Pretty Dishes

Maple Bacon Bars
November 17, 2010, 11:04 pm
Filed under: City Arts

I’ve gotten a little behind on posting my City Arts assignments, but this one was worth the wait. Or rather, it’s the opposite—this recipe is so good that I’m sorry I made you wait for it. The point being, it’s great. Really great. In short, I was blown away.

I’ve not been one to care much for doughnuts. In hindsight I blame the poor circumstances for each of my previous doughnut-tasting experiences: limited to grocery store bakery cases, large communal boxes of dubious origin, and a rare Krispy Kreme. It turns out I didn’t know that doughnuts could really be any better. Most of what I’d had consisted of dough on the verge of stale smothered in goopy glazes that were far too sugary and lacked any real flavor. Doughnuts just seemed dull and unsatisfying to me, so I frequently favored croissants (which are also too often a gamble), muffins, or scones when given a choice. When I was in New York I took a risk on a doughnut that turned out to be the most horrible I’d ever tasted—the dough was absolutely saturated with oil to the point of being gummy; the doughnuts had been recently refrigerated, so the frosting was chunky and unappetizing. It was truly awful. I threw it away with the mental confirmation that I need not ever eat another doughnut again.

Keep in mind that I had done extensive work several months earlier on an actual doughnut cookbook. As proud as I was of what we had accomplished with that book, how nice the final package looked, how much I enjoyed working with Lara Ferroni (my food photography instructor, among other things), every time I read through it I thought to myself, “I hope people like this—I’d certainly never bother making doughnuts at home.” And that was that.

But Corey wanted to do a review of the cookbook after its release, and he asked me to photograph a recipe from it. Of course I would do it, but I was skeptical. He tested the basic raised dough and decided to make it into maple bacon bars. I photographed the process and enjoyed the delicious smells all around. I was pleasantly surprised by the flavorful maple glaze when I snuck a taste. When the dough was frying I watched it turn golden brown and take on the appearance of all the maple bars I’d seen and consumed before. I got my styled shot of the finished doughnut. (Isn’t it nice? I’m really proud of that one.) Then I took a tentative bite.

I can’t even put into words the difference between that doughnut and any that had come before. I suddenly understood why people go crazy for the things. Why there are lines out the door for just-baked ones at quality shops. It was so incredible. I ate two. I wanted more. I took some home to share with my family. Everyone loved them. I saved one for breakfast the next morning. And it was really great—not as perfect as it was straight from the fryer since it was going on a day old by that point, but it was still pretty fantastic.

I have thought about those doughnuts many days since. I sometimes daydream about that shockingly perfect first bite, when I realized there really was something to love about doughnuts. It would certainly have to be a special occasion for me to make them again—namely I would want to have a few guests over for brunch, maybe sometime during this holiday season. It’s a fair amount of trouble to go to just for a casual breakfast, not to mention they are a somewhat indulgent treat (though there are also recipes for doughs that don’t require frying). That being said, if you love doughnuts or are even on the fence about them, I would encourage you to try making them at home. It’s a whole new world.

(Recipe and select photos here.)


2 Comments so far
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I better not show Curt these images of drizzly, bacon-y goodness. He’ll ask me where you’ve been all his life ;)

In other news, I’ve added you to my blogroll so that I can try out (or at least, admire, your lovely recipes.) Your photography is so impressive.

Comment by Tara

Haha, tell him you’ll be happy to add a slice of bacon to a maple bar from a local shop. ;)

And thanks very much Tara! Welcome and enjoy!

Comment by prettydishes

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