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.