One of San Francisco's best doughnuts has never seen the inside of a Fryolator. Okay, so the oven-baked morning bun ($3.50) at Pinkie's Bakery in SOMA isn't a doughnut, though it offers all the comforts of one: an all-over sanding of cinnamon sugar that feels good against your lips, an interior texture of finely articulated air chambers. It compresses when you bite it, and springs back when you put it down to take a sip of coffee.
In fact, says Pinkie's owner, Cheryl Burr, the morning bun is made from the house challah dough, with four discrete applications of butter: 1) kneaded into the challah itself; 2) spread on the rolled-out dough; 3) brushed atop the formed rolls; and 4) shellacked onto the just-baked buns, before the application of sugar. Somewhere, amid all that buttering, lurks the true genius of Pinkie's morning rolls: a thin veneer of house-made apple butter, jelly-rolled into the spiral. Burr cooks down Granny Smiths for five hours with vanilla beans and sticks of cinnamon, then perfumes the resulting pomade with Meyer lemon zest. You'd probably never know that apple butter was there in the finished bun. It's more shadow than presence, a sweet-tart shading with the kind of subtlety that — let's face it — would be pretty much lost on the doughnut, which prefers its jelly oozing, and a shade of red cooked up in a chemistry lab.