Hello! I wish you a most happiest of Gastro Fridays! For this week?s Gastro Friday, I?d like to talk about my food studies class on doughnuts. When I first realized I could get away with eating doughnuts in class, I totally had a Homer Simpson-esque moment. I gurgled for a spell, drooled a bit, and started unconsciously chewing on the closest thing to me, a plastic bag. Ain?t no shame in this game, people. Ain?t NO shame. I love doughnuts because just about every country in the world has their own version of fried, sweetened dough. Mexico has sopapillas and churros, France has delicious beignets, and who could forget the German jelly or custard-filled bismark? Legend has it the Dutch first brought doughnuts to the shores of the United States. Next to Amsterdam, it was probably the coolest thing the Dutch have ever done for the world.
Here in the U.S., we have two standard kinds of doughnuts: yeast-raised and cake. Yeast-raised were the first kind of doughnuts made, and it was definitely a labor-intensive process. Mix the dough, let it rise. Knead it again, let it rise. Cut into doughnuts, do a quick line dance to the gods of bread-making that involves the sacrifice of a small teddy bear, let it rise again, and then deep fry it in a vat of hot oil. Yeast-raised doughnuts are are very light in texture, almost fluffy when you eat them straight out of the deep fryer.
Cake doughnuts didn’t pop up until 1835, when baking powder was invented. This made doughnut making a significantly easier process because there was no need to let the dough rise. Much like a traditional cake, baking powder does the work of leavening the doughnut. This doughnut has a definite cake-like texture, a bit heavier than the yeast-raised, but if done right, hot damn delicious. Before you ask, no. We did not make doughnuts in class. I stopped snorting crack last week after the great pizza lab from HELL, thank you very much. Plus, me, 18 teens, and a vat of bubbling oil? I?ve set fires with hot oil in my own APARTMENT. No need to traumatize the kids too.
Nope, I decided to stick to what I know best: eating. I decided to go with Dinkel?s Bakery, a German bakery on the north side of Chicago that has been open since 1922. The main reason?
These bad boys?the most tender, fluffy cake doughnuts this side of Lake Michigan. They were the best doughnuts I have had in years. It was slightly crisp on the outside, and so delicate and tender on the inside, I had to double check to make sure it was a cake doughnut. I made sure to get an assortment of doughnuts, yeast-raised glazed, raspberry jelly, buttermilk old fashioned, cinnamon sugar, etc. No crazy strawberry dipped, rolled in Oreos for us. Just solid, traditional doughnuts.
The students dined on doughnuts before penning two haiku poems about their nuts of dough. I wanted to expose the students to alternative doughnuts as well, so I made sure to show them video clips of Voodoo doughnuts in Seattle (I am dying to try their maple bacon doughnut!) and The Donut Plant in NYC, probably the best doughnut shop I have ever been to. Everything is made from scratch, and they use creative flavors like key lime pie and peanut butter and jelly. Their jelly doughnuts are square-shaped with a hole in the middle, and the homemade jelly is piped throughout the doughnut so you get a bite of jelly and doughnut each time. I have very naughty dreams about these doughnuts that include me buying and eating an entire dozen in an hour flat. Next week, we focus on mac and cheese! ~LTG!