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Dynamo Donuts Are Dyno-mite

Wednesday, 2. June 2010 5:25

A donut is a donut, right?

Not in the hands of San Francisco’s wickedly good Dynamo Donuts, a short drive from the Holiday Inn Civic Center.

You’ve seen the lines. You’ve heard the swoons.

Let me tell you, it’s all justified for these gourmet donuts that come in such unusual flavors as Chocolate Rosemary Almond, Lemon Sichuan, Banana De Leche, and the much-ballyhooed Maple Glazed Bacon Apple.

First off, these are not teeth-gratingly sweet like so many other donuts. I know that’s hard to believe, given that they all come with a hefty dose of glaze or shower of sugar on top. But the flavors are actually balanced and quite intense at times. For instance, bite into the Candied Orange Blossom, and your mouth will come alive with an explosion of citrus flavor that’s so audacious, you can’t help but let out a yelp. The orange flavor gets revved up from candied orange zest inside the donut, as well as orange blossom glaze smeared over the top.

Second of all, the texture of these donuts is remarkable. It’s not just a round of airy pastry. Rather, a Dynamo donut has height, along with an almost brioche-like quality that makes for a quite rich and tender crumb.

That these donuts are so spectacular comes as no surprise when you realize that they’re the brainchild of Sara Spearin, a pastry chef who honed her craft at Postrio, Hawthorne Lane, Stars and Foreign Cinema, all San Francisco landmarks.

There are about 16 different donuts, selling for $2 to $3.50 a piece, depending on the type. About seven are offered daily with the bacon one available every day by popular demand.

Good thing, too, or there surely would be riots over this super puffy donut that has apples  in the batter, which have been sauteed in bacon fat, as well as a maple glaze that’s studded with crisp bacon bits. It’s salty and sweet. And if you try one, you’ll want another one immediately.

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Category:Bakeries, Chocolate, Donuts, General, Great Finds | Comments (37) | Author:

Baker & Banker Team Up to Create A Warm Neighborhood Joint in San Francisco

Wednesday, 17. February 2010 5:24

Baker & Banker? That would be Pastry Chef Lori Baker and her husband, Chef Jeff Banker, who have taken over the beloved Octavia Street spot that was once home to Quince and the Meetinghouse.

Their two-month-old, namesake restaurant, Baker & Banker, not far from the Hotel Kabuki, serves New American dishes  that are both familiar yet freshened with real flair. Think creamy cauliflower soup ($9) — only made anew with trendy Vadouvan curry. Or grilled top sirloin ($26) — with a short rib-stuffed twice-baked potato for a meat lover’s fantasy. The restaurant also bakes its own breads and churns its own ice creams.

The bistro, with its blackboard walls adorned with the names of the day’s cheese offerings and specialty beers, was bustling on the weeknight that I was invited in as a guest for dinner.

The meal started with a bang, with probably my favorite dish of the night — silky house-smoked trout atop a crispy celery root latke ($12). A tangle of shaved fennel was strewn over the top. Pickled beets added a zippy and colorful note. Horseradish cream gave it all a bright bite. But what really made the dish was the drizzle of fuschia-colored beet syrup. Thick like a molten candied apple, it was sticky, fruity and sweet. The dish was  so many things — smoky, sweet, tangy, crunchy, soft, cooked and raw — that all came together for a lively, exciting taste sensation that changed with every bite.

Jones Farm country rabbit and French prune pâté ($11) was served in an adorable little glass canning jar. Its surprising loose and fluffy texture made for a lighter-tasting pâté.  The pink peppercorns, which added a spicy floral quality, was a nice touch, as were the cornichons, which were actually shaved thinly over a handful of peppery greens.

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Category:Chefs, Donuts, General, Restaurants | Comments (11) | Author:

It’s a Pancake; It’s a Donut; It’s an Ebelskiver

Wednesday, 21. January 2009 5:54

Wake up to these warm, filled, Danish pancake-donuts.

Santa brought me a new toy.

OK, really it was my cousin and her husband who did. But you get my drift.

I fairly squealed when I opened the big box to see my very own ebelskiver maker. Uh, what’s that you ask? It’s like a specialty frying pan with seven big dimples in it. You pour batter into each crater to create spherical, filled Danish pancakes known as ebelskivers.

For years, I’d seen the pans featured in the Williams-Sonoma catalogue. I wondered if they were easy to use. And I was curious whether the round donut-hole-shaped pancakes really tasted all that much better than your standard flat ones.

Once you get the hang of making them, they are pretty quick to make. It helps to have your batter, and your fillings at the ready near the stove, because you need to work fast.

And yes, since you need to beat the egg whites separately, and then fold them into the batter, be prepared to dirty more than one bowl.

Adding cherry jam.

Heat the pan over medium heat, with 1/4 teaspoon butter in each well of the pan. Pour in a tablespoon of batter, add a small amount of your favorite filling, then top with a little more batter to seal the filling in. After the bottoms brown (about 3 minutes), use two wooden skewers to flip over each pancake ball to cook the other side.

Serve with maple syrup, a sprinkle of powdered sugar. or a little whipped cream. Eat with a fork, or use your fingers. Enjoy as breakfast, brunch, or dessert.

Unlike flat pancakes, the ebelskivers get a crisper exterior that gives way to a soft interior that holds a surprise inside.

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Category:Donuts, General, Great Finds, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (26) | Author:

Bouchon Bakery Donuts — For Early-Risers Only

Wednesday, 12. November 2008 5:35

I’d known about these elusive donuts for awhile. I just never managed to get to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville early enough to snag any.

Until last Sunday.

You see, in addition to the usual variety of baguettes, nutter butter cookie sandwiches, and flaky-beyond-belief croissants, the bakery makes a limited quantity of donuts only on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It amounts to a mere couple dozen of each type of donut offered each day.

They are made in the fryer at next-door Bouchon Bistro before it opens for lunch. Once the doors to the bistro open, the fryer is tied up with orders of irresistible frites instead.

When I arrived at the bakery about 9:40 a.m. last Sunday, there were already about half a dozen people in line, and another half dozen sitting at outside tables, sipping coffee and noshing on brioche and macaroons.

As I inched my way through the doorway, I spotted them — three different types of donuts on the wooden back shelf where all the bread was. There were only about nine donuts left. My heart sank, thinking the people in front of me might buy them all.

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Category:Bakeries, Chocolate, Donuts, General, Great Finds, Thomas Keller/French Laundry/Et Al | Comments (17) | Author:

A Muffin That’s Like A Donut

Thursday, 4. September 2008 5:23

Cinnamon-buttermilk muffins

When I worked on the San Jose Mercury News Food & Wine section, you always knew it was going to be a good day if any Beth Hensberger baked goods were being photographed in the studio for an upcoming story.

That’s because once the photos were done, we’d all dive in, eagerly tearing off hunks of pie, cobbler, cookies or breads to nibble. They never ceased to make us smile and swoon. That’s because Beth’s baked goods are always filled with abundant love and expertise.

A former Bay Area caterer and a veteran cookbook author, Hensperger is a baking authority and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. We still keep in touch by email. And whenever I make one of her recipes, I always think of my dear friend whose sweet tooth is matched only by my own.

Her cinnamon-buttermilk muffins are as comforting as you can get. They are dipped in melted butter, then in cinnamon-sugar. I used organic cane sugar, giving the topping an even darker contrast to the golden muffins. But regular granulated sugar also works fine.

The batter, Hensperger says, is similar to ones for donuts, giving these muffins a cake-like texture. Muffins that are like donuts, but without the frying? Does it get any better than that?

Cinnamon-buttermilk muffins

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Category:Donuts, General, Recipes (Sweet) | Comments (7) | Author: