So, I had my first dirt bomb last summer at Bantam Bread Company in Bantam, CT. To the uninitiated, a dirt bomb is a nutmeg-infused muffin that, still warm from the oven, is plunged into melted butter and then tossed in cinnamon sugar until generously coated. Delish-sounding, no? However, the thing that is really totally brilliant about dirt bombs is that the butter and sugar transforms them from very nice, ho-hum-ish spiced muffins, into – basically one of my most favorite foods — doughnuts.At the Bantam Bread Co., dirt bombs are big-ish (standard muffin-sized), which I actually love, as I tend to be the one pointing at the largest croissant or chocolate chip cookie in the display case when purchasing sweets. But when developing my own dirt bomb recipe, I thought it might be fun to make dirt bomb doughnut holes by using a mini muffin pan. It totally worked, as the dirt bombs end up looking like round little balls, with no mini muffin-top in sight. And the ratio of the transformative coating to muffin is perfect.My dirt bomb internet/cookbook research revealed another dirt bomb (other than the Bantam Bread Co. one), hailing from Cottage Street Bakery in Orleans, MA, and several “cinnamon sugar baked doughnut” recipes (Ina Garten has one, among others). I tweaked a bit, substituting oil for the butter, dark brown sugar for the white, buttermilk for the milk and ramping the nutmeg way up. (Don’t be scared, but my recipe calls for two whole nutmegs grated . . . Sorry, but I was feeling the need for a spicier muffin, and when researching “nutmeg muffins,” discovered a recipe for one in my copy of Marion Cunningham’s breakfast book that called for one and a half nutmegs, and for better or worse, I felt that gave me liberty to ask for two in my recipe).My recipe follows and I’d say it’s pretty foolproof. (I made it about 100x as I wasn’t happy with the crumb – seemed kind of tunnel-y to me – which is probably a result of substituting the oil for the butter). Anyway, enjoy! They really are tasty.
Dirt Bombs Doughnut Holes
- Doughnut Holes:
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 whole nutmegs ground
- ¾ cup/6 oz. vegetable oil
- 1 cup dark brown sugar packed
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 stick unsalted butter melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- To make the doughnut holes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly butter (or spray) a mini muffin pan.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg into a large bowl and then whisk to ensure everything is fully incorporated. Set aside.
- On medium-low speed, combine the oil and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition, and continue mixing until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the buttermilk, in 3 installments, beginning and ending with the dry. Stop the mixer and finish mixing the dough with a rubber spatula.
- Scoop the dough by the tablespoonful (I used my smallest ice cream scoop for precision’s sake), filling the mini muffin pan and place the pan in the middle rack of the oven.
- Bake for about 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the bake time. The muffins are tiny and bake quickly. They are done when a toothpick comes out clean (full disclosure: I have a convection oven and although I drop the temperature of my oven by 25 degrees – ie: i baked these muffins at 325 degrees – my oven still seems to bake things much more quickly than conventional ovens. Long story short: check your muffins after 8 minutes).
- To make the coating: Melt the butter in a small bowl, deep enough to roll a doughnut hole around in. Whisk the sugar and cinnamon together in another small bowl with some depth.
- Assemble: Remove the doughnut holes from the oven and, as soon as they have cooled enough to handle, begin dipping them one at a time in the bowl of butter (I used a large spoon for lowering them in to, and removing them from, the butter) and then rolling them in the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
- Transfer the coated holes to a wire rack. Let cool and consume immediately (although you really don’t have to: these tasty treats last surprisingly well if tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and left on the counter for a day or two).