Lately, I’ve been doughnut-ing vicariously, via phone calls from Toronto with @beerswithbrahms. Though still on lock-down, Toronto continues to boast some fine doughnut options and last Sunday, I waited to hear what @harryandheelsdonuts was offering. From afar, I contemplated their stellar line-up: buttermilk cruller sticks, cream-filled chocolate glazed and cream-filled original glazed, apple fritters, toasted coconut, maple, Hawaiian, cinnamon sugar, and sprinkle. The color photos posted on the web capture the pillowy, deep-fat fried indulgences in torturous detail. I wanted one of each.
It’s an inherited trait, my love for doughnuts. My father was keen on all varieties; yeast risen, cake-y, cream-filled and dunked in shiny chocolate, plump with jelly or buried under a blizzard of powdered sugar. My dad loved a good cider doughnut crunchy with cinnamon sugar, and a twisted cruller with pockets of vanilla glaze. Luckily, I also share my dad’s penchant for running which ultimately translates in doughnut-speak to ‘calories in, calories out.’
My gene pool is not the sole culprit of my doughnut problem. For years, my Saturday workday began with a circle of fried dough. Just beyond the screen door at Tabora Farms in Bucks County, PA proprietor and gluten-enabler Roger Eatherton religiously commandeered the doughnut machine. On Saturday mornings, Roger methodically dispensed cider doughnut batter out of a depositer into a hot pool of vegetable oil. The air swirling around Roger’s baseball cap was thick with a veil of grease and a cloud of cinnamon sugar. Despite my protestations of “coffee first,” it was impossible to refuse the fresh doughnut Roger clutched in a pair of commercial kitchen tongs. To this day, cinnamon and sugar instantly conjure a baker’s rack overfilled with dangerously hot doughnuts.
While Krispy Kreme and Tim Hortons are capable of delivering perfectly agreeable doughnuts, they tend to be a little too sweet for my liking. Admittedly, I’m pretty particular in my quest for a fine doughnut; blame it on my work environment.
Always on the hunt for bakers who turn out doughnuts that surprise, I seek fillings that complement a lofty dough, resonating with fresh, not artificial, flavor. One doughnut that haunts my dreams is the raspberry filled Voodoo Doll from Portland, Oregon’s Voodoo Doughnut. (I can also happily vouch for their bacon-maple bar and their Bavarian cream-filled-chocolate-glazed Portland Cream.) Closer to home, Camden, Maine boasts Ruckus Donuts, with yeasted offerings well worth the eight hour drive, particularly their peach-raspberry pie doughnut.
With little chance of traveling to Toronto or the Pacific Northwest or the coast of Maine this week, I was forced to take doughnut matters into my own hands. A classic brioche-like dough provided the perfect vessel for two springtime fillings; Ottolenghi’s saffron pastry cream (with an added hint of orange zest) and a rhubarb-strawberry compote. Keen on doughnut holes because their diminutive size makes them wonderfully easy to eat, I opted for a classic doughnut, using a cutter from my grandmother Minnie’s collection. The doughnuts pouff up with great abandon once they hit the hot oil, providing ample room for the fillings. Neither Roger nor my father would have approved of a doughnut rolled in cardamom sugar, but I wish they were still around to debate this over a few cups of coffee and a doughnut just out of the fryer.
Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm