…or a Paula’s Donut if you’re in Buffalo, New York. I suppose it’s necessary to pay homage to both seeing as I’ve eaten and enjoyed many different donuts from each place. I just have a special place in my heart for the Golden Donut in Orcutt, California.
The Golden Donut is in your typical suburban strip mall plaza, sandwiched between a CVS and a vacuum sale, service, and repair shop. (The CVS is garbage, by the way; before it was CVS, it was a Long’s Drugs, which was nicer, cleaner, and more organized. And it didn’t have that weird CVS smell. You know what I’m talking about.) It’s a small shop, with a few tables here and there. They have a pricing board behind the counter but I’m not sure they have updated prices or not. All your donuts will be under a buck. You get 18 doughnut holes for a dollar. 18. Are you kidding me? And they are magical. What could be more magical? The coffee. It’s not like super high grade anything but as someone who grew up liking a lot of “crap” in their coffee, this place was heaven. Seven to eight different types of flavored creamer, flavor shots, milk of all fat percentages, non-dairy creamer for the weirdos. You name it and it was there for you to put into your coffee. And…and extra large was a dollar. A dollar. My mom and I would get coffees, doughnut holes, and browse the seasonal section at Long’s. A perfect mother-daughter date!
A Cambodian family owns the Golden Donut. The only person I know out of the bunch is Who, the matriarch. Legit, her name is Who. She runs the show in that shop. My grandmother starting taking me to the Golden Donut when I was very little. I had incredibly blonde hair when I was very little. And I went into the Golden Donut so often that I acquired my very own nickname: Blondie. Every time I would walk into the shop, I would hear “Hey, Blondie!” From elementary school to high school to college, she always said “Hey, Blondie.” It didn’t matter how many people were in there or how busy they were, Who always acknowledged me and…brought the milk out from the fridge for my coffee so I wouldn’t have to walk back and get it. My day always became a bit better when I visited the Golden Donut. I remember on one of my visits back home I walked in there but I was no longer a blonde…I had dyed my hair a deep brown. Who looks at me, laughs, and says “You’re still Blondie to me, girl.”
Love that place.
It’s the nostalgia but also, the doughnuts. They are pillowy and soft and luscious. The cake doughnuts are just cakey enough and the buttermilk bars are so moist it’s not even funny. But those doughnut holes…those were my absolutely favorite. So I wanted to try my hand at making these things Who and her husband so easily churned out. I chose a basic vanilla cake doughnut as my first attempt.
Making doughnuts is not an easy task. It’s not laborious or difficult, per se, but…it is time consuming! 3 1/2 hours! Geez. I ending up using this recipe from Food and Wine magazine. I didn’t have mace but nutmeg worked nicely. I also didn’t have a candy thermometer to measure how hot the milk mixture was or a “what temperature is my oil” thermometer. For my milk mixture, I just put my finger in it and if it felt like a hot shower, I said it was close enough to 105. For the oil, I used the popcorn kernel technique. What’s that, you ask? It’s real fancy. To the cold oil, put in three popcorn kernels and turn the heat on medium-high. Once they pop, it’s about 350.
I think they turned out delicious. I am nowhere near ready to open my own doughnut shop now but, with enough practice, Blondie can do anything. Maybe you’ll see Blondie Doughnuts in your future. Or Golden Blondie Donuts. I’ll let you know.