Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A devastating donut distaster

It all started with a Wilton 6-Cavity Donut Pan and some very good, albeit naive, intentions.
I tried to make homemade donuts. Tried being the key word. Online I'd seen countless recipes and reviews raving about the texture, consistency, flavor and downright divine goodness of the oven baked donut. The recipes didn't seem all that challenging. The hardest part of the whole process was finding a donut pan but a trip to a local (and quirky) cooking supply shop remedied that problem. All it took was a twenty minute drive and a twenty dollar bill and I was in possession of my very own Wilton Donut Pan, plus a mini-donut pan perfect for making mini-donuts for little hands and little tummies.
The next morning after purchasing my new equipment I went to work on the donuts. I chose a vanilla cinnamon sugar cake donut made with flour, buttermilk, melted butter, sugar and some other essentials like baking powder, vanilla extract and salt. The pictures looked promising. For a topping I chose a recipe that promised the perfect classic maple glaze. With my oven preheated, ingredients placed on the counter and donut pans greased I felt more than prepared for the task at hand.
I followed the recipe precisely, making sure to heed the warnings about over beating the batter and not scorching the butter. I felt quite pleased with my progress. The batter looked just like the picture!
I poured the batter into my prepared pan and was again pleased to see that it looked just like the picture!
Then I stuck my creations into the oven and waited exactly seventeen minutes, just like the recipe said. Then I turned on the light of the oven to peer in on my tantalizing baked creations. And suddenly I was not so pleased. They looked nothing like the picture. My confectionary creations looked like small rubbery tires. They were pale with not even a hint of the golden brown I was promised in the recipe's description. The pleasing cinnamon scent I was greatly anticipating was barely detectable. I opened the oven, pulled out my pan and sunk into further disappointment. When I poked the donuts they didn't feel the least bit fluffy. They were hard and tough. Without even having to take a bite I knew they were bound to be the chewiest "cake" donuts ever baked at three hundred and fifty degrees.
I stuck them back in the oven for a few minutes. The donuts were already a disaster I knew that but I was hoping that with a few more minutes at a high heat a golden brown might appear on the tops of my lousy donuts. But no luck. A few minutes later the donuts still looked the same.
Reluctantly, my Mom did the difficult deed of taste testing the so-called donuts. Her face said it all. These were not donuts at all. They were tasteless, dense balls of dough cooked for twenty minutes. In no culinary universe could these tire-like substances be called "donuts."
The verdict on the vanilla cinnamon sugar donut was in and it was two thumbs down plus an "eww." At first I was disappointed. I had been excited to bake donuts in my nifty donut pan! The tray was so cute and the pictures on blogs and websites were so promising, but the result was nothing like the pictures. My donuts were nothing like the descriptions written by bakers and reviews written by tasters.
My donuts were a big fat flop.
The amount of waste that was in those tasteless, rubbery tires made my stomach sick! I had put in an hour trying to follow every step of the recipe to perfection. Now all I was left with was a bag full of hard cooked dough and a sink full of messy bowls. The disastrous donuts made me want to return my cute little pan and write scathing reviews on all baked donut recipes posted online!
But then something came over me. A small little voice said, "try again…" I looked at my counter full of ingredients and sink full of dishes, took a deep breath and headed back to the computer. I searched again for "baked donuts" and found another recipe with more reviews and more promises of a mind-blowing treat sure to please the whole family. With low expectations I set out to bake again.
I measured out my flour, sugar and even browned butter this time around. I once again followed the directions to a T, taking my time to double check amounts and the order of each step.
I cleaned out my donut pan, re-greased the cute little tins and re-filled them with donut dough #2.
I popped them in the oven and waited eight minutes - the new "perfect" amount of time for baked donuts when baked at three hundred and fifty degrees.
After eight minutes I pulled them from the oven and you want to know what happened?
I pulled out six pale, rubbery tires someone claimed would be "donuts."

So far my donut baking escapade has been less than appetizing. "Stephanie's Donut Shop" is not about to be the next hot-spot to pick up a morning box of America's favorite doughy breakfast treat. But I can tell you this much, I'm not giving up.
Sometimes in life the creation we bake up isn't always what we had anticipated. We put in certain ingredients, hoping for a desirable outcome and instead we end up with life's version of tasteless, colorless balls of dough. The let down is huge. Instead of a great treat we have a great big mess to clean up. The temptation to give up and never try again is overwhelming.
Failure, when given the chance, will lead to giving up. But it doesn't have to. Like Thomas Edison with the light-bulb, you and I can choose to keep trying even in the face of failure. Edison had thousands of patents on inventions that never turned the world upside down or the lights on in anyone's kitchen but he didn't stop trying. Eventually his determination paid off for him and certainly for you and I. Thanks to his overcoming spirit you and I have the ease of simply turning a switch and turning on light.
I still don't have the ability to put ingredients together, fill my donut pan, bake for X amount of minutes and pull out a culinary creation that pleases the palate, but that doesn't mean I won't someday. Mark my words dear reader (and maybe dear donut lover) someday I will bake perfectly golden brown vanilla cake donuts with maple glaze. Maybe not tomorrow but someday. I'll keep trying till I find the right recipe, the right temperature and the right time because I'm not a quitter. I will simply keep baking.

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