Multiculti fried dough rolls into Central Florida
by Marta Madigan • photos by Visual Cuisines
Sesame seeds and sugar dust—sweet and savory and why not? The smell, the taste, the hole inside. The jelly-filled calorie blast. Donuts and coffee, churros con chocolate, beignets et café au lait. They come in many compositions and forms: crunchy sticks, spicy circles or cakey balls. Universal pleasure from the Old and New Worlds. Discover the world of Orlandonuts.
In Poland, lard-fried delights of fruit-filled dough are round and wear sugar icing dotted by candied orange peel. Traditional pączki have rose-petal jam inside and taste sinfully good. They mark the end of carnival for Poles around the globe. For all in need of increasing their ritualistic calorie intake before Lent, Polonia Restaurant piles up boxes of plum-, raspberry- and blueberry-filled pączki. Every Fat Tuesday, chef Marek Andruniow dusts off his family’s recipe. His secret ingredient—a splash of Polish vodka added to the dough, so it doesn’t soak up as much grease.
It looks like a familiar donut ring minus glaze, yet the moment you bite into it, the spicy flavors of South India burst in your mouth. Medu vadas are crispy on the outside and soft inside. They cook to their balanced perfection thanks to the hole in the middle. Composed of urad dal, or split black lentil, green chiles, ginger, coconut and curry leaves, the illusory fritters from Bombay Café appear on the table golden-brown and hot. Tease your taste buds by dunking your vada in mild coconut chutney and spicy sambar. Who said a donut must be sweet?
This coil-shaped energy booster helps partygoers in Spain and Latin America face the morning. Eaten with thick-as-tar hot chocolate, churros will always give you a new lease on life. Made with cream puff pastry that has been squeezed through a tube with a star tip, these groovy sticks get a crunch by taking a bath in hot oil. Next, they are rolled in cinnamon and sugar at Churromania. The Argentinian version served at Choo-Choo Churros comes with dulce de leche, or milk caramel filling and possibly addictive consequences.
At Cafe De Colombia Bakery (2512 S Semoran Blvd.), the line moves quickly. You will certainly not be the only one ordering buñuelos. A popular breakfast among the bakery’s regulars, these perfectly round, oversized donut holes go nicely with milky café con leche. Unlike their cousins from other Spanish-speaking countries, Columbian buñuelos contain cheese. Queso costeño, a soft and salty white cheese, gives them a cake-like texture. If you are watching your waistline, go for the baked cheesy buns instead. Pandabono and pan de queso are equally delicious.
The official state donut of Louisiana, beignets immigrated to New Orleans together with the French settlers in the 18th century. Ever since, square pieces of yeasty dough keep puffing up all over the place. Their irresistible aroma will lead you to the Dixieland Diner Food Truck, where Steven Smith and Tim Cannon roll out their most popular menu item. A portion consists of three to four fried doughy pillows, generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. “They get a little misshaped sometimes, just like Grandma made them,” says Smith.
Zhimaqiu/Bánh cam/Bánh tiêu
Sesame balls have ruled on the streets of Asia for more than a thousand years. In China they embody sticky food traditionally eaten for the Chinese New Year. Made of sesame seeds, glutinous yet gluten-free rice flour and red bean paste, zhimaqiu offers a crispy, roasted, chewy and faintly sweet taste in one bite at Qi Dragon Bakery. In Vietnam and at the Tien Hung grocery store (1112 E Colonial Dr.) look for bánh cam filled with a bit drier mung bean paste. Its bigger and hollow, yeasty relative is called bánh tiêu, and it looks like sesame-sprinkled mini pita bread but is actually the Vietnamese version of a donut.
“A balanced diet is a donut in each hand.” Hard to argue with the motto of Donuts To Go, especially when visiting their Sanford location (1414 W 1st St.). There, the iconic American sweet tempts with freshness and variety. Donuts To Go has more than 40 different mouthwatering items in its repertoire. What to choose? Considering that you have only two hands, grab an Old Fashioned made of cake dough. Then go for a yeast-raised donut-burger. Prefer the classics? Try the signature Square Glazed. It might be the best donut you’ve ever had.
HERE COMES THE CRONUT
Attention local foodies! The cronut has landed in Winter Park. At Cask & Larder, the Sunday brunch includes this half-donut, half-croissant delicacy. Debuting at the Dominique Ansel Bakery in Manhattan only a few months ago, the new kid on the block immediately captured the imagination of Kristy Farnham Carlucci, the pastry chef at Cask & Larder. “It is a handmade croissant dough that’s been deep-fried,” explains Carlucci. Served as two puffed cubes with a fruity jam injection and a delicate glaze, donut-croissants from Cask & Larder have a crunchy and flaky texture. Carlucci plans to feature various fillings and coatings to reflect the seasons. So far, bourbon-peach jam with almond glaze as well as cherry jam with vanilla glaze have taken their turns on the summer menu. “In coming months, I’m looking toward fall flavors, including apple, pumpkin and spices,” she adds.