Boston Cream Doughnuts / Food Loves Writing

Earlier this week, I read an Anne Lamott article in which she says a few things so well, I don’t think anybody again will ever say them better. (“There were entire books written on the subject of the overly sensitive child. What the term meant was that you noticed how unhappy or crazy your parents were.” // “Any healthy half-awake person is occasionally going to be pierced with a sense of the unfairness and the catastrophe of life for ninety-five percent of the people on this earth.” // “One of the hardest lessons I had to learn was that I was going to need a lot of help, and for a long time.”) As a writer, there are two ways you can respond when you read an article like that. You can be happy such good writing exists, resonating in different sentences with what you’ve seen to be true, written in a way that cuts to the point—or you can be bummed out, because, hello, you weren’t the one creating it.  This, of course, goes for more than writing.

I hear from people all the time who don’t want to blog because “there are so many blogs out there.” Or from creators (Etsy shop owners, amateur photographers, cooks) who label themselves as “not very good” at some or the other skill. I’ve had three different people—women, which is probably significant—this last month tell me how bad they are at cooking, despite the fact they want to learn. I understand what they’re saying; they’re looking beautiful meals, measuring their beginner food skills up against them, feeling like they’ve failed. They’re eating at amazing restaurants or going to killer chef demonstrations like that one we saw in Maine, loving the presentations and having no idea how to achieve them. But listen, loving something excellent doesn’t negate the joy of trying, even when that trying means failing, to replicate it or re-create it yourself. A botched attempt at waffles is still, if nothing else, an attempt. There is glory in the process. There is beauty in the stumbling.

But the bigger issue, at least on my mind right now, is the way we imperfect, inadequate, frustrated creators respond to work we see as Really Good, especially when we think the work we are making isn’t. We read that article, we watch that clip, we look at our friend’s living room, and we think, This Is Amazing And I Don’t Measure Up.

boston cream doughnuts

So as Cheryl says, Let me show you another way.

You don’t have to view life as competition. You don’t have to be the best. You can rejoice in beauty, wherever it comes from, knowing that a world with beauty is a world in which all of us would much rather live. You can read a friend’s blog post, even when it looks better than anything you’ve ever tried, and rejoice with your friend because, man, she brought beauty to the world, to your world. Sure, there will be a gross little voice inside of you when you do this, a gross little voice that wants to tear her down, criticize her work, bring up some mistake she’s made before—all to make yourself feel better, all to hit back at that inadequate feeling nobody likes. Practice ignoring that impulse. Practice cheering her on instead. We’re together in this world. We need each other. Realize it now.

Boston Cream Doughnut / Food Loves Writing

Be the one to delight in beauty, any and all of it.

Be the one to call out light, from wherever it’s found.

This is a secret to a blessed life. This is something I’ve learned from this blog and from the larger world to which it belongs, as I’ve surrounded myself by thinkers and creators and food lovers and crafters and authors and friends.

I’ll give you a good place to start: Ashley McLaughlin’s new book, Baked Doughnuts for Everyone. Tim and I made the Boston cream version last night, one of 100+ gluten-free baked doughnuts in the book, and when I scooped the extra vanilla cream to my mouth, custardy and puddingy and mmmm vanilla, I closed my eyes and sighed. It’s such a treat to open up a new cookbook, pick a recipe inside, follow the directions, and wind up with something incredibly good. We had doughnuts last night (and this morning) because of Ashley’s work testing the recipe, taking its picture, putting it into a book. Well done, Ashley. Thanks for the joy you gave our lives this week.

Baked Boston Cream Doughnuts (Gluten-Free)

Serving Size: 6 to 8 doughnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups (300ml) milk
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) half-and-half
  • Slightly more than 1/4 cup (50g) coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (12g) arrowroot starch or cornstarch
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 scraped vanilla bean and pod
  • 1 cup (175g) chocolate (we used 60% Videri chocolate we were sent and it worked beautifully)
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons (60 to 90ml) half-and-half
  • 1/2 cup (60g) oat flour (easy to make by grinding oats in a food processor or high-speed blender)
  • 1/2 cup (70g) rice flour
  • 3 tablespoons (21g) almond meal
  • A little over 1/3 cup (67g) coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) milk
  • 1/4 cup (50g) plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons (28ml) olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

To Make the Filling (i.e., crazy good vanilla pudding custard): Place a fine-mesh strainer over a large bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, half-and-half, coconut sugar, arrowroot starch, eggs, salt, and vanilla beans in a pot, stirring until smooth. Place the scraped vanilla bean pod in the pot, too. Keep whisking as the mixture heats; once it reaches a simmer, stir one more minute and remove from heat. Pour mixture through fine-mesh strainer and throw away vanilla pod. Set this bowl on the counter to come to room temperature and then refrigerate until fully chilled.

