Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Doughnuts at the Breakfast Bar

Life, Jan. 19, 1942
If you are lucky enough to have a 1940s-1970s era kitchen, you might be fortunate enough to have a vintage breakfast bar,too. Breakfast bars, as you probably know, are counter-like tables that serve as casual, convenient places to serve snacks and meals - close to or right in the kitchen, with bar stools to sit on. Breakfast bars were first added to kitchens in the 1940s, and became increasingly popular in the mid 20th century. As homemakers became increasingly interested in quick meals and easy cooking options, the breakfast bar became an important place not only for breakfast but also for quick meals of any kind. The breakfast bar at top right (which is from the early 1940s) even has a drawer in it, and a tabletop made of glass. 

Popular Mechanics, Dec. 1958
I have always wanted a kitchen with a breakfast bar - ever since the 1970s. That was when my family rented a summer cottage that had been remodelled in the 1960s, all in avocado green. It featured a breakfast bar where you could eat snacks and look straight into the main part of the kitchen and see what was happening in there. It looked just like the one on the left. I remember how much fun it was to sit on one of the bar stools with a cold drink and a sandwich, talking to my mother, whose tireless work at the far-off avocado sink-counter-and-stove I now appreciate considerably more. 

Popular Mechanics, June 1958
You can have any sort of meal you like at your breakfast bar but ideally you’ll want to be eating something quick and delicious. You might be having a sandwich like I did; or better still, since this is a breakfast bar -  some doughnuts. This particular recipe is from a 1962 woman’s club cookbook (Signature Recipes, Elm Grove Woman’s Club (Elm Grove, Wisconsin, 1962, p. 46; recipe slightly rewritten to simplify). I believe they’re called “French” because they slightly resemble beignets, the square doughnuts found at cafes in New Orleans and France  - and now perhaps also at retro breakfast bars: 

Baked French Breakfast Doughnuts 

Cream 5 tablespoons butter and ½ cup of sugar thoroughly. Add 1 beaten egg and mix well.
In a second bowl sift 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, 2 ¼ teaspoons of baking powder, ¼ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture alternately with ½ cup of milk. Fill greased muffin tins half full and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Take them out of the pan while still hot and roll in a dish of 6 tablespoons of melted butter, then in a dish of ½ cup sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.

1 comment:

BrSpiritus said...

Breakfast bars survived well into the 80's when they were finally supplanted by the Islands we see now. The house I'm in now has a breakfast bar but nothing so kitschy at the pictures. Personally I dislike the idea because the bar just sticks out, dividing the kitchen from the small dining area/breakfast nook whatever. It's a waste of space but that's just my opinion lol