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The inside scoop on food in Los Angeles

Category: Doughnuts

Have a doughnut, or two, and celebrate National Donut Day

Donut

Jelly doughnut fiend Homer Simpson and doughnut-munching undercover television cops everywhere may actually be on to something. When a co-worker brings doughnuts into the office, he or she is instantly the person you want to pat on the back, shake hands with and thank repeatedly for your imminent sugar rush. These delightful round puffs of fried dough in every flavor and form are something to be celebrated, and especially today, National Donut Day.

True doughnut lovers know that only occasional doughnut eaters ... ahem, amateurs ... call the doughnut a breakfast pastry. In reality, the doughnut is an anytime treat. The light and airy dough of the raised glazed doughnut or the dense cakey dough of the crumb is meant to be savored. With so many flavors, you could essentially indulge in a different doughnut every day.

If you like the classics, maybe go with a chocolate twist, jelly or simple glazed doughnut. For the health-conscious who still like to have a bit of fun, try the baked and/or steamed doughnuts at Fonuts, and for those who love pork, snag a maple bacon doughnut from the Nickel Diner. Or there's the foie gras doughnut from Umamicatessen. Watch the video below for more places in L.A. to go to celebrate National Donut Day.

Now that we've officially got your doughnut wheels spinning, maybe we've inspired you to make a fresh doughnut at home. Check out this recipe for buttermilk doughnuts to make anytime you feel a craving coming on. (Recipe after the jump.)

I guess there really is a little Homer Simpson in all of us.

-- Jenn Harris

What the foie gras? Man meets jelly doughnut at Umamicatessen

Recipe: Yeast raised doughnuts

Recipe: Devil's food doughnuts

Photo:  Buttermilk doughnut with chocolate frosting. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times.

Continue reading »

What the foie gras? Man meets jelly doughnut at Umamicatessen

Doughnut

You may have heard of Umamicatessen. It's a new restaurant on the edge of the Jewelry District in downtown Los Angeles that has, in addition to its regular Umami Burger menu, a roster of deli sandwiches curated by Micah Wexler, chef of the swank Middle Eastern restaurant Mezze, and a pork-intensive concession called Pigg, a restaurant within a restaurant, from Chris Cosentino, who is famous in San Francisco for his offal menu at Incanto and his cured meats at Boccalone.

There are 17 different kinds of ham at Pigg, and if you're in the mood, you can get your fries drenched in an aioli flavored with pureed pigs' brains, ''brainaise.'' Umamicatessen has an extensive cocktail bar: That brainaise probably sounds like a good idea when you're on the other end of three or four Sazeracs.

We are at Umamicatessen this morning for its doughnut concession, which bears the un-Googleable name & a, which also probably sounded good after three or four Sazeracs. & a fries its doughnuts to order, which is unquestionably a good thing. You would really like the tres leches doughnut, soaked in its various dairy tinctures and served in a puddle of cajeta, Mexican caramel. The hot beignets, which come with a sort of pot de crème flavored with dark coffee and burnt citrus peel in the style of a New Orleans café brulôt, is pretty spectacular. But the object before us is a foie gras doughnut; round, hot and crisp, dusted with ground peanuts. One end leaks jam –- "forest berry'' from the cult jelly-man Robert Lambert in the Bay Area, which tastes like what the Wine Spectator means when it notes the jammy notes in a $150 Napa Cabernet Sauvignon –- and the other a loose, mild foie gras mousse.

A cynical man might insist that the foie gras was put into the doughnut mostly to justify the cost of the jam: Nobody is going to pay $8 for a jelly doughnut, no matter how life-changing. But there is that sweet spot in the middle of the doughnut where foie meets jam, the peanut dust comes into play, and you are essentially dealing with the most luxurious peanut butter and jelly sandwich in the world. It is an extraordinarily good bite. Then you're left with the rest of what is merely an extremely good doughnut, but somehow that's OK too.

846 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, (213) 413-8626. 

-- Jonathan Gold

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Photo: Jessica Gelt / Los Angeles Times

Take a look at Fonuts, set to open next month

Fonuts2

Get ready for fōnuts. Will the unfried doughnut take L.A. by storm? There will be cake fōnuts and raised (yeasted) fōnuts, in vegan and/or gluten-free incarnations. Four-star pastry chef Waylynn Lucas (Jose Andres' Bazaar, Patina) and her partner, voice actor Nancy Truman, will be selling fōnuts from their West 3rd Street location hopefully in the next few weeks. 

