Cooking with Lisa: Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

A lot of people tell me that they don’t know how to bake. While it’s nice to feel like baking skills are a superpower, I think there are a lot of recipes anybody could do with the right instructions and supplies. This recipe is incredibly simple, relatively fast, and absurdly delicious.

I think the place where most people fall down is that they don’t read the recipe thoroughly. Baking is precise, and unless you really know what you’re doing, messing with the ratios could drastically change the taste and texture of what you’re making.

So, without further ado, Cinnamon Sugar donut muffins!

Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins

(Very slightly adapted) from Kitchen of Friends

Butter or cooking spray to grease the pan
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg (room temperature)
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup of butter
To make these dairy free, use Pam instead of butter and soy milk instead of regular milk.
Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

First, you must make your own baking playlist. Tailor it to the intensity of the recipe. For very complex recipes I use soothing music, but for something this low key I can go a little more high intensity. For these I chose Keri Hilson’s “Pretty Girl Rock” on repeat, which I highly recommend.

Now that you have queued up the video for that, get your ingredients out! Leave your butter and egg out of the fridge before you start so that they can get to room temperature. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease your muffin pan. This can mean using Pam if you want to be a little bit healthier, or butter if you don’t. To do this, hold the butter with a paper towel and thinly coat the pan.

Mix the sugar and the egg until they turn to into a fluffy-ish light yellow mixture. You’ll know it when you see it. You could use a mixer for this, or you could use just a regular spoon. I just used a regular metal spoon because I forgot that you need mixing implements. I recommend learning from my mistakes.

Now for your dry ingredients! Flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. You can mix in your dry ingredients in several different ways. Sometimes I go with two forks, sometimes I use a sifter, or sometimes I have to use the same metal spoon because of unavoidable human error. Mix this until it looks even. Spices are also to taste, so it’s okay if those are little less precise. Remember that ground nutmeg and cinnamon are very powerful, so be careful if you want to add any more than suggested in the recipe.

Add the dry ingredients to the sugar and egg. It will come out kind of crumbly – that is totally fine since you’re about to add more wet ingredients. Just make sure everything is consistent.

Now you add the vegetable oil, vanilla, and milk. Don’t mix too much, since it makes the donut muffins (or any sort of muffin or cupcake situation) too tough. The key is to mix just until everything seems even. The batter has enough liquid to make mixing easy.

You have completed the donut muffin batter! Time to bake it. Use something such as a ¼ measuring cup to spoon the batter into the tin. Fill each cup about 2/3 of the way up. After you fill everything, you can move some of the batter around so that they are all even and have the same cooking time. Put them in the oven.

I recommend putting them in for 8 minutes, turning them around in the oven, then putting them back in for 7 minutes. This makes sure that they bake evenly all the way through.

While these bake, you can kind of just do whatever you want. I like to clean everything so I don’t have to deal with it, but it’s really your call. Maybe watch a bunch of Craig Ferguson videos on YouTube, I don’t know. Go crazy! But remember to be aware of your donut muffins.

Use a toothpick or fork to make sure they have baked all the way through (they are done if the fork or toothpick comes out clean). Do not bake for a minute longer after that, though, since ideally they should be fluffy and light.

After you take out the muffin pan, take the donut muffins out of the tray. The muffins should come out of the pan easily if you greased it correctly. I recommend putting these on a drying rack or paper towel so that no excess oil gets on your counter.

To make the cinnamon sugar topping, use about a 3-1 ratio of sugar to cinnamon. You can definitely mess with this depending on how much you like cinnamon.

Melt about 1/3 cup of butter in the microwave. You don’t have to use it all, but it doesn’t hurt.

Once they are cool enough to pick up, dip the top into the melted butter, then spin the top once in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Set it aside. It’s done! You’ve brought a cinnamon sugar donut muffin into the world.

Repeat with the rest of the donut muffins.

Good job! I can confirm that everybody that ate these thought they were delicious. Several people meant to save half for somebody else but accidentally ate the whole thing. Some people did this twice in a row.

Good luck!


  1. These look and sound delicious. Just curious… what puts the “donut” in “cinnamon sugar donut muffins”?

  2. Thank you!

    And the “donut” comes from the butter and cinnamon- sugar coating, I think. It’s not an official definition, but every recipe I’ve read for donut muffins uses similar ratios and coatings to this one.

  3. HEY

    I’m pretty sure Andi promised us some of these. She never delivered. What’s up with that??!

    I liked this article (and also Keri Hilson!)

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