To Make the Topping: Melt chocolate in a double boiler with half-and-half. You may add a little extra half-and-half if you like to thin it out. Keep stirring until chocolate is smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

To Make the Doughnuts: Preheat the oven to 350F (180C) and grease your doughnut pan (we just bought this one and LOVE IT).

Combine the dry ingredients (oat flour, rice flour, almond meal, coconut sugar, baking powder, salt) in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the eggs together and combine with milk, yogurt, oil, and vanilla extract, whisking until mixed.

Pour the wet mixture into the dry mixture, and stir with a large wooden spoon until combined. Ashley makes a note at the beginning of the book about being careful not to overmix. As soon as the flour has disappeared into the batter, stop stirring.

Spoon mixture into doughnut molds, filling to just below the top of each one. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until lightly brown and a toothpick inserted into the batter comes out clean. Let cool in pan 5 minutes; then use a thin spatula or butter knife to loosen the edges and slide the doughnuts out onto a wire rack or plate to fully cool.

To Assemble the Doughnuts: Slide each doughnut in half with a serrated knife. Top the bottom half with the cream. Top the top half with the chocolate. Sandwich together. Serve immediately.

Notes

The main changes we made to the original recipe were swapping in coconut sugar for cane sugar (the weights are exactly the same, but the measurements in cups varied slightly), using half-and-half instead of heavy cream in the chocolate topping, and going with a full vanilla bean instead of half in the filling. Vanilla beans are magic.

http://foodloveswriting.com/2013/11/01/boston-cream-doughnuts-gluten-free/

Disclosure: We were given a review copy of this cookbook and a couple of samples of Videri chocolate for inclusion in this post. All opinions express are our own.

Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 34 Comments

  1. Cheryl

    “…loving something excellent doesn’t negate the joy of trying, even when that trying means failing, to replicate it or re-create it yourself. A botched attempt at waffles is still, if nothing else, an attempt. There is glory in the process. There is beauty in the stumbling.”

    Amen, Shanna.

  2. Lindsey | The Next Course

    You know, the blog world is really an incredible place to find the opportunity to, as you say, “Be the one to delight in beauty, any and all of it.” There are so many beautiful photos, recipes, videos, and words out there in the blog world!

    Cheers to you for sharing your lovely and loving perspective, and cheers to Ashley for her incredible new book!

  3. Erin

    This is such a beautiful post and I have so many thoughts running through my head about it.
    1) This is how I feel every time I read Jhumpa Lahiri: amazement that such beautiful work exists, and a stab of “if only I could have that.”
    2) All of this reminds me of a quote I wrote down out of Shauna Niequist’s Bittersweet a couple of months ago: “when someone’s life is changing, you better get over yourself and be present to the miracle in front of you.” It is such a hard thing to do, but when you are able to there is freedom and beauty.
    4) I think I might need to buy a doughnut mold.

  4. Joanna

    I like this! That spirit of generosity is sort of revolutionary. At least it feels that way to me when my first instinct is to compare–then nobody comes out ahead. And I also like your specific way of writing it, too. And your doughnuts. All of it. :)

  5. Ruthy @ Omeletta

    Shanna: THIS. What a gorgeous post. Thank you for making me feel a little more upbeat during what has been a very long day. Your site is definitely one that brings me joy. I’d do well to remember to rejoice in the good stuff I see in front of me and not always be turned so inward.

  6. Sarah Kate Branine

    This post is an example of why I love your writing– because it’s clear and challenging, full of truth and equally as beautiful.

    Also, I feel like I am on the doorstep of trying baked doughnuts. This post might’ve made me write down “doughnut mold” on my Target list : )

    p.s. And, thank you, friend, for the shout out : )
    Happy weekending!

    1. Shanna Mallon

      You’re sweet. And oh, I wish you lived around here so I could bring you a doughnut or two to try! Definitely add a pan to your list and definitely go to Target soon… I was just there this week and everything’s cute as ever, ha! : )

  7. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen Notes

    These are they type of posts that first draw me to your blog. I love how you advocate doing things we like regardless of how it’s perceived. I read a book when I was about 17 (decades ago!) where it said something like ‘you can still play tennis your whole life just because you love it. You don’t have to be good at it. Why is it that most of us think that we should only do the things we can be good at?’. It completely change the way I view myself. Love this post Shanna! And those doughnuts too, of course.

  8. felicia | Dish by Dish

    Loved this, and the fact that you constantly challenge us to create and be bigger than what we currently are. Shanna, I just realized that I discovered your blog almost a year ago, and one year later, I feel like I know you as a friend, because of your words, your encouragement and your constant strive to bring beauty and light to the rest of the world.

    thanks friend,
    F.

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  10. Alanna

    What a beautiful post, in words and photos! Thank you for these sweetly inspiring words, Shanna. So beautifully written. This has completely warmed my heart. And boy, do I want one of those doughnuts. :)

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