doughnut muffins.
Last week, I saw on Facebook, a comment by a Buddist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh on the tsunami that had occurred in Japan. Today, a dear friend of Kelly's and now, mine, reminded me of his words...
"An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what's most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: we can live in such a way that they continue beautifully, in us."
What powerful words to live by and cherish as I re-read Kelly's essay and had a bite of spring. Enjoy!