Doughnut daze: doughnuts three ways
October 4, 2023
By Karen Barr
Meet three thriving concepts built on three distinct styles
Ottawa, our nation’s capital city, has embraced the doughnut as comfort food. Successful shops continue to open, each putting their unique spin on the product and flavours.
Two classic types of doughnuts are the European-style yeast-raised doughnut and its American cousin, the cake doughnut. The third and most recent kind is the Cronut, a doughnut made with laminated dough like a croissant. Although there is only one true secret recipe for Cronuts, there are yum-factor variations.
Susan Hamer set out to show Ottawa that doughnuts were the next big snack and dessert trend when she opened SuzyQ Doughnuts in 2012. Homemade doughnuts had always been a delicious part of her life. Hamer was raised by Finnish parents and her mother made munkki, the popular cardamom doughnut from Finland. All were hand rolled and shaped.
Hamer’s love of doughnuts meant she would take some to work to share with colleagues. Soon, when orders poured in, she needed help unloading her car at the office. Her next stint was to sell at a local farmer’s market.
When Hamer heard a neighbourhood burger shack was leaving its low-rent location, she jumped at the chance to showcase her doughnuts. “We built a kitchen in the back of the charmingly dilapidated shack toward the butt end of one of the up-and-coming neighbourhood’s most exclusive parking lots,” Hamer remembers. The unique location drew the curious. “Soon it was a common sight to see a steady stream of fixated snack-seekers.”
Over the years she has improved her recipe. “I asked myself, ‘Could this doughnut still be good tomorrow?’ I worked on developing wheat paste, along with a poolish. We use less than 1/5 per cent yeast and age the dough overnight to increase the flavours. Adding the wheat paste really increased the moisture and extended the shelf life.”
Some SuzyQ Doughnuts are always on the menu due to popular demand. Think Raspberry Cassis, Cookies and Cream Cheese, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Maple Bacon. The D’OH!nut flavour has a vanilla bean glaze and organic sprinkles.
“We used to post monthly doughnut specials, but then customers would become upset if they didn’t have a chance to try it. Instead, we create seasonal doughnuts.”
Some examples of summer doughnuts include the Lime Margarita or the Mango Coconut. The Tangerine Dream Slice tastes like an orange creamsicle filled with vanilla pastry cream. It’s made with doughnut holes fastened together to resemble a cloud.
Vegans reach for the Dirty Chocolate or the Vanilla Dip Sourdough, the latter of which is Hamer’s favourite. What’s the secret to making a vegan doughnut? Oatmilk.
Today SuzyQ Doughnuts has three locations, with 60 employees. Hamer is most excited about the upcoming addition of a SuzyQ Doughnuts food truck for festivals and events.
Maverick’s Donut Company
In 2016, Geoff and Genevieve Vivian opened Maverick’s Donut Company with a first location in downtown Ottawa. By 2020 this had expanded to four. Then, sales flourished during the pandemic.
“Currently we have 16 locations open in two provinces – Ontario and Alberta,” says Jon Martin, managing partner of Maverick’s Donuts in Stittsville, Kanata, Carleton Place, and Barrhaven locations and vice-president of franchise development Maverick’s Franchising Inc. Martin says 41 more locations have been sold in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia. “Most are looking for locations or are already in construction.”
Explaining one of the reasons for his company’s success, Geoff says, “We provide a delicious, consistent doughnut base with fun and creative toppings.”
What does it take to make the perfect cake doughnut? “High-quality ingredients, attention to detail and a passion for making doughnuts. A good quality oil makes for a better fry. Making doughnuts fresh daily ensures a superior product,” says Abbey Storms, head baker and co-owner of the Barrhaven location of Maverick’s Donuts in Ottawa.
“For our cake doughnuts, we begin the day with our vanilla batter. Followed by blueberry, then chocolate. We also offer a vegan doughnut, as well as doughnut holes. We have three hours in the morning from when bakers arrive, to get everything fried and decorated to be out on display on the bar.”
Storms adds, “And you can’t forget our yeast doughnuts. Fritters, Boston Creams and Berliners. Our yeast line is a little more labour intensive, so after the morning fry of our cake doughnuts, we begin production on the yeast product. We felt it best for our customers to offer both kinds of doughnuts.”
The three top-selling doughnuts at Maverick’s are the Oreo Nirvana, Lemon Ricotta and Apple Fritters. The Oreo Nirvana is a chocolate cake doughnut dipped in cream cheese Oreo glaze and rolled in crushed Oreo. It’s delightfully topped with a whipped cream rosette and Oreo cookie. The citrusy Lemon Ricotta vanilla cake doughnut is dipped in lemon glaze and finished with a swirl of lemon ricotta mousse. The classic Apple Fritter is made with a soft yeast dough, filled with fragrantly spiced apples and dipped in a honey glaze.
In 2020, at the start of COVID-19, Sam and Tyler Armstrong needed to find a new source of income to support their family with four young children. That was the why factor behind Holey Confections.
Based on Tyler’s love for doughnuts the couple devised a plan. “It was the perfect model. We wanted to make just one product and we thought this could be successful,” Sam remembers.
A master doughnut dough was what was needed to set goals into action. Tyler hit the books and YouTube videos to first learn how to make a croissant dough and then how to adapt it to the Cronut-style, or pastry, doughnut. Within eight weeks he discovered how to make the perfect dough. The result is 140 layers in a doughnut made with locally sourced ingredients and homemade glazes.
“We started our business out of our home kitchen and used Instagram stories to promote it using #DIETSTARTSTOMMOROW. Tyler made all the donuts and I glazed and decorated them,” Sam says. Once the couple could afford it, they bought a sheeter and proofer. Production was moved to the basement.
“It’s a three-day process,” Tyler says. “On day one I make up the dough and let it rest overnight. The next day I laminate the dough and cut out the doughnuts. These go on to the racks and are placed in the refrigerator overnight. On the third day, they are proofed and cooked off.”
Today Holey Confections has a main location and two satellite stores. Production has increased to 1,500 doughnuts per day. Top sellers include The New Yorker, a strawberry cheesecake doughnut, and the Raspberry Lemonade, filled with citrusy lemon curd and deliciously topped with a duo of raspberry glaze and vanilla drizzle topping. Then, there is the Charlie Brown. “It’s like a Boston Cream, but better,” Sam says.
Ottawa has every type of doughnut. It’s a tough choice to decide between a classic yeast-raised, cake or pastry doughnut. Which one is your favourite?
Karen Barr writes about arts, culture and cuisine. She is a graduate of George Brown College and a Red Seal pastry chef.
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