Have I told you about the worst boss I ever had? It was my first office job, and unfortunately that made me completely deaf to what I now recognise as blaring alarm bells that were ringing from day one. It was an absolutely awful, bordering on traumatic (relatively traumatic, not ‘events of 2016’ traumatic. We all know this year should be cancelled.) experience, working for this person. My office mates were lovely – one girl who used to wear the most dramatic, full on make up to work every day, and another who was from Bosnia Herzegovina and totally delightful – but the weight of the awfulness of this boss made the atmosphere unbearable.
Here’s an example: we weren’t allowed to keep our mobile phones at our desks. We had to keep them in our ‘lockers’. Yes, to answer your question, this person who ran an office of three people went out and purchased a row of lockers, purely so we would not keep our personal effects at our desks. And our desks were placed one in front of the other, not next to each other, so we each looked into the back of another person’s head, whilst the boss sat off to the side, her desk facing all three of us. So anyway, of course I kept my phone at my desk anyway, carefully hidden. And of course, one night I totally forgot it and had to conspire with a co-worker to smuggle it out of the office. I couldn’t go back in to get it or I’d have been sprung immediately – the boss knowing instinctively that no human with a pulse could possibly want to spend a second longer than they had to in that place.
Luckily, my friend of the incredible make up skills was getting a facial that afternoon right near the office. After some careful planning, we determined that she would casually pretend to look on my desk for something – I can’t remember what it was, but we worked something out, knowing she would almost certainly be asked – stealthily grab the phone, and then I would meet her at the beauty spot. The plan went off almost without a hitch, but for the fact that my friend walked right up to me, and since she had washed off her make up in preparation for the facial, I had no idea who she was until she started talking.
In another episode, as part of our celebrations of the RSPCA’s cupcake day (a great initiative coming up in October), the boss determined that it wasn’t enough that we should all bake and then make a donation – we needed to sell our cupcakes to raise extra money. Sell them to who, you might ask? Why, the local construction crew of course! So she sent us, in office gear, high heels and all, to walk up the main road our office was on, and try and sell our hardly professional efforts to a working construction crew, who were just trying to do their job. It. Sucked.
About those Paczki Muffins…
All that is to say that these cupcakes are super-similar to the ones I made on that day, although greatly improved if I do say so myself. They’re really more of a muffin, since they lack frosting, and these are inspired by the classic Polish Paczki – which is a jelly donut, often filled with plum jam, and pronounced pawnch-ki. These are a wonderfully tender, nutmeggy, buttermilk cake, with a super-moist crumb, and the top is brushed with butter and a scattering of crystalline sugar. They are completely delicious, perfect for elevenses, afternoon tea, lunch boxes, even better when they’re nuked in the microwave and topped with a scoop of ice cream for dessert.
I seem to be on a donut-inspired baking bender, and I’m totally ok with that. Now tell me – who was your worst boss?
- For the muffins:
- 1 stick (115g) butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup (185g) caster sugar
- 1 egg
- 2¼ cup (340g) plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda (bicarb soda)
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- 1 cup (250ml) buttermilk
- ½ cup plum jam
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ¾ stick (75g) butter, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and line a 12 cup muffin tray with muffin papers.
- Place the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer) and cream together until light and fluffy.
- Add the egg and beat until completely incorporated, about 30 seconds.
- Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and nutmeg to the bowl, and begin mixing them in slowly. Stream in the buttermilk as you go, and continue mixing until everything is incorporated.
- Take about ? of the batter, and divide it evenly among the muffin papers - about a heaped tablespoon in each. Make an indent in the batter for the jam to sit in.
- Place a small teaspoonful of jam into each muffin. Divide the remaining batter between the muffins, trying to cover the jam, as best you can (don't lose sleep over it).
- Bake the muffins for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown and springing back when touched.
- Leave the muffins to cool for at least 15 minutes. To top them, place the sugar in a shallow bowl. Place the butter into a small bowl.
- Dip the top of each muffin, first into the butter, and then coat it generously in the spiced sugar. When all the muffins are done, you can serve them. They're great warm.