There’s spam, eggs, sausage, and…mini maple spam doughnuts? Photo courtesy of The Blue Ribbon Group
Auburn resident Jason Munson, 41, has won the Great American SPAM Competition, carrying a first place finish at the Puyallup Fair all the way through the nationals. His Mini Maple Spam Doughnuts beat out Spam Rangoon, Spam Chilaquiles, a “Sunrise Spamabelle Quiche,” and other regional finalists. It was the seventh — yes, seventh — year he’d entered the contest.
Now, as anyone this side of Monty Python knows, it’s easy to make fun of spam. But Munson, a mechanic at Alaska Airlines, is a pretty dedicated home cook who created a straightforward but serious recipe.
I said once that most cooking competitions strike me as “more Kraft than craft,” heavy on processed ingredients and canned goods. Munson’s doughnuts, though, are — OK, except for the key ingredient — made from scratch. He uses real buttermilk and eggs and butter and flour instead of pre-fab dough. He chooses to bake them instead of frying, then tops them with rings of fried spam. The flavors were inspired, he said, by eating the famous Maple Bacon Bars at Portland’s Voodoo Doughnuts. Spam’s brand manager, Nicole Behne, said in a press release that Munson’s creation wowed the judging panel and “especially stood out for their creativity and how easy they are to make.”
Munson, whose home cooking gear includes two barbecues and a smoker — maybe next he’ll try out the barbecue circuit? — came across the spam-a-rama when his mom was entering jellies at the Puyallup Fair. He thought “I can cook that,” and began developing recipes. Over the years (last year he took third place), he’s tested out turkey spam formed in the shape of a turkey, barbecue pork and spam, and spam mac and cheese. His first testers are wife Lynn and son Jordan, then friends and colleagues. Yes, “The guys at work are like, ‘Huh? You do what?” But some of his work friends have come to cheer him on too.
He’ll be flying on an airplane, not repairing it, when he picks up his grand prize of a trip for two to Hawaii, where his recipe will be served at the Spam Jam Waikiki food festival.
Here’s his winning recipe:
Mini Maple Spam Doughnuts
Makes 24 mini doughnuts
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk + 1 tablespoon buttermilk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 (12-ounce) can Spam Hickory Smoked, Spam With Bacon or Spam Classic
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon maple flavor
For Dough: In large mixing bowl, mix flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir in 1/3 cup buttermilk, egg and melted butter. Beat together until well blended. Spoon batter into a pastry bag fitted with a round tip or a resealable plastic bag. Chill mixture for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare Spam Rings and glaze.
For Spam Rings: Remove the Spam Classic from the can and slice from the lid side to the bottom into 12 slices (each slice about 1/4-inch thick). Using a 1-1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut each slice of Spam Classic into two rounds (you should have a total of 24 rounds from the can of Spam Classic ). Using a straw, knife or small pastry tip, cut a small circle out of the center of each piece of Spam Classic to make a ring. Place rings into a large skillet and fry until golden brown on both sides (repeat as necessary with spam rings); set aside. Take the remaining scrape pieces of Spam Classic and finely dice. Place the diced Spam Classic into the same skillet and fry until golden brown; set aside.
For Glaze: In small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, maple flavor and remaining 1 tablespoon of buttermilk until well combined; set aside.
For Doughnuts: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator. Spray a mini doughnut pan with nonstick cooking spray. Pipe batter into the mini doughnut tin; filling 2/3 of the way full (if using a resealable plastic bag snip the corner of the bag and pipe batter into the mini doughnut pan). Place the Spam Classic Rings on top of the dough. Bake for 10 minutes or until the doughnuts spring back when touched. Allow the doughnuts to cool slightly and then carefully remove from the pan. Spread the prepared maple glaze over the doughnuts and top with the diced Spam Classic for sprinkles. Repeat as necessary with the remaining dough and Spam Rings. Serve doughnuts slightly warm.