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?
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.)
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