I took a short run around the neighborhood park last Saturday afternoon, listening to a podcast called Radio Cherry Bombe led by Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu, co-founders of Cherry Bombe Magazine, a publication celebrating women and food. The podcast highlights important woman in the culinary world through weekly interviews. My first time listening, I selected an old interview with Ruth Reichl, perhaps one of the most well-known and respected women in the food industry.
In the interview, Ruth and Kerry described the food industry as a “career of consumption” which couldn’t be more fitting. Those in the industry literally make a living through the consumption of food themselves, growing and making it for others, or writing about and styling it for the purpose of other people consuming and/or desiring to consume it. Later in the podcast, Ruth and Kerry discuss how many women in the food industry struggle with body image and eating habits. Specifically, how difficult it is to be in the world of food and stay thin because most people in the food industry are literally surrounded by food, be it a food reviewer whose job relies on the next dish they consume or restaurant they visit or a food blogger who tastes several phases of a dish before finally posting it online. They need to consume, in excess at times, in order to complete the work they do. This brief interview sent my mind into a whirlwind of thoughts. Particularly, the juxtaposition this creates of being part of a career of consumption, yet simultaneously obsessing over health, weight and body image. I myself am guilty of being obsessed with food, almost as an idol at times, while concurrently worrying about my health, body image and the impending doom my next baking experiment will inflict on my waist.I feel like this is a small glimpse into the lifelong battle I’ve been fighting with food. The balance between indulging in good food, whether it be at a new restaurant in town (which is often in Seattle) or baking up something in the kitchen, while trying to stay healthy and lean. I recall reading the book How French Women Stay Thin at an early age, hoping to extract any bit of advice to “stay thin”. I also remember the first time I started thinking about food as something bad, and engaging in self-deprivation. At one time I relied on an orange creme Yoplait non-fat yogurt for breakfast daily, followed by another one at lunch with a little granola on top, and then something small for dinner. No snacks. I ate the same thing twice a day because my brother’s girlfriend at the time told me that was the key to losing weight.Sitting here now, just after finishing a run and about to whip up a batch of baked donuts I’ve been dreaming about all week, this seems ridiculous. I cannot even imagine depriving myself of food since it is such an integral part of my life. But I think it is my early obsession with food that led me to my love of the culinary world. I still struggle today in various ways and will certainly do so for the rest of my life in some capacity. It is funny how the things you are most passionate about in life can also cause the most grief and pain. I’ve tried to overcome this through the words of Geneen Roth or other such novels on food and balance, with no such avail. But each day, I strive for balance. I fail often but I am beginning to accept how things are. And that’s why I can go for a run, do a few sit-ups and eat some cookies (or donuts, in this case).
While not your typical fried donuts, these baked ones are delicious. Crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle. They have a hint of nutmeg, thick maple frosting and a sprinkle of large smoked sea salt granules on top. Additionally, they are gluten-free and vegan and make a nice addition to any brunch or breakfast potluck.Gluten-Free, Vegan Maple Donuts with Smoked Sea Salt
Modified from Peas and Thank You
Makes 10-12 donuts
1 1/2 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (i.e. Namaste) (or substitute 1/2 cup sorghum flour, though the result is a bit chewier)
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup melted vegan butter (i.e. Earth Balance)
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, or other non-dairy milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter (i.e. Earth Balance), softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons maple extract
splash of almond milk (about 1 Tablespoon)
smoked sea salt (i.e. Trader Joe’s)
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease or butter donut pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. In a small bowl, whisk together melted butter, milk, vanilla and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add liquid mixture to the flour and stir until just combined. With a small spoon, fill donut cups with batter. Use a knife to smooth out batter, if necessary. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of donuts until firm to touch. Allow donuts to cool in pan for about 5 minutes and then transfer to cooling rack.
While the donuts are cooling, make the frosting. Beat together butter until light and fluffy. Add the maple and mix until combined. Add powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until it is thick and creamy. Add a splash of milk to thin, however, you want the frosting to be thick so it holds up on the donuts.
Once cooled, frost donuts and top with smoked sea salt. Store leftovers in a sealed container at room temperature or refrigerated.