View From Lodi, CA: Krispy Kreme Kraters (Plus: Amazing Joe Doughnut Recipe)
June 04, 2004, 05:00 AM
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Last month, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc  announced that fiscal 2005 profit would be 10% lower than previously stated because of "recent category dynamics."  

In other words, Krispy Kreme anticipates that the doughnut market will be weaker because Americans are caught up in the low-carbohydrate diet fad

I have bad news for Krispy Kreme. The company's problem is not that Americans are dieting. Believe me, the market for doughnuts remains exceptionally strong. If you think doughnuts have been forsaken, just look at the out of shape Americans.

To revitalize sales, Krispy Kreme needs to focus on the ghastly quality of its product. Take it from someone who for more than half a century has never said no to a doughnut, Krispy Kreme should go back to the drawing board.

In her March 17 2004 San Francisco Chronicle article entitled "The Hole Truth" reporter Kim Severson interviewed doughnut fanatics about Krispy Kreme.

Their comments: "almost too perfect," "tastes of nothing but sugar," "vaguely rancid," and "mushy and overly glazed."

Had I been part of the survey, I would have added this observation—Krispy Kreme is not really a doughnut but is instead a kind of confection similar to cotton candy. 

Krispy Kreme is a snack one might try while waiting to have a true doughnut—one with substance and staying power.

For the inquisitive, the Internet website "How Stuff Works" will take you behind the scenes at Krispy Kreme for an tour of how it makes the famous glazed doughtnut.

Suffice it to say that the main ingredient is a secret "doughnut mix." Translation: lots of chemicals.

Back in 1937, Krispy Kreme was on the right track. Founder Vernon Rudolph originally set up a doughnut distribution factory without a retail storefront. But when customers kept dropping by asking for hot doughnuts, he built a window into the factory wall to started selling his gems straight from the oven.

The key word is "hot." A Krispy Kreme just off the assembly line might pass.

But a stone cold Krispy Kreme is vile.

Why settle for someone else's pale version of a good doughnut when you can fry your own? While it is true that you will have to endure the nuisance and mess of frying, the final product more than compensates for the work. 

At the end of this column, I have written my recipe for the single best doughnut in the world—the maple buttermilk bar.

This is a real doughnut—loaded with calories. The thick maple glaze—a frosting really—will give you the perfect sugar buzz.

No normal person can eat more than two maple buttermilk bars. With Krispy Kremes, only good manners keep people from eating a dozen without pausing.

Frying your own doughnuts will make you immensely popular. Call your friends mid-week to tell them that on Sunday you'll be dropping off a bag of doughnuts right out of the fryer and watch anticipation grow as the big day draws closer.

Before getting to my recipe, let me share random doughnut knowledge amassed over five decades

  • Read the brief history of the doughnut by David A. Taylor in the March 1998 issue of Smithsonian Magazine titled "Ring King".

  • When you are prowling for doughnuts, stick to places that specialize in doughnuts. Do not—under any circumstances—buy doughnuts at establishments that sell them between 5:00 AM and 10:30 AM and then transform themselves into Chinese buffets.

  • If you are in Los Angeles, spare no effort to go to Stan's Donuts in Westwood Village. Forbes Magazine rated Stan's #1 in 2001. I don't know what expertise Forbes claims regarding doughnuts but I confirm the ranking.

  • When making recipe below, use solid fat. Liquid fat, for unknown reasons, makes a greasier doughnut. The best fat to use is the much-maligned lard, but Crisco is acceptable.

MAPLE BUTTERMILK BAR

Combine 2 cups buttermilk, 2 eggs, and one of cup sugar. Set aside. Mix together 5 cups sifted flour, 2 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking power, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp nutmeg. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir. Stir in ½ cup melted butter and knead until a soft dough forms. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to approximately 1/4-inch thickness (roll thin for best results). Shape into bar form. In a deep-fat fryer or electric skillet, heat Crisco to 375 degrees F. Fry the doughnuts on each side for approximately 1 min. or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

MAPLE GLAZE

In top of double boiler, over simmering water with hand held mixer at high speed, beat 2 large egg whites, 1½ cups of maple syrup and a pinch of salt and beat for 7 to 10 minutes, until soft peaks form. Remove and add 1 tsp vanilla and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until thickened and easily spread.

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.