Glazed and Enthused

Breakfast, Days Inn. Billings, Montana.

Breakfast, Days Inn. Billings, Montana.

This week’s culinary hyperbole took the form of Krispy Kreme french toast. We went with our awesome and pub-brunch-savvy Madison buddies to The Shamrock, an awesome local gay bar. Out gracious host convinced the cooks to make their occasional delicacy: Krispy Kreme French toast. Which is what it sounds like. 

Our waiter himself was skeptical about the dish, but our table was in such collective hysterics as it emerged from the kitchen that he felt compelled to sample it. His immediate response included a pirouette, a shriek and a stuffed-mouth exclamation that was something to the effect of “oh my god I think I’m going to die.”

Personally, it was a bit TOO much even for the likes of me - Krispy Kremes are kind of cloying for my liking (though I have more to say about this. Post forthcoming) and the egg-soaked-fried-ness didn’t so much help with this factor. Still, it was pretty awesome as a breakfast feat. I have the deepest fried respect.

This week’s culinary hyperbole took the form of Krispy Kreme french toast. We went with our awesome and pub-brunch-savvy Madison buddies to The Shamrock, an awesome local gay bar. Out gracious host convinced the cooks to make their occasional delicacy: Krispy Kreme French toast. Which is what it sounds like.

Our waiter himself was skeptical about the dish, but our table was in such collective hysterics as it emerged from the kitchen that he felt compelled to sample it. His immediate response included a pirouette, a shriek and a stuffed-mouth exclamation that was something to the effect of “oh my god I think I’m going to die.”

Personally, it was a bit TOO much even for the likes of me - Krispy Kremes are kind of cloying for my liking (though I have more to say about this. Post forthcoming) and the egg-soaked-fried-ness didn’t so much help with this factor. Still, it was pretty awesome as a breakfast feat. I have the deepest fried respect.

We arrived in Milwaukee last night to find that our illustrious hosts, Chris & Milo (from QZAP- check its awesomeness out!) had made us HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE DONUTS. Did I mention there was homemade glaze? And sprinkles? Some people have a direct IN to my heart.

We arrived in Milwaukee last night to find that our illustrious hosts, Chris & Milo (from QZAP- check its awesomeness out!) had made us HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE DONUTS. Did I mention there was homemade glaze? And sprinkles? Some people have a direct IN to my heart.

Raspberry rhubarb ‘blisscakes’ with granola & vanilla marscapone at M Henry in Chicago. Godly.

Raspberry rhubarb ‘blisscakes’ with granola & vanilla marscapone at M Henry in Chicago. Godly.

Staying with some lovely people in Chicago who actually OWN the famed mini-donut-maker. Color me very jealous.

Staying with some lovely people in Chicago who actually OWN the famed mini-donut-maker. Color me very jealous.

Lone Star Bakery, Austin, TX.

Since we were in Austin two years ago and a donut-loving friend brought us one of Lone Star Bakery’s famed Texas-sized donuts, I’ve been theoretically smitten.  Said donut was the size of an ample birthday cake and was a delightful raised confection, feeding a dessert-hungry rock band and then some.

So this time around, now that we’re here in Austin for SXSW for the week anyway, we decided to make the pilgrimage.  We did not, in fact, EAT another Texas-sized donut, but we did visit it:

Don’t be put off by the orange-y glaze.  It’s kind of weird, admittedly, but it actually tastes quite good.  It’s a flavorful & light glaze and it’s one thing they do very well.

Also of note were the teeny cake donuts — I tried the blueberry and the applesauce and they were dreamy coffee companions.  Small and manageable and the fresh fruit tones are so there, in the best way.

We came back with a collection of donuts that put us out approximately $3.76.  Highlights included the cinnamon twist (reliably + off-puttingly orange) and a delicious raspberry jam.

606 R&D, Brooklyn.

Here are my belated critical takeaways from 606 R&D, the new cocktail place/restaurant/donut shop in Prospect Heights:

-The shop is lovely.  The donuts — three perfectly-sized cake varieties: plain, cinnamon and powdered sugar — are light and delicious.  AND a perfect not-too-big-not-too-small size.  The coffee is beyond decent and served in a French press.  And — possibly most importantly — our donuts came on mismatched floral china, set up on vintage tin trays, accompanied by white glass cream pitchers.  34 whimsy points, hands down.

