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The Wonderful Doughnut World

by Karen B Stanford

Welcome to the delicious doughnut world. Do you know that the method of frying products in oil has been around since the ancient Roman civilization? “Globi/globuli” is what they called it.
They used little round balls of dough to which cheese was added before cooking it in oil or melted lard. After frying, the balls were dipped completely in honey and sprinkled with poppy seeds.
In Europe during the Middle Ages they had “Krapfens” which were somewhat similar to today’s donuts products. These were bent like the letter “S”. At the start of the 18th century they started using the same recipe and various kinds of fruit filling as used today.
Amusingly, many countries have their own version of donuts: Austrian Krapfens, French Beignet, Spanish Churros, German Berliner, Chinese Youtiao, Italian Bomboloni, Dutch Olliebollen, American Donuts and several more.
The Russians love their traditional donuts too. Only they call it “pishka”. They are fried in lots of butter, sprinkled with icing sugar and eaten hot. The “pishka” is a round ball roasted in big quantity of olive or sunflower oil. Russians can’t stay away from the ring shaped “pishka”.
Totally different is the Berliner [Pfannkuchen], a European member of the donut world. It is made from sweet yeast dough. In terms of shape they can be oblong or round. Some make it deep-fried with definite overturn. Both sides have a consistent golden color and often contain different types of fillings.
Plum jam or strawberry jam is the traditional filling in the German “Berliner”. In France and Swabia a paste of rose hips is used, while apricot jam is the norm in Austria, South Tyrol and Bavaria. Sugar syrup is put by German cooks on the top of the Berliner. Germans especially in the East love to dabble with different varieties of donuts.
Donuts have a place of pride in Polish cuisine especially around New Year time. They are known as “paczek”. The frying period is from the Christmas morning to Epiphany, known as the carnival. Jam made from cherry and rose petals is the traditional filling.
The ring shaped American donuts along with many standard and mini-donuts are fried in oil due to which they become golden brown in color.
Donuts in Canada and America are made with different fillings like protein creams, butter and fruit jams. Powdered sugar or glaze trim is liberally sprinkled on the donuts along with coconut, nonpareil or nuts. Go on, the yummy doughnut world is waiting for you!