A Night in the Fryer
I’ll preface this story by saying that my good friend Paul flips records all over the Bay Area. He can be found in local flea markets and pop-ups in form-fitting jeans and Birkenstocks. A naturally friendly guy, he makes for the best salesman. “What? There's no such thing!” But because he is genuine lover of music, he loves nothing more than to introduce a fellow vinyl affectionado to a new band.
So. When Paul mentioned that he was partaking in a pop-up at Mars Records in Oakland, I was mildly interested. But when he went on to share his terrible pun idea for a sales pitch (Paul Duncan became Duncan’s Donuts), I immediately volunteered to do the baking. After all, I reckoned, I’ve made donuts three times in my life, why shouldn’t I support a friend and get some free publicity all at the same time?
So I told Paul I would be making British-style finger donuts and left it at that. The realization that the only available kitchen was my father’s and it contained little more than an unpredictable electric stove and truly excellent cookware didn't even cross my mind.
After a long day of apartment hunting and getting my lion’s mane tamed, I was drained. And yet I had committed to providing the bakes for this blasted event. If only Paul was a shittier friend, I mused. But he wasn’t, he is fact an excellent friend and terrific person. Keeping that in mind, I jumped on a quick call with my partner from local non-profit From Seed 2 Feed and started to throw together my dough. But something was wrong with the dough, I felt it from the second I started to work it. Still, exhaustion got the better of me and I said screw it, the yeast will work its magic.
But an hour passed, then two. The dough stayed resolutely flat in the plastic mixing bowl and I started to panic. It was 9 PM by this time, an hour to bedtime. I called for reinforcements and was given a link to a non-yeasted donut recipe. Perfect! But no-this recipe called for apple juice concentrate, something I literally never use. A quick google search brought me a passable recipe and I went to down making quite rustic donut holes. Good enough.
Just as I rolled the last donut hole in cinnamon sugar, a miracle happened. Bubbles were appearing in the dough! This could not be. But then another bubble, then another. Thirty minutes later the dough was proved and I was able to shape it into something actually decent.
Yet another crisis came to be-I was nearly out of cooking oil and by the time I got to frying the stores were long closed. Again, I could do nothing about it so screw it-run with it. So I fried and fried and my father's kitchen stared to be covered in baked goods. The stove became greasy to the point of no return, even after half a roll of paper towels, and let's not talk about the air that become so full of oil that I could feel my pores howling in protest.
But the bakes were done! I packaged them up and went to bed, then spent the morning frantically dipping the donuts in chocolate and coconut. Paul called me with an emergency and I Ubered to his house, only slightly irked to be torn from the chill morning planned. We took his records to the pop-up and set up my donuts with the one lonely business card in my wallet. Success!