You know how everyone and their mother (us included) recommend you read a recipe in its entirety before starting? Well, I did skim Five and Spice’s Cinnamon Sugar Breakfast Puffers recipe. I knew what ingredients I needed and what steps I had to take. But I didn’t bother with the headnote and I didn’t think through the recipe. Five and Spice, I’m sorry. You and your puffers deserve better.
I knew enough to set aside time for browning melted butter to give the batter a nuttier flavor.
And Anjali preheated the oven and buttered the muffin tin. But here, my friends, is where confusion set in. The word puffer, to me, suggests sweet rounds of light, eggy dough ballooning with hot air, but a muffin tin does not a round doughnut make. To make matters worse, the batter, although sweet and buttery with a little hit of citrus in the form of Meyer lemon zest, was too dense to inspire confidence. Would it even puff? Doubtful. Best-case scenario, it might attempt to rise and emerge a thick half-muffin.
We soldiered on: melting the butter and prepping the cinnamon sugar for dunking. 18 minutes in the oven and, as we suspected, out came 12 stunted muffins. Having come so far, we went ahead and dunked them hot in the butter and rolled them in cinnamon sugar until our fingers were greasy and gritty with warm sweetness. That part was fun.
Dismayed by their hunky appearance, I chewed on a test puffer without paying it much attention. In fact, I did so while running out to the garage to grab a juicer for making OJ. It was there in the yard, hands full of equipment, mouth full of puffer and with, I’m sure, a little cinnamon on my chin, that I actually got it. Maybe your grandmother didn’t bring you fresh-baked spice doughnuts wrapped in steam-damp cellophane from the local Jewel, but mine did and I know you would have loved them too. There are 15 years of food memories to cross, so I can’t be sure, but these little cake bombs of cinnamon sugar joy taste stunningly familiar.
Word to the wise: don’t tear up thinking of your grandmother when you’ve got cinnamon sugar sticking to your fingers.
In the headnote I failed to read, Five and Spice describes these as “a hybrid of spice cake, muffins, and cinnamon sugar donut holes.” Accurate and totally tantalizing. So forget the puff part and eat these sturdy darlings hot with coffee or tea. You’ll love them. Recipe found here.