Lucas and Truman say they have scoured doughnut shops across Los Angeles, examined the fried rings, tweaked recipes in 5-gram increments and adjusted cooking times and temperatures to perfect their take on classic glazed, strawberry buttermilk, peanut-butter-and-jelly filled and more. There is a rosemary-olive-oil fōnut that might -- and I don't say this lightly -- blow you away. 

The cake doughnuts are vegan or both vegan and gluten-free, based on recipes concocted by Truman, who says she discovered she was wheat intolerant a couple of years ago but couldn't give up baked goods.

Lucas uses a combination of steaming and convection heat to create the raised fōnuts (which are not vegan) and brings to bear her pastry chef skills, resulting in a fluffy, light-textured baked doughnut that, with proofing time, takes two days to prepare. Flavors are winners, too: from the familiar -- cinnamon-sugar, peanut-butter-chocolate -- to the less so -- chorizo cheddar. Crack seed fans, look for a Hawaiian fōnut filled with coconut custard and sprinkled with li hing mui powder. 

Fonuts1

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-- Betty Hallock

See more photos after the jump.

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How to describe the Donut Man's strawberry specialty? Great taste, messy filling

Donut_man
For nearly four decades, the Donut Man -- a.k.a. Jim Nakano -- has been selling the wildly popular strawberry doughnut. Along with his maple bars and Bavarian creams, the strawberry doughnuts draws a steady stream of loyal customers to his Glendora shop.

Behold the Donut Man's strawberry doughnut.

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Photo: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

Baked-doughnut shop (fōnuts) set to open in June on West 3rd Street

Homer1Fōnuts. As in faux-nuts.

As in doughnuts that aren't fried, but baked. Either way ... Mmmmm, doughnuts.

Pastry chef Waylynn Lucas, who recently left the Bazaar by José Andrés and formerly worked at Patina, and her partner, voice actor Nancy Truman, plan to open their fōnut and coffee shop in the former Kiss My Bundt space on West 3rd Street. Its official name is (fōnuts), with the parentheses. Its planned opening date is National Doughnut Day, which is June 3. 

The fōnut is the brainchild of Truman, born of wheat-free banana bread batter that found its way into doughnut pans. Enter Truman's longtime friend Lucas, who has plans to take the fōnut to the next level. 

"I'm using different methods of steaming and baking at high heat to replicate the light and fluffy texture of a doughnut -- without frying," Lucas says. Some will be wheat-free and vegan, some more indulgent. Some sweet, some savory. Some with traditional flavors, some more cutting-edge. Lucas mentions a fōnut topped with olive oil powder instead of powdered sugar. 

The question is: Would you be willing to sell your soul to the devil for a fōnut?   

-- Betty Hallock

Photo: Reuters/Fox Broadcasting

Krispy Creme Challenge: Can you run with a doughnut in both hands?

Krispy Kreme300 I'm going to start training for next year's Krispy Kreme Challenge: You run two miles, eat a dozen doughnuts, and then run another two miles. Who wants to train with me?

Held Saturday morning in Raleigh, N.C., the annual event is a fundraiser for North Carolina Children's Hospital. Oddly enough, it is not sponsored by Krispy Kreme.

Here's how this "athletic" endeavor works: Competitors start at the landmark Bell Tower in Raleigh, run two miles to the nearby Krispy Kreme store for a dozen doughnuts, and then run back to the start. Race methods vary. Some stop running to eat all the doughnuts at once. Others eat them on their way back. In order to be a true "challenger" in the race, you have to do it all in under an hour.

It probably won't surprise you to learn that this all started as a college dare back in 2004, which ended up in the local newspaper and grew from there. You don't have to eat the doughnuts to participate, but then you're not in the running (so to speak) for the true challenge.

If you do eat the doughnuts you will have consumed 2,400 calories and 144 grams of fat. So this is one race where you could finish it weighing more than when you started. More coverage of Saturday morning's Krispy Kreme Challenge here.

-- Rene Lynch

Twitter / renelynch 

Photo: Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Credit: Associated Press

Celebrate National Doughnut Day with a chance to help the needy

Donuts Do you need an excuse to eat doughnuts? Me neither.

But in case you know someone who does, it's National Doughnut Day. Or, National Donut Day, depending on whose style book you are following.

Anyway, buckle up for all the hoopla you are going to hear within the next 12 hours, all in praise of taking dough, frying it and rolling it around in sugar. Never a bad thing. However, the best part of this "holiday" is the opportunity to indulge guilt-free: It's a dough-raiser for the Salvation Army. If you buy your goodies at a participating shop, a portion of the proceeds will go toward helping the needy. Here is a list of participating shops.

