Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

Sadie's second grade class is a cornucopia of parties, games, and field trips. Sure, they're forced to do work between recess, but by and large, it's a fun place to be. Her teacher is nice, the kids are nice, the school is nice. Today, her class is having an end-of-the-year breakfast party, catered by parents and Sadie's teacher.

Things were not this good when I was in second grade. I'm fairly sure our teacher, Mrs. Demperio, entered the profession so she could refine her sadistic tendencies on 7 year olds. She was 100 years old, 1,000 feet tall, and wore a beige, bow-at-the neck blouse, maroon skirt, support hose, and sensible shoes every single day. For snack, she fed us unsweetened Cheerios. But one day, we got lucky: we were given carob chips.

In addition to her poor fashion taste and lack of taste buds (or perhaps, because of) the woman was a ticking time-bomb. If you stepped out of line (literally; remember you have to line up in school) she'd snap. Having said that, aside from her yelling at a classmate for mispronouncing the word "read" (she wanted to hear him say "reed" but he'd said "red") I have blocked out all memory of her psychotic episodes. I know that Janice Stolzenburg pulled her daughter (and my friend) Stephanie out of Mrs. Demperio's class because Demperio was a hellish bitch. (I also remember wondering why, since I prayed about getting delivered from evil every Sunday, why God was so slow on the uptake. If only I were Jewish like Stephanie -- one of the chosen people --maybe then something would happen.)

Every day was bad, but Sunday nights were the worst. My stomach would clench in knots, my brain consumed with thoughts of the school week ahead. Given all that stress, something was bound to happen.

One day at school, following one of Demperio's tirades (someone sharpened their pencil too much), she sat on my desk to rest her cloven feet.

In response, I threw up on her.

At the time I was embarrassed, but now I think she deserved it. Really, if you're going to be that mean to children, you should expect to be vomited on.

Now that I've whetted your appetite, shall we talk recipes?

These muffins, made for Sadie's happy-sunshine-fun-time-goodness-antithesis-of-Demperio class party, are wonderful. The recipe is derived from one in The Joy of Cooking; the book's muffin recipes are extremely versatile, offering lots leeway in creating a muffin of choice. This recipe yields a moist, lightly sweetened base with vanilla essence and gentle hits of yogurt tang and richness. (I didn't mix in any cinnamon into the batter but next time, I'd add ½ to 1 teaspoon. Nutmeg would be a good choice too.)

But the muffin top is the star attraction. Not only does it feature the glorious goodness of muffin top flavor, it's dipped in melted butter and then rolled cinnamon and sugar, similar to the donuts you'd find in a quality diner. They're an old-fashioned, comfort food.

My only regret is that we can't have any of the 2 dozen destined for school. Doubling the recipe, I eked 24 muffins and then eeked out enough batter for 3 mini muffins. Those were gone in five minutes.

Probably because there is nary a carob chip in sight.

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

2 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

2 large eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 to 8 tbsp oil
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Position oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Line a standard muffin pan with paper cups.

Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, yogurt, sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add flour mixture and mix with light strokes until the dry ingredients are just moistened. Don't overmix; batters should not be smooth.

Divide batter among the muffin cups and bake until a toothpick inserted in one or two of the muffins come out clean, 12-15 minutes.

While the muffins are baking, melt 1/2 stick butter and place in a bowl just large enough to hold a muffin. Combine ½ cup of sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon in a small, shallow bowl. As soon as the muffing are done, dip them one at a time in the melted butter and then roll in the sugar mixture. Set on a rack to cool.

Yields 12 standard muffins.

Grade: A+

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Lis said...

Wow.. I don't recall much about second grade other than that was the year I had to start wearing spectacles and I picked out frames that were called "Candy", which apparently from old pictures of me, were the thickest, darkest and most unattractive frames I could find. *sigh* Anyhoo.. we never got good treats like these either! No fair!! They look gorgeous =)

Acme Instant Food said...

You were right to throw up on her.

As kids, my brother and I both suffered with horrific food allergies. I mean really severe, broad-range allergies to all kinds of food. I know, you feel bad, huh? Send me something, you'll feel better. ANYWAY, we couldn't eat chocolate so carob was no stranger in our home. We couldn't eat flour either, so birthday cakes were often made from rice flour, with carob frosting (and eggless for my brother). mmmmm...second slice please!

Anonymous said...

Wow! I want to lick all those doughnut tops. I have a few recipes similar to this but I've never tried any of them.


Laura Rebecca said...

Lis & Kevin: have you ever played that little game where someone asks if you would go back in time and repeat your childhood, knowing what you know now, or for a $1,000,000?

I always say "no" (though I usually throw a few obscene intensifiers into my response as well). What would you do?

