Aromas of a hot apple pie, gently bubbling baked beans, soups, sizzling steaks or roasts, herb scented salads, smokey kitchens somehow always ignite those mysterious
sensors hidden away in the depth of our nose. And they in turn trigger a need to activate taste buds and swallow.
Memories of a mother, clad in a full apron, standing over the stove. A friends’ mother preparing treats we’d never see in our own home. Or a grandmother handing us a cookie so perfectly prepared in shape, decor, color and flavor.
But there are few things capable of tantalizing one’s sense of smell or that can stimulate delight in one’s sense of taste, as a home-made donut!
Actually, we can’t think of many!
Those sublime rings of still hot, deep-fried dough, tossed in variations of sugar, and served with a fresh, strong coffee. Ummm, umh!
Donuts are described in Larousse Gastronomique (our personal food preparation and history bible) as follows: A traditional pàtisserie of Quebec prepared from leavened dough (flour, eggs, milk and butter), often made in the shape of a ring, and deep-fried. It is eaten hot, or at room temperature, plain or sprinkled with sugar.
No, donuts were never intended to resemble those ridiculous wet pastry, previously partially cooked, shelf stale, over iced, candy sprinkled, multi-flavored artery clogging fat masses fittingly produced as junk food.
We picked up a rumor late last week suggesting the availability (possibly) of home-made donuts at Gregor’s Place in the Morrisburg Mall.
So we had to ask!!!
Sure enough four-year owner Benita Tippins (chief of everything about Gregor’s) told us to drop by the following morning at 6:00 a.m. and we could try her creations. And we did.
Now Benita possibly didn’t realize telling us “fresh home-made donuts will be ready at . . .” would be taken that seriously. Which, from our perspective, explains why we arrived at 5:50 a.m. Real home-made donuts.
“I learned everything about cooking from my grandmother (who was the mother of 12 children),” says the one time graduate of George Chan’s Hollywood Cafe. Benita
exercises a work ethic and an attention to customer requests and service that could only be learned from grand-mothers and George Chan. She has worked in the food industry “. . . since I was
thirteen years old,” but we daren’t ask her age.
And when we mentioned “. . . recipe,” our sentence was immediately curbed with a rather stern “No!”
Clients dining at Gregor’s Place are offered a breakfast and lunch menu as extensive in choices as it is affordable in price, and Benita is widely known for her desserts (lemon meringue pie). An award winning pie baker actually.
We ask when the donuts are going to be streamed into a regular spot on the menu
“I’m just testing to see if people like them,” she says, as she smiles and watches us devour a second straight from the fryer and the sugar sprinkler. “I’m thinking of putting them on the menu maybe once a week.”
We’re thinking, ‘Ya, and how about starting right now!!!’
We have taste tested the donuts at the perfect time, with a piping hot coffee. Sampled two! Er, we mean three. Ya, three.
“Now here’s half a dozen for you to take home for you and Sonja!” she says somewhat sternly, like we, of all people, might be considering the negative aspects of sharing. Donuts! Fresh, hot, home-made donuts! C’mon!
“No,” We feign, “We can’t eat any more of those!”
We’re lying! Straight out! And we’re hoping beyond all hope, having already conceived a second lie about that first lie, just in case she says something like, “Oh, alright, I’ll leave them here for someone else.”
Be still my heart! We feel faint at the thought.
Fortunately, she insists.
We accept her offering, handed to us in a brown paper bag with the minute beginnings of deep-fried staining on it’s bottom. Rushing home, gently awaking our snoozing
partner we announce we have some of Benita’s donuts. Still hot.
“Hurry up,” we encourage, threatened by the thought of them cooling too quickly, “I’ll put the coffee on!”
We added an extra measure of coffee to the pot, grabbed two mugs and added the cream, dolled out a measure for each of us, handing her the mug and a dessert plate with two, still hot donuts sprinkled with cinamon sugar. She smiles, takes a bite, and purrs.
Another bite and another “mmmmm!”
We pick-up our coffee and plate with two donuts, somehow both larger than the ones given her, and devour them as easily as though it was our first. Was it one? Ya, er, I mean three!
We then ask if anyone would like another donut. Declined. To our joy!
So we eat the other three! That sneaky Benita put seven in the bag. Maybe she doesn’t know there are six in a half dozen. Aren’t there?
Gregor’s Place is on the Morrisburg Mall. Open Monday to Friday 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Saturday 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
And we hear Benita’s playing with cinamon rolls.
Er, no! That’s a lie too. Not a rumor! We’ve already tasted one. Ummm ummh!!!
Buttermilk gives these old-fashioned cake doughnuts their tangy appeal; a dusting of sugar and freshly grated nutmeg adds a spicy crunch.
3 1/2 cups flour
1 2/3 cups sugar
3 tbsp. freshly grated
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 egg white
1 cup buttermilk
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Canola oil, for frying
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tbsp. nutmeg, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside. In a bowl, whisk together egg and egg white until frothy. Whisk in buttermilk and butter. Stir buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients to form a dough. Transfer dough to a floured surface; gently roll to 1/2” thickness. Using a floured 3 1/4” round cookie cutter, cut out rounds of dough and transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Gather dough scraps, knead briefly to form a ball; flatten and cut out more rounds. Repeat until all dough is used. Using a 1 3/8” round cookie cutter, cut out center of each round. Chill doughnuts and holes for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine remaining sugar and nutmeg in a large paper bag; set aside.
2. Pour oil into a 6-qt. Dutch oven to a depth of 2”; heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reads 325°. Working in small batches, fry doughnuts and holes, turning, until golden brown, 2–3 minutes for doughnuts and 1–2 minutes for holes. Using tongs, transfer doughnuts to a wire rack to drain. Shake doughnuts and holes in the paper bag to coat in the nutmeg-sugar.