Have you heard of a “duffin”? It’s one of the many “hybrid” food trends that’s all the rage at the moment (see: cronut). Basically, it’s a combination of a doughnut and a muffin. It’s a muffin-shaped-cake-doughnut-thing with a pillowy soft interior, a juuuust crispy exterior, rolled in sugar and filled with raspberry jam.
The idea of a doughnut/muffin hybrid is not completely new – there have been versions around for awhile now. But the term “duffin” was coined by Bea’s of Bloomsbury, an independent London bakery.
I’m a big fan of Bea’s for many reasons, but here are the top two:
1. Rachel has a tangential connection to Bea herself. Bea is an American, and she is friends with one of Rachel’s friends from college (Rachel – correct me if I’m wrong). So when Rachel and her husband came to visit me in London a few years ago, we decided we had to have our afternoon tea at Bea’s in order to support her. It was delicious.
2. Until very recently, Bea’s had a weekend location at a market around the corner from my flat. It was in a railway arch and served brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. It was an “American diner” kind of vibe, serving genuine American-style buttermilk pancakes, bottomless coffee, and – most importantly – streaky American-style maple bacon. I went on record numerous times saying it was THE BEST bacon in London and I stand by that. It was incredible.
They also did other cool things at this location like movie nights (showing classics like Clueless and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) with chili dogs and funnel cakes. And a crawfish boil in the summer. I am unspeakably sad that this location is now closed. It is a source of great anguish in my life, but it brought me such joy while it was there.
But to get back to the duffin…
Like I said, Bea’s was the first place to coin the name “duffin” (to tell the truth, I am actually kind of partial to the other variation: muffnut). So when Starbucks started selling a doughnut-muffin last autumn as a duffin (trademarked, no less), outrage ensued!
Starbucks responded on their own website, but basically, they come across as jerks and Bea’s is the hero in this story. And I say that as someone who generally quite likes Starbucks.
Now, when all this happened, I had never actually tried the duffin from Bea’s. I had heard about it, but never gotten around to buying one. However, as a true Bea’s fan, I wanted to support them against the Big Bad Corporation. I felt that I needed to show without a doubt that I was Team Bea’s in #duffingate.
So one mid-October Sunday afternoon after a free lunch at Wahaca (that’s another story), Louise and I decided to get one for dessert. We walked into the St. Paul’s location and confidently ordered two to take-away. This was foolish for two reasons: 1) it was raining, why didn’t we decide to sit in? and 2) they are HUGE – one is enough to split between two.
After exiting the shop, we decided we couldn’t wait until we walked home to try them, so we found a cold stone bench in St. Paul’s churchyard, sat down with an umbrella above us and split one between the two of us. It had clearly just come out of the kitchen because it was still warm and it. was. incredible. Cakey and sweet and raspberry-ish and yum yum yummy. I really wish we had taken a picture sitting there in the cold because it was simultaneously pathetic and joyful.
I still haven’t tried the Starbucks one, but I am confident that Bea’s is better. I mean you really just have to look at them to know:
In sum: duffins (from Bea’s) are deliciously yummy scrummy amazing. If you’re in London, support them in #duffingate (which in all honesty is kind of blown over now) and go treat yourself to one today.
Do you like the term “duffin” or “muffnut” better? Are there any other food hybrid trends that you’re loving?