Now, I have to tell you that Kripsy Kreme is also giving out free doughnuts, one per customer. Here's a list of participating KKs. But I also have to tell you that the L.A.-area outlets are not participating in the Salvation Army fundraiser, although some individual outlets nationwide might choose to be involved. 

If you know of any places offering free doughnuts Friday as part of the Salvation Army fundraiser, please let us know in the comments section below. But even if you get a free one, you might want to buy another -- or, in my case, 17 -- to help the needy.

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Films, art, rum: Dinner and a movie at Drago; 'Palate' exhibit runs 'til June 12; guest bartender at Breadbar

Fellini1

Food + art: "Palate," a group exhibition of food-focused art curated by Zio Fulcher, is on display at Scion's Installation L.A. Gallery in Culver City. The show opened last weekend and runs until June 12. Works include Clare Crespo's knitted smorgasbord; James Reynolds' photographs documenting death row inmates' last meal requests; and Tamara Kostianovsky's sculptures of slabs of meat (made with clothes), among several others. Grocery bags, baked beans and chips figure in. The show includes an exhibit of retro candy wrappers courtesy of the Candy Wrapper Museum; a vintage cookbook library; and a wall of hard-to-find sodas. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and by appointment. 3521 Helms Ave. (at National), Culver City, (310) 815-8840. 

Dinner + movie: "La Dolce Vita" with your sweet corn agnolotti? Drago Centro kicks off its "Dinner and a Movie" summer series with the Fellini classic next Thursday, June 3. Chef de cuisine Ian Gresik prepares a four-course menu to go with the film: heirloom tomato salad with burrata and crostini; sweet corn agnolotti with pancetta and lemon brown butter foam; New York steak with crispy potatoes, maitake mushrooms and salsa verde; and strawberry torta with balsamic crème and mascarpone. Thursday, June 3, 7 p.m. $40 per person. Limited seating; reservations recommended. City National Bank Plaza, 525 S. Flower St., Suite 120, Los Angeles, (213) 228-8998, www.dragocentro.com

Rum + "Pizza Mixo": The next guest bartender for Breadbar's "Hatchi Mix" series is Joel Black of Caña Rum Bar, who's presenting his cocktail menu, "Rum Amok," next Thursday, June 3. Breadbar also will be serving a new “Pizza Mixo” menu featuring its crisp pizzas. A taste of the cocktail lineup: Ginger Mistress with white rum, apricot liqueur, lemon, honey, ginger and a float of Laphroag Cask Strength; Anejo Daiquiri with Zaya 12-year and lime; and Mai Tai with Nession Eleve Sous Bois, Appleton 12-year, lime, orgeat and Curacao. Cocktails, $8 each. Westfield Shopping Center, 10250 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite R-2, Los Angeles, (310) 277-3770. 

--Betty Hallock

Photo: Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in "La Dolce Vita."

Credit: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Giant doughnuts in the sky are still around

Donuts

In the coming disaster movie "2012," tragedy strikes Randy's Donuts in Inglewood when its giant rooftop doughnut becomes unhinged and is last seen bouncing down the street in the direction of star John Cusack's limo.

The incident is just digital magic, of course. In real life, Randy's -- once a member of the now-defunct Big Donut chain -- is very much intact, as 405 Freeway drivers know well.

But over the last half-century, half a dozen Big Donuts have disappeared, gobbled up by developers.

If it's any consolation to worshipers of these giant confections, however, there are three leftovers in Greater L.A. Also still standing are smaller rooftop doughnuts -- former members of the Angel Food Donuts chain -- in the Long Beach area, not to mention a distant cousin in La Puente.

Some of the survivors have seen fit to change with the times.

Photo credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Peach doughnuts at Donut Man in Glendora

Peachdonutduo

StrawberrydonutsLos Angeles doughnut aficionados know all about Donut Man strawberry doughnuts: half a basket of strawberries coated in pie glaze and heaped into a plain raised doughnut (offered from February through the fall).

But not as many people know about Jim Nakano's peach doughnuts. It's the same concept, but done with fresh peaches -- and it only lasts for a few weeks each summer as long as the fruit is ripe.

Donut Man started serving these last week, so go now. Time is running out. 

Donut Man: 915 E. Route 66, Glendora. (626) 335-9111

--Elina Shatkin

Photos: Rob Takata / For The Times

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Daily Dish is written by Times staff writers.