Muffins With the Soul of a Donut


If you live in New York and are suffering through the oppressive heat, turn away from the screen right now and bookmark this post for a rainy (and cold) day. I actually made these muffins over a month ago (when the temperature was sub-90 degrees) and turning the oven on was not a completely crazy idea. I have been planning to post about them ever since, so chalk this up to a case of bad timing. For a recipe more appropriate to the current weather, try this.

I first discovered "Kathleen's Doughnut Muffins" (a recipe from The Jimtown Store Cookbook) on 101 Cookbooks, when Heidi wrote about them back in August 2003. Although I owned the cookbook, I never got around to trying to make the muffins until we threw a brunch for my wife's birthday in June.

I'm glad I finally did.

The sweet treats are neither muffin nor donut, but something in between. They have the texture of a cake donut without all of the mess involved in deep-frying. As authors Carrie Brown, John Werner, and Michael McLaughlin put it in their introduction to the recipe, they "have the soul of a doughnut and the body of a muffin."

Kitchen Notes: I was a little worried that I had screwed up when I first removed the muffins from the oven. They looked incredibly bland and boring. But, as I brushed each with a coat of warm, melted butter, the color deepened, and the cinnamon-sugar mixture adhered beautifully. Stick to the recipe and everything should turn out fine.

Kathleen's Doughnut Muffins
by Carrie Brown, John Werner, and Michael McLaughlin
from The Jimtown Store Cookbook (HarperCollins)

Makes 24 muffins

6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs

Muffin Coating
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted

1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and lightly flour the cups of two standard muffin tins (12 muffins each).

2. For the muffins, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Mix together the milk and buttermilk.

3. In the bowl of a standing mixer using the paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a handheld mixer on medium speed, cream the butter. Gradually mix in the sugar and beat until the mixture lightens in color and increases in volume. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition no more than necessary to blend. By hand, alternately add the dry ingredients in four additions and the milk in three additions, starting and ending with dry ingredients and mixing no more than necessary to blend after each addition. The batter should be smooth but should not be overmixed.

4. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tins, filling the cups level with about 1/2 cup batter per muffin (at the bakery Kathleen uses a number 16 ice-cream scoop, available in restaurant-supply houses).

5. Bake until the muffins have risen and are firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Let the muffins cool in the tins on a rack for a few minutes.

6. To coat the muffins, in a bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. When the muffins are just cool enough to handle, remove them from the tins. One at a time, brush them, all over with the butter, then roll them in the cinnamon-sugar, covering them thoroughly. Enjoy the muffins immediately or let them stand on a rack until cool.

Recipe reprinted with permission from the publisher.



You know what those remind me of? Malassadas, portuguese fried donuts. Malassadas have the essence of a sugar donut without the hole and with a lot more substance. If you have an portuguese bakeries nearby, you should try it! :)


That's a wonderful cookbook. Next time, try the Fig and Black Olive Tapenade. It's great too!


David -- It is a good cookbook, but I need to try more of the recipes. I can vouch for the coleslaw recipe that it's excellent. Have to try the tapenade -- sounds like the right thing in this weather.

Justin -- I've had those in Hawaii. They were amazing.


This is just perfect. I was just commenting on Lobstersquad about how I hate deep frying but really adore donuts. This recipe is a great compromise. Thanks for sharing it.


omg, I bought that cookbook because of Heidi's photo of those muffins! I googled and googled but no one had published the recipe! I have not tried them yet but you have renewed my interest -


They make these muffins in East Orleans, Cape Cod at a market that used to be called Fancy's Farm (which I love) but is now called something much more pedestrian. In any case, I discovered them there a good five years ago and it is part of my Cape Cod ritual to always eat them when I'm out there. They call them "French Donut Muffins." Fancy!


Call me silly, but I actually thought the muffins were hollow inside because the title of the blog says that this Muffin has the soul of a donut.

This is a good alternative for those who want to have a donut experience, but cannot swallow anything that has been bathed from cooking oil.

And by the description of these muffins, I think one would really have a good donut experience even without the hole.


Let's not delude ourselves, people. These may not be deep fried, but 4 sticks of butter in 24 muffins?!? They have their fair share of fat. Enjoy!


Oh, they're just as fattening (if not more), plus they contain cholesterol! However, they're just a little less messy to cook, though your fingers do end up getting covered in butter.


I just made these. I think they are good, but not spectacular. I probably won't bother making them again.


Just baked a dozen of these for my children! I changed the recipe to make it healthier by substituting butter with applesauce and adding 2 Tbsp. of wheat germ. They just gobbled them up. Plus you can change the toppings with sprinkles, powdered sugar, etc. Use your imagination!


I was so excited to try these but they turned out somewhat plain. I was expecting a little more donut flavor and they really just tasted like plain muffins rolled in cinnamon sugar, and I added cinnamon to the batter in addition to the nutmeg which I couldn't really taste. Next time I would add vanilla or as you suggested some citrus flavoring.


Bless you for posting this! I needed a napkin to wipe the drool from my mouth after looking at the picture above. These are amazingly tasty and I plan on making this a special thing i do with my 3 year old on the first Sunday of every month! Thank you for posting!!


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