11 July 2022
I don't think Ned knew that we were coming into National Donut week, but he
brought home a bunch of donut holes. I absolutely love donuts.
Doughnuts are said to have been invented by the Dutch in the 19th century.
Known as ‘olykoeks,’ or ‘oil cakes,’ the dough was deep-fried until it turned
golden brown. The fried dough often remained uncooked so it was also filled with
nuts, fruit preserves, or cream. Then, in 1847, Hanson Gregory, an American sea
captain, punched a hole in the center of the dough to ensure that it cooked
fully. Thus, we have Captain Gregory to thank for the modern-day doughnut shape
with a hole in the middle. To not waste the dough that would be removed from the
middle of a doughnut, bakeries also fry the ‘doughnut balls’ and sell them as
‘munchkins.’ In other cultures, such as the Middle East, doughnuts are also made
using a liquid mixture of flour and water that is first deep-fried, and then
glazed with a special rose sugar syrup and further garnished with nuts.
National Doughnut Week was first celebrated by Christopher Freeman 29 years ago.
Freeman is the director of the Dunns Bakery in the U.K. The bakery is no less
than a historical relic as it was established and acquired by the Freeman family
almost 200 years ago.
I came to be a lover of donuts when I was attending UC Berkeley. I would
go to Mass in the morning with a bunch of friends from Newman Hall and then we
would walk down to a bakery a couple of blocks away. The bakery sold
freshly made donuts and I had a warm glazed donut with a cup of hot chocolate
every morning. I still think fondly of those days. (How I miss hot
are all sorts of donut types and if you read recommendations for donut bakeries,
they seem to spend time talking about the unusual one and the highest rated
bakeries are those with lots of unusual decorated or flavored donuts.
I, however, am very simple. I really only like plain glazed donuts.
A second would be sugar donuts (just donut rolled in plain sugar), but really
the glazed are my favorite. (I also like plain, unraised donuts with nothing on
them at all. Just fried donuts, but I prefer the raised yeast donuts to
the unraised donuts)
Whenever I bought donuts for the house, in the days when I could drive and could
sneak out early in the morning to get donuts, I always bought glazed, sugar, and
chocolate donuts. Walt likes chocolate and I would usually have one and
then be disappointed because much as I like chocolate, I just don't like
chocolate donuts as well as the glazed.
I loved it when drug representatives came to the medical office I worked in,
trying to sell their latest drug to the doctors. They would bring big
boxes of donuts for the whole staff. The donuts would sit in the kitchen
and I'm afraid I usually had more than my share.
One of my favorite memories of growing up in San Francisco was a donut machine
on Market Street, across from the Emporium. You could stand there and
watch the donuts be cooked and moved on a conveyor belt. I don't know that
I ever bought any donuts from that machine, but I loved watching them being
I'm glad donuts have their own special week.