Early on my first morning in the coffeehouse-crazed city of Vienna, Austria, I did the unthinkable. I went to Starbucks. It was strictly a matter of necessity. I hadn’t had time to stock the kitchen in our rented apartment; and the city’s elegant, centuries-old coffee houses hadn't yet opened for the day.
But, I’m glad I went, because I also discovered the Duffin.
I knew nothing about this muffin-donut hybrid --- in the U.S. the cronut seems to get all the press. But I now know that it was developed in a London tearoom a couple of years ago, and that last fall “Duffingate” exploded when Starbucks UK’s factory supplier (Rich Products) trademarked the name, threatening the livelihood of poor little Beas’ of Bloomsbury. (Photo above by Bea's of Bloomsbury.) Nothing like a flap over global corporations trampling the under-baker to work up your appetite for a funny-shaped donut.
The Guardian and Grubstreet can tell you all the details. I’m here to tell you that it was pretty darn delicious --- moist and cakey, with a hint of buttermilk tang, a tiny pocket of raspberry jam, and a dusting of sugar on top. It’s the only decent pastry I have ever tasted in a Starbucks, on any continent.
It seems fitting that I had my first encounter with a Duffin here, smack in the shadow of Vienna’s Hofburg, family palace of the Hapsburg dynasty.
You see, this was the birthplace and home of Marie Antoinette, one of Empress Maria Theresa’s 16 kids. From my windows I can see the wing of "palace apartments" and the Burg garden where the kiddies played.
If only Marie Antoinette had let the angry people eat Duffins instead of cake, she just might have held on to her head a bit longer.