Donuts in Los Angeles

Read More


Hello friends from the woods deep in Oregon, can you hear the echo?   Read More

Recipe for Homemade Donuts

Olsen Farms "Zee Fire" Nectarines and Lemon Basil

Olsen Farms “Zee Fire” Nectarines and Lemon Basil

My apologies for being a day tardy with the donut recipe I promised. I was busy cleaning up my mess. Yes, donuts are messy, but they are worth it because they are special, making them teaches you patience and precision, and they are delicious. In the weeks ahead I will be exploring the adaptability of this recipe using non-dairy milks; using gluten-free flours, baking instead of frying donuts, wildly decreasing the sugar in the glazes, and even making savory donuts (that means cheese, people). Stay tuned!

Nectarine Glazed Donuts with Lemon Basil

Nectarine Glazed Donuts with Lemon Basil


1 1/2 cups milk
2 1/2 ounces vegetable shortening or lard, approximately 1/3 cup
*Note: I don’t believe properly sourced natural lard is bad for you, so I’m not wincing, but if you are, read this and this).

2 packages instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/3 cup warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
2 egg yolks, broken with a fork

1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup sugar or honey
*Note: You can use down to as little as a teaspoon of sugar or honey, as I did, and still achieve excellent results, but the yeast benefits from some sugar so don’t leave it out

1 teaspoon freshly ground mace, cinnamon or nutmeg
23 ounces BREAD FLOUR (not all purpose), plus more for dusting surface
Peanut or vegetable oil, for frying (1 to 1/2 gallons, depending on fryer; I used a dutch oven with excellent results)


Place the milk in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat to 110 degrees. Place the shortening or lard in a bowl and pour warmed milk over. Set aside.

In a small bowl, sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water and let dissolve for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, add 1 cup of flour and let sit for 30 minutes in a warm spot. Pour the yeast mixture into the large bowl of a stand mixer and add the milk and shortening mixture, first making sure the milk and shortening mixture (making sure it’s lukewarm and not hot). Add the eggs, sugar, salt, nutmeg, and half of the flour. Using the paddle attachment, combine the ingredients on low speed until flour is incorporated and then turn the speed up to medium and beat until well combined. Add the remaining flour, combining on low speed at first, and then increase the speed to medium and beat well. Change to the dough hook attachment of the mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough pulls away from the bowl and becomes smooth, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.

Of course you can do the mixing by hand if you’re up for an arm workout.

Transfer to a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size. Alternatively, you can place the bowl in the refrigerator overnight, then take out to let rise for an hour in the morning. That’s what I did.

On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to roughly ½ inch thick. Cut out dough using donuts cutters, a jar lid, or anything circular that is roughly the size of the donuts you want. Set on floured baking sheet, cover lightly with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oil in a deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees F. Gently place the doughnuts into the oil, 3 to 4 at a time. Cook for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed in baking pan. Allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes prior to glazing, if desired.

Nectarine Glaze

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pureed nectarine
1 tablespoon light corn syrup or brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

Homemade Donuts Chapter 2

The verdict is in:  Milk wins.  Use bread flour.  Get a digital thermometer.  Recipe tomorrow folks!!!


Homemade Donuts, Chapter 1: “Dancing Demon” (Pluot) Donuts with Candied Basil & Mint

2014-05-22 07.40.10

If you’d asked me a year ago whether I’d be making homemade yeasted donuts, with a homemade glaze, I’d have said you were very mistaken. But life sometimes has plans that run parallel or even perpendicular to our own (conscious) plans, and one minute you could be a baker, the next a braiser.

I’ve always loved to cook, to read food magazines and cookbooks, and to play around with food, but I only really cooked for special occasions and sporadically. It’s weird to me to recognize that just two years ago my only regular cooking habits were making smoothies in the morning and toasting bread and spreading it with almond butter for dinner. Today I cook almost all of our meals and use a minimum of processed foods. How did that happen? I guess that’s another post, but I will say that inspiration and a “muse,” and blogging, totally transformed my culinary habits.

We have a tradition in our family of taking my vegan niece when she is in town to the Los Angeles (nearly historical!) landmark, Stan’s Donuts, a stone’s throw from the UCLA Campus in Westwood. We also go there on Christmas morning with my son, Mom and Dad. Stan has been making donuts since 1965 and they are fresh, scrumptious and unique. Many of the specialty donuts are named after local personalities. For example, my personal favorite, the “Huell” (named after the TV personality Huell Howser) is a buttermilk bar stuffed with a big fat meaty slab of peanut butter and coated in chocolate. Here is a fun video from Huell’s show on Stan’s.

One of my favorite food blogs is Joy the Baker, and recently I keep stopping and oogling the donut creations she’s featured over the years. They are so pretty to look at! The next thing I knew I was scribbling down donut creation ideas/flavor combinations as they came across my mind based on what I was seeing at the Farmer’s Market and in restaurants and coffee shops. I also bought a donut cookbook, kindle version, by Seattle’s famous donut guys at Top Pot. After a couple of weeks of flirting with the donut, I came up with a recipe last week that I thought would be a nice addition to the Fiesta Friday party and May’s challenge: Pluot Donuts with candied herbs and fresh fruit glaze.  We have a funny and charismatic stone fruit farmer at the Wednesday Farmer’s Market, Fitz, and he likes to make up his own vampy and flirtatious names for his fruit.

Farmer Fitz's Dancing Demon Pluots

Farmer Fitz’s Dancing Demon Pluots

I’m going to split this post into two chapters because the first time I made donuts, I lacked a couple of specified ingredients and tools, namely “bread flour” and a digital thermometer. I wing things all the time and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. Tell me if you think Chapter 1 worked . . . I used Bob’s Mill whole wheat “Bread Mix” for “Bread Machines,” and I did not have a thermometer. Interestingly, also, I noticed that 99% of the recipes I found online and in books used scalded milk for yeast raised donuts, and yet the Top Shop classic raised donut recipe did not list milk as an ingredient. Even more maddening, the Top Shop guys published a recipe for classic yeast raised donuts in Food & Wine Magazine that did use scalded milk. Bottom line: in Chapter 1, no milk.

If I had to review this donut for a restaurant review, I would say: (1) It was delicious, but the dough was dark which meant the donut, glazed, and glazed with fresh pureed pluots, was almost midnight blue (a little strange for a donut); (2) It tasted and must have been healthier due to the presence of whole grain flour, flax seeds and sunflower seeds; and, (3) The dough didn’t rise that well so the donuts were a little flatter and more dense than I would have preferred.  Stay tuned for next week when I use a thermometer, milk and actual bread flour.

2014-05-22 07.39.532014-05-22 07.40.23


1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 extra-large yolk, at room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

About 5 cups sifted bread flour, plus more sifted flour for dusting

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Pluot Glaze:  3 Pluots, 1/2 cup water, 3 cups powdered sugar

Candied Herbs:  A handful of basil and mint, 2 egg whites, and 4 Tbsp sugar


The night before you want to eat the donuts, make the candied herbs and, if you want to proof the dough overnight in the refrigerator, make the dough.

Make candied herbs by dipping herb leafs into egg white, setting on a wire rack, and sprinkling with sugar.  Allow to dry for 6 hours.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, stir the yeast into the warm water, sprinkle with a pinch of sugar and let stand until foamy, about 3 minutes. Melt shortening.  Stir the warm shortening into the yeast and mix on low for 2 minutes.  Gradually add the 1/2 cup of sugar and the sour cream, the whole eggs, egg yolk, salt and vanilla. Mix on low for another minute.  Gradually stir in 4 3/4 cups of the flour, mixing on low, until all flour is incorporated, then mix on medium speed for 3 minutes until a soft, sticky dough forms. Scrape the dough out onto a floured surface and use a pastry scraper to knead the dough until smooth, adding as much of the remaining flour as necessary. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but smooth and elastic.

Gather the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 2 hours. Punch down the dough and turn it over in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate the dough for 2 hours or overnight.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the chilled dough 1/3 inch thick. Using a 3 1/2-inch doughnut cutter dipped in flour, cut out as many doughnuts as possible and transfer them to a sheet of floured wax paper. The scraps can be rerolled once to cut out more doughnuts. Loosely cover the doughnuts with wax paper and let rise until soft and billowy, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile Make the Pluot Glaze by heating 3 chopped pluots and 1/2 cup water until boiling.  Transfer to blender and blend until smooth but with some very small pieces of fruit an peel still visible.  Transfer to stand mixer, add powdered sugar and, using whisk attachment, mix for 2 minutes on high.

In a large, heavy skillet, heat 4 inches of vegetable oil to 365°. Line a rack with several paper towels. Working in batches, fry the doughnuts until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Check the temperature of the frying oil to make sure it doesn’t get too hot or cool. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the doughnuts to the paper towel-lined rack to drain.

When donuts are cool enough to touch with hands, dip one side of each into glaze and place on a rack.  Eat immediately!




Sweet Ride: Das Beste Von Kalifornien

Behold the Cro-Dough

Behold the Cro-Dough

There is a group of bicyclists who regularly ride for sweets in Los Angeles, SweetRideUsa.  Allow me to gush because I like what they are doing a lot.  I fell in love with their catchy concept and playful nature when I was going down the blogosphere rabbit hole one day in search of fun bicycling groups, but since they are based on the east side I do not get to ride with them as often as I would like.  Actually, I’ve never ridden with them at all . . . but I plan to!

I recently read the spread in March’s Bicycling Magazine about them and their latest ride and I was so inspired by what two of the participants are doing with Bike Trains in Los Angeles!  Equipping folks who want to commute, who are curious, but who may be afraid or have reservations about what is actually possible, with not only routes but companionship and direction.

So I decided to fashion a Sweet Ride myself, this morning.  Here’s my Route which I affectionately named the Double Canyon Dip:

From home I ventured up San Vicente to Burlingame, took a left and headed slightly uphill to Sunset, then braved Sunset for about 2 seconds to Mandeville Canyon Road.  MCR is a lovely ride, almost downright pastoral for Los Angeles, especially when cruising past the sprawling Robert Taylor Ranch.

 Mandeville Cyn. Rd.

Mandeville Cyn. Rd.

July 2013 2 014

Near the Top of Mandeville Looking Down

From Sunset, it’s a little over 4 miles to the top of Mandeville.  The ride is safest when done in a group or very very early in the morning, as there are no bike lanes and it is quite narrow and curvy.  It was the site of probably the most horrible road rage bike case I’ve ever read about that resulted in the perpetrator serving 5 years’ prison time.  As truly despicable as the perpetrator was, I must mention, though, in the interest of reminding me of the potential goodness of humanity, that I used to live at the top of Mandeville and one day I got a flat on the way down and a stranger driving a vehicle offered me (and I accepted!) a ride back home or to the nearest bike shop.

Once at the top I took a few breaths and flew back down, headed left on Sunset for about 1/2 mile north, and powered up Kenter Canyon until the “Whoops Trail Head” where it goes dirt.  I headed back down to Sunset and via San Vicente again, to my first sweet spot: Rockenwagner for a Cro-dough.

“Das Beste Von Kalifornien.”  I think that means The Best in California. Well, not only is Hans Rockenwagner a successful restauranteur, fantastic (non-TV) chef and baker, he’s an experienced and tasteful craftsman woodworker/artist/designer and builds some of his spaces’ own furniture, cooking utensils and knick knacks.  Plus he likes orange.  Finally, he’s a cyclist.  ’nuff said. = hot.

The cro-dough is a hybrid croissant/donut.  It’s croissant dough, formed into donut shape, deep fried, then glazed and sometimes sugared and filled.  Tear into it and this is what it looks like:

Layers of Butter Enriched Goodness
Layers of Butter Enriched Goodness

I have never been much of a pastry person, but I have to admit, this was really good.  Almost meaty.  3 flavors:

Vanilla with Cream Filling; Chocolate with Nutella Filling; Raspberry with Raspberry Filling
Vanilla with Cream Filling; Chocolate with Nutella Filling; Raspberry with Raspberry Filling

It’s called a Cro-dough because of copyright/intellectual property/trademark issues; apparently the first hybrid iteration of this beast was named a “cronut” by a certain specific donut shop in Santa Monica and they had to patent the name because of the craze that erupted after the world caught on that these things were delicious.

I didn’t have time to linger this morning, as I slept in a bit and really had to work it to be at work on time, so no sooner were my cro-doughs packed up then I sprinted up to work, up the stairs (never elevators!), into the kitchen to warm up my coffee, over to my desk, and I swear to God this what was at my desk:  (I think my file clerk knows me well)

Am I That Obvious?

Am I That Obvious?