A Jewel-Toned Gem : Strawberry Doughnut Muffins

I often just toss my paper copy of Bon Appétit aside when it arrives in the mail. The magazine tends to have very few baking recipes and I swear the issues just keep getting thinner and more lacking in substance as time goes on. But perhaps I shouldn't dismiss it so quickly, because I would have missed Sarah Jampel's recipe for Strawberry Doughnut Muffiins from the September 2021 issue if it hadn't popped up in my social media feed. 

I hate frying but I enjoy making (and eating!) baked doughnuts and doughnut-like things, whether they are baked in the shape of doughnuts, muffins, or cakes. These doughnuts don't have any strawberry in the batter itself, but they are filled with berry jam and rolled in strawberry sugar. I made the doughnut batter by beating softened butter with refined coconut oil, sugar, and brown sugar until smooth; adding eggs; mixing in baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla; and alternately adding in flour and sour cream. 

I put a small scoop of batter into each well of a greased muffin tin and tried to make a little indentation. I put a dollop of jam (I used Bonne Maman intense red fruits preserves) on top of the batter, dropped more batter on top, and tried my best to fully enclose the jam inside the batter. This was challenging and I was not successful in keeping all of the jam away from the sides of the pan.
At least the leaking jam didn't stick to the pan; I was able to release all of the muffins without a problem. The muffins developed domed, cracked tops as they were baking, and some of them ended up with open crevasses. I brushed the baked muffins with melted butter and coated them in a mixture of sugar, ground freeze-dried fruit, and a little salt. I apparently applied the fruit sugar with a heavy hand, because I ended up having to make more of it. The colored sugar coating minimized the prominence of the cracks on top of the muffins.
I coated some of the muffins in raspberry sugar (because I had had an open bag of freeze-dried raspberries after making Sarah Kieffer's Raspberry White Chocolate Brownies), and some in strawberry sugar; the raspberry sugar was a more vibrant ruby jewel tone, while the strawberry sugar was a paler pink. In the photo above, the lighter row of muffins in the middle are coated in strawberry sugar and the rest are covered in raspberry sugar.
The cross section of my muffins pretty much all looked the photo above, with a small dollop of jam in the middle and a thin line of jam extended all the way to the edges. I wish I could have achieved the clean look of the muffins in the photo accompanying the recipe, which have a generous blob of jam in the middle that is well contained. Regardless of how they looked, the muffins were delicious. The muffin had a dense, springy consistency that did evoke a cake doughnut, and the jam in the middle was a nice touch -- although it had less impact than I was expecting, but perhaps it was because my jam had spread out a bit. What makes the muffins is the delightful sweet fruit sugar coating. Whether it was strawberry or raspberry, the sugar was intensely flavored and the crunch from the sugar was so satisfying. And of course, its visual impact from the fruit was striking.
I love the fact that freeze-dried fruit has become so widely accessible and less expensive. It can add so much impact to baked goods -- giving you as much (or more) flavor as fresh fruit, with far less effort.
Recipe: "Strawberry Doughnut Muffins" by Sarah Jampel, from Bon Appétit

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Hello there,
I feel exactly the way you do about Bon Appetit and recently was contemplating canceling my subscription. It is sad that the heyday of cooking magazines seems to have passed. Luckily, I find cookbooks are better and better these days with metric measurements, glorious photos, and more culturally diverse recipes.

I missed this muffin recipe. Yup, I tossed my magazine somewhere after a quick skim. I have some extra freeze dried strawberries from a strawberry cake recipe I made for Christina Tosi’s class and jars of that same flavor of Bonne Maman’s Intense Fruit preserves so will give these a go.

I do wonder what the trick is to get the desired pocket of jam? Wonder if using the jam chilled would help?

Thanks for the alert on this recipe!
As I reflect back on the process, I think the consistency of the jam was not the problem so much as the difficulty of dealing with the batter. I might try putting the batter in a pastry bag and piping a little wall of batter around the edges to try and contain the jam in the center. I think I ended up spreading a lot of the jam around as I was trying to cover it with batter.
Ok thanks for the suggestion. That sounds like a good strategy to try. I found an amazing sale on the Bonne Maman so have plenty for experimenting. Of course, now I am also curious about using dried raspberry for the topping too and comparing it to the strawberry. I liked the way you plated both, showcasing the color difference. They looked nice together.