-The people who work there are SO NICE that if you go in on the first day after they’ve opened for business and announce that it is your birthday AND you have a donut blog, they will let you come back behind the counter and MEET THE DONUT ROBOT (the product of owners Sara Dima and Ilene Rosen’s kickstarter last month).  And to dorkily photograph it repeatedly.  Its name, btw, is Mark.  A classic donut robot moniker if I ever heard one.  

Oh, and 53 more whimsy points for donut/coffee/plate-gazing-conducive ambience:

I’ve having been a sworn yeast donut devotee in years and months past, I feel something of a cake donut phase coming on in my (ahem) older age.  (Stellar cake donutry blocks from my house doesn’t hurt).

This week: A pictorial roundup.

My friends: there is an ANGEL OF DONUTS.  Our Lady of Donuts?  Saint Doughnut?  Found completely by accident (slash by way of a total TWIST OF FATE) at an awesome DIY space we played in Bethlehem, PA. 

Dough: Outtakes.  Apparently there is something EXTRAORDINARILY funny about these donuts.

I’m a little bit too embarrassed to reveal exactly HOW many people sent me this today.  Also, to admit just HOW too-close-for-comfort it all is.  Ah, well.

Finally, my new buddy Sienna (we met at aforementioned Bethlehem show) turns a punkrock beanbag into a donut before our very eyes.  Stroke of genius, I’d say.

More Dough.  Just some run-of-the-mill display case porn.  Blurrily rendered, just how I like it.

Last but very much not least: essential do(ugh)nut reading over at Serious Eats.  I’m studying this thing, like, harder than I studied for most things in college.  Still working it out personally re: the whole “doughnut” vs. “donut” debate — more to come on this front, obviously.  Also, this makes me so psyched to be going on tour this fall, mostly ‘cause: BEIGNETS.  Et al.

A Hole in Three: Leah Koenig, food writer

In which I talk to donut-passionate people.  To the tune of 3 questions.  And a donut self-portrait.

Leah Koenig is a food writer, cookbook author, and budding donut genius.  Her cookbook is available for purchase HERE. (Full disclosure: she is also my sister-in-law.)

Q: As a food writer who just made it through to the other side of Chanukah donut season, you’ve had to do your share of donut recipe-testing.  What was the most gratifying part of this?  And the most horrifying?

A: Oh man, it was definitely a doughnut filled season. In the lead up to Chanukah - for recipe testing sake, for personal doughnut-consumption sake, and to sell at a concert - I fried something like 350 doughnuts! The most revelatory moment for me was biting into a warm apple cider doughnut filled with salted caramel cream. I’m pretty sure some angels sang, or got wings, or whatever they do.

The most horrifying aspect, for sure, is the amount of leftover oil I had after all that frying. 350 doughnuts equals about 7 gallons of oil which, after some Googling, I found out is kind of impossible to elegantly dispose of. If you pour it down your drain things supposedly get ugly. Luckily, through a friend of a friend I found a guy who runs his diesel-engine car on used veggie oil (not bio-diesel, straight up oil). I helped him lug the oil down to his car one afternoon and got to see how it works - his trunk is basically filled with this sprawling Rube Goldberg-type set-up. It’s pretty awesome, and within minutes there were people walking over to find out what he was doing. He said he gets that all the time.

Q: You’ve also done your share of food-focused globetrotting.  Can you recall a notable fried roundthing (can be a donut or a distant donut cousin) from your recent culinary travels?

A: Oh, so many! I love Mighty-O in Seattle, Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, Dough here in NYC, and Willow Bake Shoppe in Rockport, Maine. But the doughnuts they sell at the farmers market in Oak Park, Illinois where I grew up are hands-down the best I’ve ever eaten. I’ve written reverently about these doughnuts before, and am honored to do so again. They’re freshly fried in the basement of the church that houses the market - so they’re crackly on the outside, sweet and cake-y inside, and covered with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. No fancy pants sprinkles or icing for these doughnuts - they’re simple and totally perfect. 

Q: You recently wrote your first cookbook!  If your second cookbook was all about donuts, what would the very first (and in this theoretical, thus your favorite) recipe be and why?  (Bonus points if you actually COMMIT to writing a donut cookbook and if you tell me what it’s gonna be called).

A: Oh my. The first page would probably be yet another ode to the Oak Park farmers market doughnuts. (Seriously, go book a ticket to Chicago right now so you can try one!) After that, I’d probably go for something jelly-filled like the peanut butter doughnut with blackberry jam filling at Doughnut Plant.
As for the title - any chance you want to partner with me on writing it, so I can steal “Glazed and Enthused?” 

(Ed: BY ALL MEANS YES.)