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Hole Lotta Love
For Doughnuts

by Kathleen Purvis

Has the world gone doughnut crazy?

Doughnuts used to be such simple pleasures. There were cake doughnuts and yeast-raised doughnuts. Aside from your choice of dunking beverage, that was about all you needed to know. You could get them in bakeries, diners and doughnut shops, and your choice of a doughnut didn't say much more about you than "hungry -- wants a doughnut."

Then Winston-Salem's Krispy Kreme chain broke free of its traditional Southern base and began rolling along the sugar-glazed path to world domination of the fried-pastry market.

Suddenly, Krispy Kremes were in Manhattan. Krispy Kreme wedding cakes were the chi-chi choice in Los Angeles. Krispy Kreme bread pudding was spotted at fancy restaurants in Atlanta and Charlotte.

Doughnut debates broke out between the traditionalists and the Krispy Kremites, with some swearing the Krispy Kreme wasn't even a real doughnut.

For the record, we hold these Krispy Kreme truths to be self-evident:

1. There's a reason for the "hot now" sign. A fresh Krispy Kreme is a fine thing. A day-old Krispy Kreme is pointless.

2. The appeal of the Krispy Kreme is not a mystery: Fry food. Cover it in sugar. Is anyone surprised America has embraced the chain that perfected the sugar-glaze waterfall?

3. A Krispy Kreme plain-glazed (chocolate-glazed if you must) is a doughnut. Specifically, it falls into the category of a yeast-raised doughnut. But it's not the only doughnut.

Yes, friends, there are other doughnuts out there. Krispy Kreme shops may be spreading like kudzu, squeezing out the competition, but if you look hard, there are even other doughnuts around here.

First, pour yourself a glass of milk or a cup of coffee -- we won't limit your choice of dunking beverage -- take a deep, cleansing breath, and let's consider some things worth knowing about the other doughnuts.

Doughnuts have a long history. In America, they go back to early Dutch settlers, who made "olykoeks," which roughly translates to "oil cakes." These cakes were fried sweet doughs. They didn't have holes and their lumpy shape apparently led to their nickname, dough nuts.

The hole may stem from the difficulty in getting lumps of dough dropped in hot oil to cook all the way through without burning. Take the center out of the dough nut -- problem solved.

Doughnuts come in many shapes. Fritters, beignets and crullers are all essentially doughnutlike. Doughnuts can be made from several kinds of doughs. There are yeast-raised doughnuts; cake doughnuts made from egg-based batters; and doughnuts made from a version of the classic French pastry, pate a choux. Some are even based on brioche dough.

What all these doughnuts have in common is frying. Many cookbooks mention oven-baked doughnuts, but few cookbooks, in our experience, bother to include them. Doughnuts are, after all, descendants of those Dutch "olykoeks." Without oil, they'd be just "koeks."

Making doughnuts isn't difficult, unless you're afraid of deep-fat frying. The only equipment you really need is a deep-frying thermometer to check the oil temperature, and a way to cut the doughnuts. You can get a doughnut cutter, but we just use round biscuit cutters in 3-inch and 1-inch widths.

After that, the only tough part is deciding which style doughnut is your favorite. And you know what that means:

You've got a hole lot of eating to do.

Recipe: Little Pittsburgh Doughnuts
Recipe: Raised Doughnuts
Recipe: Cake Doughnuts
Recipe: Buttermilk Nutmeg Drop Doughnuts

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