"I suppose this is what I mean when I say we cannot possibly know what will manifest in our lives. We live and have experiences and leave people we love and get left by them. People we thought would be with us forever aren't and people we didn't know would come into our lives do. Our work here is to keep faith with that, to put it in a box and wait. To trust that someday we will know what it means, so that when the ordinary miraculous is revealed to us we will be there ... grateful for the smallest things." ~ Cheryl Strayed
That quote really is a kick in the pants, isn't it? (By the way, if you haven't read any Cheryl Strayed, by all means you have my permission to leave this blog immediately and go get your hands on her books.) Of course she's right. And now that I've gotten a year older, ahem, I'm finally starting to understand what she means. In my late twenties, I would have been: Whatever. I'm sad, leave me be. In my thirties I was almost there, but not quite. But now that I find myself firmly planted in my forties, I see the wisdom in the leaving and being left behind. The down-right necessity of faith. That holding on means just that. Hold on. You never know what will manifest in your life. One day it will all make sense. Each experience means something. You'll be grateful for all of the bumps in the road that landed you where you need to be today.
My birthday is when the year really begins for me. No doubt it has something to do with the earth being turned over and the possibility of growth on the horizon. It's a new beginning, and I'm down with that. Every year there's a rebirth, which just so happens to be the meaning behind my name. Coincidence or careful consideration by my parents? Probably a little of both. I never make new year's resolutions, but my birthday is different. I tend to set goals, intentions. I send out whispers of hopes and dreams to the universe, crossing my fingers she's listening. As the sun shines longer and the birds sing louder, and the buds think about blooming, I'm grateful for these days; these small things.
Birthdays are all about treating yo self, and this year I decided to do it up with a batch of doughnuts, giving my doughnut pan a trial run. To be honest, I'd never eaten a baked doughnut before, and I have to say these are pretty darn good. They will remind you of a cake doughnut, with a bit of a crackly edge and a tender crumb. You do lose some of the flavour that the deep-fried action creates, but you save on calories and fat. And you don't risk getting splattered by drops of flaming hot oil. This process is painless, I promise. Just a quick batter, scoop the mixture into a piping bag, and bake for about 10 minutes. Did you hear that? Doughnuts in 10 minutes!
At first I wanted to finish them all in a chocolate glaze with sprinkles, but in typical Renee fashion, I was running out of time before friends were due to arrive. Now, this recipe makes about 18 doughnuts and I certainly do not need 18 doughnuts in the house where I live by myself. I wanted to share the doughnut love with my friends, so a quick dusting of powdered sugar is what happened to half the batch, and the next day when I had a free moment I glazed the other batch in dark chocolate. Verdict: both were delicious. The doughnut itself is not very sweet, and lends itself well to both decorative applications. Also, I think this is the first time sprinkles have appeared on the blog. And it won't be the last! Just look how adorable they are. Befitting for a birthday, whether you are 14 or 41.
Baked Doughnuts Two Ways
I was quite happy this recipe called for cake flour, as I had a bag of it in my freezer from way back when I made this cake. It was still fine! A bit of rye flour is added for depth, but if you don't feel like buying a bag, no big deal, use all cake flour. I increased the buttermilk from the original recipe as I thought it could use a bit more moisture in the overall product.
3 cups cake flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup cane sugar or granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg or cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tbsp honey
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
powdered sugar, for garnish
sprinkles, for garnish
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease your doughnut pan with butter. Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, eggs, honey and butter in another. Pour the wet into the dry and stir just until combined. Scoop mixture into piping bag and pipe into pan, filling it 3/4 full. Bake for 10 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes then place on cooling rack. Proceed with rest of batter, being sure to grease pan between batches. Makes about 18 doughnuts. Either dust with powdered sugar, or dip in this glaze:
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp butter
Place all ingredients in small saucepan and place over low heat. Stir until melted and smooth.
Pour into shallow dish and dip each doughnut in glaze. Don't forget the sprinkles. Recipe adapted from Baking Society and Sweet Paul