We were all set to do Olympia’s Donut Dash on Sunday, but at race time my youngest was still snoozing. She snores with surprising gusto for a 40 pound girl, and I don’t believe in waking children up unless their bedrooms are on fire. So we didn’t dash. But it didn’t matter because I had surmised, after some careful questioning, that it wasn’t the dash that interested her, it was the donut. Fair enough.
We hardly ever get donuts because they are little grenades of sugar and trans fats. But they are tasty grenades. I love donuts with a pure love, the kind I reserve for only that which could destroy me. I love them like I love bad telly: Lipstick Jungle, Mistresses – the British version of course (give me some credit!) – and even, in a weak(er) moment, Hart of Dixie. I now stand naked before you in all my shame. Unlike my chocolate cake that the painter so touchingly epigrammed, donuts demand to be loved. They drug you with a hyperpalatable cocktail of sugar and chemically-altered lard, then drag you back to their cave of lust and gluttony.
Once, on the way to see friends, we stopped at Top Pot in Seattle. I got my youngest her first donut and she had a few enthusiastic bites, but moments later she was conked out. I looked into the back seat to see the donut resting on her tiny chest, little hands and sleeping face sticky with pink icing and coconut flakes from Top Pot’s “Pink Feather Boa.” The wave of sugar and its aftermath proved too much for her.
On Sunday I did buy her a donut, but resisted getting one for myself. Knowing Fat Tuesday was just around the corner, I had a feeling this wouldn’t be my last chance to indulge. Sure enough, I found out the Shrove Tuesday celebration at my church was set to include beignets, the treat that may be responsible for the notorious corruption of the New Orleans’ police force. You’d accept bribes too, if they came in the form of these warm, scrumptious little numbers.
I am sure you know where this is leading, just as I knew: I decided to make donuts. My mother and I made some in a deep fryer once and they were transcendent – we didn’t even need to frost them. I don’t own a deep fryer, for what I think are fairly obvious reasons. But a shallow fry is sufficient; when I was growing up, my mom would make a version of pan-fried bread, using whole wheat flour, and it was such a treat. I am her daughter, so I wanted to use whole wheat pastry flour. The sugar, the frying…if I used white flour too I just didn’t know if I could live with myself. And again, because I am her daughter, I decided to slip some flax seed meal into them. I put it in everything, just like my mom tried to stow away brewer’s yeast, millet and, occasionally, tofu into what we ate. I am having a greater degree of success with my subterfuge.
We made them using this recipe and they were neither round, nor pretty. They were a ragtag band of pilgrims, all shapes, sizes and degrees of doneness from burnt to raw. Our donuts were so ugly I can’t include the picture. it’s like Awkward Family Photos: the food version. BUT THEY WERE DELICIOUS. I buy the occasional fancy cake accessory from Bake it Pretty, and the name always makes me wish that I baked thing pretty more often. Sometimes I do bake it pretty, but I can’t Fry it Pretty.
P.S. Here is something I did bake pretty – my friend Kathleen’s recent birthday cake: