Category Archives: Donuts

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

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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Bouchon Bakery Donuts — For Early-Risers Only

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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A Muffin That’s Like A Donut

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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Fried To A Crisp Until I Can’t Resist

The best donut -- period.

For a long time, I tried my hardest to avoid fried foods. It’s not that I don’t like fried foods. It’s just that fried foods have a way of sticking around.

On the hips. On the waist. On every inch of my body.

But then, I married Meat Boy. Yes, with a nickname like that, he made me realize just how many big hunks of meat are naturally accompanied by something crisp, golden, and irresistibly fried. And well, faced with that onslaught, you succumb. You can’t help it.

So I do indulge now and then. But I make sure it’s worth it. In no particular order, here’s my personal list of Top 10 fried foods worth every dang calorie. If there are any other fried temptresses out there that can’t be denied, do let me know.

1. Glazed donut at Stan’s Donut Shop in Santa Clara. The puffiest, yeastiest, most pillowy donuts ever. Even people who have sworn off donuts make an exception for a glazed one here. Because the shop sells so many of them that the supply constantly needs to be replenished, the donuts almost always can be snagged warm, just out of the fryer. These donuts have been an institution since the shop opened in 1959. Seventy cents will buy you one donut and a whole lotta happiness.

2. Calamari with romesco sauce ($11) at Bocadillos in San Francisco. There is fried calamari. And then there is fried calamari. It’s the latter you’ll find at this lively, small-plates, Basque restaurant by renowned Chef Gerald Hirigoyen. With the lightest, crispest coating imaginable, the bite-size tentacles and ring pieces arrive at the table at once tender, crunchy, and ethereal. It will spoil you for any other fried calamari ever again.

3. Sweet potato fries at Taylor’s Automatic Refresher in St. Helena, Napa, and San Francisco ($3.99). Thin and crispy, it’s everything you want in a fry, and then some. The dusting of chili powder adds a nice contrast to the subtle sweetness of the fries. I order these every time I go to Taylor’s. You can’t eat just one. And you simply can’t not order them.

Korean fried chicken

4. Regular or “spicy sauce” fried chicken at 99 Chicken in Santa Clara. This is fried chicken, Korean-style, served in a barest of bare-bones establishments in a strip mall off bustling El Camino Real. It’s fried to order, and arrives almost too hot to handle, in a gossamer breading. Purists will go for the traditional, unadorned chicken. Those who like heat can opt for the spicy sauce version _ the same fried chicken, but coated with a neon-red spicy-sweet, sticky sauce that is unabashedly finger-licking-good. Waitresses provide you with pop-up sponges to clean your hands afterwards. Help yourself to all the pickled daikon, and iceberg-lettuce salad fixings you want. Five pieces of chicken are $6.99 for the regular; $7.99 for the spicy.

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