A few weeks ago I got it in my head that I needed to learn to make sour cream cake donuts. What followed was a flurry of research, mixing, and frying. I still haven’t gotten the recipe exactly right, but I’m getting closer.
Smack in the middle of my cake donut craze, my husband and I received an invitation to take over the donut making production for the Virginia Mennonite Relief Sale. The couple currently in charge has been filling the position for the past 17 years. We said we may—may—be interested, so one evening not too long ago, they sat down with us to explain just what, exactly, the job entailed. This is the summary:
1. Make 14,000 donuts in 12 hours.
2. Oversee 120 volunteers.
3. Pull one all-nighter.
We thought about it for several days and then said yes.
And then I embarked on a quest to tweak my yeast donut recipe. (Actually, I started making donuts before we even said yes. I was fired up.)
The relief sale’s donut-making system is a tight, streamlined affair. The couple who has been running the show are absolute geniuses in efficiency. This—their delightful practicality—was part of the reason we were so drawn to the job. The other reason was that we will get to work with a broad range of volunteers, from conservative Mennonites grandmas to tatted teens and everything between. It’s bound to be a fascinating experience. Delicious, too.
We want our recipe to be similar in taste and texture to the ones we normally make (and not wildly different from the ones that relief sale goers are accustomed to). Also, the recipe needs to smoothly convert to ginormous batches and make use of the available equipment. In other words, we don’t want to complicate things, but we want the recipe to be ours.
So now I have a folder for my donut-making experiments and notes. I have dramatically reduced our standard recipe (which is only one-fourth of a single recipe of the relief sale donuts, yikes!) to facilitate experimentation. I’ve been researching the science of donut making and refreshing my understanding of the purpose for different ingredients. I’m not taking anything for granted, and, as a result, we’ve been eating a lot of donuts.