Doughnut making: a patriotic duty

We knew that doughnuts weren’t health food when I was a kid but my grandmother still made them often. (Other regular items on her menus were cinnamon buns, a silky, chilled potato and Swiss chard borscht finished with sweet, rich cream and a slew of other super yummy stuff that today would be classified as ‘bad.’) My Baba’s doughnuts were light, fluffy yeast leavened pillows that she either dusted with icing sugar or served with homemade jam. I didn’t drink coffee in those days but they would have been great with java.

In those days, making doughnuts was great fun but unnecessary because Canada was still a Mecca for doughnut lovers. We had Tim Horton’s and Mister Donut where onsite several times a day fresh donuts were fried and glazed. Anytime you went to one of these shops, rows of doughnuts sat ready to help you through your sweet craving.

Today Mr. Donut is a faded memory at best and Tim Horton’s is now in the coffee and sandwich business. As a result, they’ve modified their doughnuts to streamline production. In fact, I heard the doughnuts now arrive at TH stores frozen and par-cooked. The result is that their doughnuts are sadly heavy and much less appealing than they once were.

Due to these changes in the Canadian restaurant landscape, I’ve had to dust off my doughnut making skills and fry up my own at home when I get a hankering for my national snack. There’s just no other way to get a satisfying doughnut.

You’re likely reading this post and thinking that I’ve flipped. In light of what we all know about nutrition, how can I be advocating making doughnuts? Before you close your mind, remember: doughnuts are part of our Canadian food heritage. We must put our health aside to preserve our culture for future generations. It’s our patriotic duty to dig on doughnuts! Honest.

Ready to get started? The doughnuts pictured above were made using the basic coffee cake dough in Anne Willan’s classic Lavarenne Practique cookbook but I’m sure any other coffeecake dough would work as well (for fritters try brioche dough). If you prefer cake doughnuts, try this recipe from the Homemaker’s archive.

Also, if you know a place that still sells great doughnuts, be sure to note it below so that we can all support these noble destinations.


20 Responses to Doughnut making: a patriotic duty

  1. Beth says:

    Mmm…donuts! While there’s nothing like a good donut, bad donuts are one of the worst things to endure.

    I like Krispy Kreme donuts when they were making them fresh here in Canada, but the ones available in stores pre-made are a sad substitute.

  2. Diane says:

    Huh……that sweet smell…of Baba’s fine creations….never had a measuring tool around…just eye balling every measurement……thanx for bringing back some of those great memories…!


  3. Cheryl says:

    Okay, you are an evil temptress. I’ve never actually made donuts before, but since I can no longer get myself to stop at transfat-laden donut shops I may have to give these a go. (I have great memories of taking really early flights a few times in my 20s and stopping at an all-night donut place on the way to the airport. Something about donuts at 3am seemed especially decadent.)

    Do I have to sing the Canadian national anthem as I fry?

  4. Rosa says:

    I love doughnuts! Such a wonderful treat! What a great tool…

    Ovomaltine is similar to Ovaltine (the drink). Yes, I used that to make my bread!…



  5. nana says:

    Hi well your blog brought back a family memory,My mom used to bake a big canister full and even th holes which Horton’s call tim bits ,my young brother had to get himself lunch as our mom worked and he made a deal with the milkman ,he traded doughnuts for some chocolate milk both were very happy with the deal ,I was away and married when all this went on but mom was a great cook and i had tasted them over the years..

  6. danamccauley says:

    Cheryl, the national anthem is optional but saying ‘eh’ a few times would be appreciated!

    Rosa, thanks for the malt clarification!

    Nana, your brother sounds like he was a smart kid. Is he a business man or a negotiator now?

    Diane, great to see you here – hope all is well!

    Beth, I agree, the KK donuts in boxes aren’t worth the calories.

  7. bunny says:

    I love yeast donuts!! I’ve never made them and my mother never made donuts from scratch. she use to take a can of refrigerator biscuits and poke a hole in the center and fry them. the one time i made donuts they were cake donuts and i was very dissappointed. when i read your post you said any coffee cake recipe will make donuts. i never knew that, i figured it would have to be a bread dough. I’m going to try yeast donuts when my schedule permits it. Cananda must be donut heaven!! can i be an honorary Canaian???!!!

  8. Cakespy says:

    I think that above Beth said it nicely–bad donuts are one of the worst things to endure. And honestly, I think that having a doughnut / donut now and again is not such a bad thing. Probably not a good everyday food, definitely not a “health” food, but I recently learned that many of them are actually less calorically dense than scones or muffins! While in general calories don’t stop me from enjoying a treat, maybe it will make others love and allow themselves donuts more often! I hope so.

    ESPECIALLY if they’re home-made!!!

  9. dinnerwithjulie says:

    Mmmmmmmmm donuts. I’m a fan of the mini variety – cut with a shot glass and punch a hole in the middle with your finger! YUM.

    And Tag – you’re it! Visit my blog for the questions.
    The rules:
    Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

  10. Kitt says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever had a homemade doughnut!

    If they make you happy, they are good for you.

  11. Christine says:

    I love the smell of homemade doughnuts. Back when I was a kid we used to make an assortment of goodies, just like you. However, everything wasn’t supersized but done in moderation.

    Ugh I was tagging you for meme but dinner with julie beat me to it!

  12. danamccauley says:

    This must be my ‘popular’ day. I should check my horoscope : )

  13. Kitt says:

    It’s the Power of Doughnuts.

  14. Deborah says:

    I’m a believer in everything in moderation. If you went through life thinking you could never have a doughnut, life just wouldn’t be fun! 🙂

    These doughnuts look so delicious. And although I’m not Canadian, I think you should keep the tradition alive!

  15. danamccauley says:

    Canadians are a sharing people. Do help us keep the tradition alive Deborah!

  16. Martin Kouprie says:

    Seeing donuts fried in oil always takes my mind back to the souks in Marrakech. There they are prepared in a 4 foot by 4 foot oil bath with the cook sitting just inches from the flame under his wok shaped kettle filled with hot oil. The finished donuts are strung together on hemp string like beads on a necklace which makes for easy carrying. Mint tea and hot donuts!

  17. […] consistency. (This mixture is just a slightly thicker version of the glaze I use for my homemade doughnuts, btw). I transferred this glaze mixture to a plastic bag, nipped off one corner and then drizzled […]

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