The Doughnut Renaissance – from deep fried to designer. Part 1

Doughnuts have been getting bad press for a long time.  There was a sad period in the last ten years where more and more Dunkin’ Donuts stores were closed, and Krispy Kreme had a great start but really short life here in Canada.  The innocent doughnut got caught up in the anti-carb backlash.

It was getting to the point where the only place I could go for a good old fashioned doughnut fix was Tiny Tom’s doughnuts, but that meant waiting until carnival season at the Canadian National Exhibition to get my hands on some deep fried carb goodness, and even then they’d only be there for a couple of weeks.

In an effort to satisfy my craving,  I started to investigate doughnut options from other countries because practically every culture and every country has a desert that involves deep fried dough and here are a couple of my  favourites.

My adventures in Mexican food led me to churros. Churros are  long cylinder shaped doughnuts usually filled with dulce de leche, chocolate sauce or condensed milk.  The churro is choux pastry that is piped through a pastry bag into hot oil.  They are usually served warm and sometimes dusted with cinnamon and icing sugar.   Available at Mexican and South American bakeries with some variation with the fillings, but all are fried.

Loucoumades, Greek fried dough

Bakeries bring heart warming memories for me.  I grew up in a Greek neighbourhood and went to school right across the street for a wonderful little bakery.  The smell of anise and fresh baked bread with sesame seeds is what filled the air when I left school to walk home for lunch everyday.  My friends and I would cross the street and watch the baker fill the window with round breads, doughnuts with the shiniest chocolate glaze we’d everseen and small shiny honey syrup soaked fried dough balls called, loucoumades.  They are also interestingly sometimes shaped like large churros at some bakeries, probably also a regional variation.  Wonderful and warm and a very cheap sweet fix at about $2.75 for a half dozen.

Zeppole, an Italian favourite

Last but not least is Italian Zeppole.  The dough base is much the same as both the churro, choux pastry through a pastry bag made into the shape of a doughnut and fried.  Zeppole are traditionally only available at Easter.  So make sure not to miss them next season.  Zeppole is usually filled with custard but can be filled with whipped cream.  It’s one of those pastries that I sometimes spent weeks counting down the days until they arrive at my favourite Italian bakery.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my review of the doughnut revival that Toronto is currently experiencing with some new doughnut boutiques that are coming on the scene.

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