Ivonne, while making these, I kept thinking of your lovely beignets!

The Joy of Cooking says that if you bake the muffins without paper liners, you can dip the whole thing in butter and sugar. Messy, but delicious. I also keep thinking that nutmeg would be a good addition to the batter. I've had a number of old fashioned donuts with a whisper of nutmeg flavor and I'd like to mimic that with this recipe.

Acme Instant Food said...

L.R.--No way in Frigginsville would I go back to my childhood again. It's exhausting to think about.

Alanna Kellogg said...

I don't know if I should be sad or grateful that the frig is sans yogurt otherwise I'd be moving -- at nearly midnight -- to the kitchen. Yum!

Laura Rebecca said...

Well AK, the nice (?) thing about this recipe is that it's adaptable. You can swap the yogurt for milk or sour cream. (Sour cream donuts ... Mmmm.)

Anonymous said...

Hi, it looks good but how many tbsp of oil did u use? It looks v vague with 4-8 tbsps.

Laura Rebecca said...

MJ, I used 4 Tbsp., though I kept it 4 -8 as is called for in "The Joy of Cooking."

Anonymous said...

I would like to hear more about your teacher. My name is Tom Demperio and I teach school here in Florida...

Laura Rebecca said...

VERY interesting, Tom. I'll reveal the following at the risk of her being a relative and insulting you (which I hope I don't).

Mrs. Demperio was a 2nd grade teacher at Branch Brook Elementary School on Long Island. I don't know how long she was there, but I was a student there in the early to mid 1980s.

What do you teach?

Anonymous said...


Out of sheer curiosity I decided to search Google for "Demperio Branch Brook" and came upon your blog. I hope you forgive me for posting to such an old topic. ;-)

What year were you in Mrs. Demperio's class? I'm guessing that you might have been in my sister's grade as we were friends with the Stolzenberg's and Stephanie is my sister's age. I'm two years older, so I got to experience Demperio first. After my experiences, my sister avoided her class.

I remember Mrs. Demperio well. In first grade I was in a combined first/second grade class. I paid attention to the second grade board, so by second grade I was ready to move on to the third grade. I should have been so lucky.

Mrs. Demperio seemed to hate boys in general and me in particular. She would make me write the alphabet and turn it in to her every night only to hand it back to me without even looking at it. After awhile, my mother caught on and let me hand in the same paper day after day. Mrs. Demperio also loved to embarass me in front of the rest of the class.

I remember that there was a bathroom in the classroom and I would go to the bathroom as often as I could to escape her for a short time. I was even happy when I got the chicken pox. It meant time away from Demperio.

Most of all, I remember her telling me that I would never amount to anything because I couldn't color or cut within the lines. Years later, when I was doing extremely well in junior high school, I decided to stop by and get the last laugh at her. Unfortunately, she had retired two years prior and moved (to Florida I think). She couldn't even stick around so I could prove her wrong!

It's good to know that there are other Demperio victims out there. Perhaps we should set up a Demperio support group. ;-)

Laura Rebecca said...

Jason, I am thrilled (THRILLED) to hear from you! We are not alone in these recollections; we *should* form a support group. ;)

But, seriously, what person in their right mind would tell a kid that they won't succeed in life because of their coloring or cutting skills?

I'm trying to remember the year I was in Demperio's class. I think it was 84-85, because I vividly remember hearing about the 1986 Challenger Disaster while in Mrs. Stravedes (sp?) third grade class.

Thank you so much for commenting!

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to remember the year I was in Demperio's class. I think it was 84-85, because I vividly remember hearing about the 1986 Challenger Disaster while in Mrs. Stravedes (sp?) third grade class.

I was in the 82-83 class. I also had Mrs. Stravedes for third grade. I credit her for putting me on the path that I took during the whole rest of my school career. While Mrs. Demperio told me that I would never succeed and made me want to drop out of second grade (which I did for a week or so), Mrs. Stravedes looked at my test scores and told my parents and me that I should be in the advanced class.

Now that I think of it, my sister was in Mrs. Stravedes class for the 85-86 school year. You might have been in the same class as her. Do you remember a Jessica Levine at all?

Laura Rebecca said...

I can't beleive you had Mrs. Stravedes, too! Maybe if all students assigned to Mrs. Demperio were automatically routed to Mrs. Stravedes' class for a year of recovery.

I'm sorry to say I don't remember Jessica. But do you guys remember the lizards Mrs. Stravedes kept in her class (gekos, I think) and the butterflies she had the class observe, too?

Anonymous said...

Hi Laura,

I made these a few days back. It's really scrumptious, even without the topping! :)

Jo C.K. said...

when dipping the muffin into the butter & cinnamon sugar, it's just the top right? Not the whole muffin right? Thanks for sharing!