There are two different kinds of doughnuts, the yeast dough type and my absolute favorite, the humble fry cake type doughnut that isn't a yeast dough recipe. The cake doughnut is heavier since the leavening agent doesn't puff it up like the yeast dough variety. The fry cake comes in a wonderland of choices - glazed, chocolate frosted, plain, powdered sugar, frosted with sprinkles...mmmm. Hungry yet?
Every culture has its own take on fried dough --fritters, sonhos (Brazil), picarones (Chile), ponchiki (Russia), shuangbaotai (China)...you get the idea. Americans lay claim to the unique shape, but the Brits may have beaten us to that. One theory gives credit to a Dutch immigrant for the invention, but a British cookbook from 1803 has a recipe for doughnuts. However, in spirit of American ingenuity let's assume that the circular shape with hole in the middle is all ours. And what about that little ball of dough taken from the middle of each doughnut? Those are perennial favorites too. Dunkin' Donuts calls them "munchkins." You can eat a bunch of those without batting an eye. They're really small, right?
Americans love choices so the yeast doughnut has spectacular fillings - jam, jelly, cream, fruit, pudding, you name it, it's probably been stuffed into a doughnut. Just take a look in your grocery store's bakery. America also has entire stores dedicated to the making and selling of these delightful treats - Krispy Kreme, and Dunkin' Donuts are probably most familiar. Krispy Kremes are really good and my first taste of one hot off the conveyor belt was truly glorious. Dunkin' Donuts has become a traditional stop when we visit our grandsons in Florida. We go geocaching and then we make a donut run afterwards. One of the best experiences was when the boys talked to two policemen who happened to be stopping in at the same time we were. The boys were in hog heaven--men with guns and donuts. Does it get any better?
There is a sweet story about The Salvation Army and doughnuts. During World War I, two female Salvation Army officers got the idea of making doughnuts for our soldiers who were on the front lines in France. These women and approximately 250 other Salvation Army volunteers were there assisting these soldiers in 1917. To boost morale, the women decided that some home cooking might do the trick. After considering how they would do that with limited food supplies and equipment, doughnuts were selected. They actually fried them in helmets and thus began a daily ritual of the "Doughnut Lassies" delivering this taste of home right to the soldiers in the trenches. Now you know where the term "doughboy" comes from--it wasn't from Pillsbury. The tradition continued during World War II and The Salvation Army celebrates a National Doughnut Day in June.
Here's the original recipe, still enjoyed today.
|Stella Young - Doughnut Lassie|
So there you have it. A little doughy history for this weekend. While you're deciding what kind of doughnut you'll eat, I'll encourage you to support The Salvation Army. They've been on the front lines serving others for a lot of years. And as we get toward the holiday season, the needs are great and this Army is out there working hard to meet the needs for food, shelter, counseling, and so much more. Be generous when you see a bell ringer in the next couple of months or better yet, get serious with your checkbook and donate at their website or your local headquarters. Now that's really sweet!