Instead honor of National Donut Day, here is a story from 2011. And the stories about cops and donuts are true.
The standard place in Seattle for doughnuts is Top Pot. I understand that both spellings of doughnut and donut are correct. But before the taste test, a little history might be appropriate.
A doughnut (or donut, my preferred spelling) is a fried food dough, popular in many countries, including ours, often sweet, deep-fried from a flour dough, shaped in rings or flattened spheres that may contain fillings. The two most common donuts are the toroidal ring donut and the filled donut. The filled donut is a flattened sphere injected with jam, jelly, cream, custard, or other sweet fillings. A small spherical piece of dough may be cooked and prepared as a donut hole. Donuts may also be baked rather than fried, though not as much fun.
So, where did the donut come from? Many people believe that donuts were brought to America by the Dutch. The Dutch settlers were responsible for bringing us other dessert delights, like the cookie, apple pie, cream pie, and cobbler. They were referred to as olykoek, a Dutch word meaning “oil cake” , a sweetened cake fried in fat.
Leave it to an American by the name of Hansen Gregory in 1847 to claim he invented the ring-shaped donut aboard a ship when he was sixteen. He was unhappy with the greasy donuts that were twisted into various shapes with a raw center. He claims to have punched a hole in the center of the dough with the ship’s tin pepper box.
Another version mentions a cookbook in an 1803 English volume which included donuts in the appendix of American recipes. By the mid 19th century, the donut looked and tasted like today’s donut. And it is certainly viewed as a truly American food. Of course, now almost every country has their version of fried dough.
A popular version in Hawaii is called the malasada, which were brought to the islands by the Portuguese settlers. The best place in Honolulu is Leonard’s on Kapahulu Avenue, just south of Waki-waki. But malasadas can be found all over the Hawaiian islands, some filled with jelly or custard.
In most Asian and South American countries, the dough is too heavy, and the result is a very greasy donut. In Europe, the focus seems to be more of bread, rolls, and other types of baked goods. Of course, Canada and France have their croissants, usually baked, and the Aussies have their hot jam donuts.
Top Pot in Seattle has been featured on several television shows, as well as the crime blotter. It is located on 5th Avenue, about a block and a half from our hotel, and easy walking distance from Nordstrom and the downtown shopping area. They call their donuts, hand-forged. The founders found and purchased a sign above a boarded up Chinese restaurant called “Topspot”. It went into storage for a few years before they sent it off to be refurbished, when the “s” fell off.
The secret donut recipe comes from the 1920s. They chose a comfortable vintage environment rather than a fluorescent-lit fast food feeling. They pay attention to coffee as well, with five regular blends as well as the usual barista offerings. They roast their own coffee! The currently have six cafes in the greater Puget Sound area. From their website:
Q: What’s the difference between an old fashioned and a regular cake doughnut? A cruller and a cake doughnut? A raised and a cake doughnut? A: An old fashioned doughnut uses different ingredients like sour cream to create its unique texture. It’s also fried at a lower temperature, which allows it to open like a flower. Cake doughnuts are spiced and fried at higher temperatures to maintain their shape. Our crullers use more liquid in the batter than cake doughnuts do and their shape is different. The raised doughnuts use a different mix and we add yeast as a leavening agent to create an airier texture.
I do not eat donuts here at home, and rarely on the road. Krispy-Kreme was quite a fad when they came to the Bay Area. But my local, all time favorite is Chick’s Donuts over in Park N Shop in Concord. I knew the original owners, and have not been to the place since an Asian family took over. I would assume they sold the recipes with the business.
Well, dollars to donuts, I will make at least one trek to Top Pot, if nothing else, to take a few over to some friends nearby. You would think in a city with so much high-tech, donuts would be decidedly low tech!
BTW, all of Top Pot donuts are $2 each. Personally, I like the little square Greek donuts at Lola, served with mascarpone cheese and fresh fruit preserves.