It’s the latest dessert that’s been all over the news: the duffin. Despite having worked near the café Bea’s of Bloomsbury, which makes the original duffin, I had never heard of it, let alone tried it prior to the media storm. Could a snack really be that good to inspire social media outrage, along with scores of articles in the press?
On a rainy and gray London day, I set to find out if the treat justified the fuss.
A mix between a muffin and doughnut, the duffin is made with buttermilk, flavored with nutmeg, filled with raspberry jam, dipped in butter and coated with sugar.
Duffingate started last week when Starbucks UK added the duffin to its menu, claiming it had invented the treat. The loyal customers of Bea’s of Bloomsbury couldn’t let the corporate behemoth get away with what seemed like pastry plagiarism, and rose up on Twitter and Facebook, in a David vs. Goliath battle for baked good justice.
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After checking it out in person, I realized that the uproar is as much about supporting an independent operation as it is passion for the product. With the consistency of a dense muffin and the flavor of a doughnut, the duffin isn't exactly the best of both as Bea’s, Starbucks and fans claim. Raspberry jelly oozes out the top, but there’s not enough throughout the muffin to give each bite flavor. Sugar coats the outside, but doesn’t add very much to the overall taste – although the nutmeg does give it a little extra pop.
All in all, it’s a nice treat if someone brought a box into the office. Instead, it’s the shop’s banana loaf, massive meringues and beautifully decorated cupcakes in flavors like tiramisu, lemon meringue and chocolate peanut butter that really stand out.
The real question for both Bea’s and Starbucks is whether the duffin will stay a best seller. Before duffingate, Bea’s cozy Bloomsbury location was only selling six to 10 duffins a day, but the controversy has been good for business. With four locations around London, the independent café now makes hundreds and hundreds a day. On the weekends, when previously the bakery didn’t make duffins, it now has plates piled high with the sticky snack.
Despite the duffin rage of the last week, Bea’s staff look forward to focusing on other desserts, according to manager Nicole Obidowski.
“Our chefs are now working on a poached pear tart,” Obidowski told TODAY.com. “They’ve had to make so many duffins over the last week that they can’t wait to concentrate on something else.”