Friday, 24 July 2020

Margaret Simon is hosting Poetry Friday on the Louisiana Bayou today. Visit Reflections on the Teche for all of this week’s Poetry Friday links.

I missed National Doughnut Day this year. It’s celebrated on the first Friday in June.

Doughnuts are not my favorite sweet (that honor goes to the lowly cookie), but they play a significant role in two of my middle grade books.

In TAKEDOWN, Mickey’s family tradition is to go out for donuts when she or her brothers does well at a wrestling tournament.

In my new book, A PLACE AT THE TABLE, my character Elizabeth invites her new friend Sara (written by my co-author Saadia Faruqi) over to make Hanukkah donuts. It’s one of the many ways that our two first generation American characters — Elizabeth’s mother immigrated from England and Sara’s parents are from Pakistan — share their cultures with each other.

Like most Americans, I always associates latkes — delicious potato pancakes served with sour cream or apple sauce (or both) — with Hanukkah.

But Hanukkah foods are really about the oil. The great miracle we celebrate on this holiday involved oil for a menorah. And guess what? Doughnuts are fried in oil! That’s why doughnuts are a favorite Hanukkah treat.

Pre-order from IndieBound. A PLACE AT THE TABLE publishes on 8-11-20.

Part of my research for A PLACE AT THE TABLE was making all of the recipes in the book. Not only did I learn to make Tahari Rice and samosas from scratch, I had to find the perfect jelly doughnut recipe. After much trial and error, I landed on a recipe with *the* trick for well-shaped jelly doughnuts that you don’t have to fill after they’re cooked. Trust me, filling hot doughnuts with a turkey baster full of strawberry jam is more awkward than fun.

What’s the trick? Roll out two thin circles of dough for each doughnut. Put a little jelly on one circle and top it with the other. Crimp the edges, and you’re ready to fry. A bonus of this method: the jelly gives the doughnuts a little more balance in the oil, so they don’t puff on one side and tip, making them uneven.

Would I leave you without a recipe? No way! But first, let’s sample a tasty doughnut poem from Greg Pincus.


Doughnuts! Oh, Doughnuts!
by Greg Pincus

Doughnuts! Oh, doughnuts! Fried circles of yum.
You food that I simply adore.
You’re sure not nutritious, but you’re so delicious
I’m always left wishing for more.

I love you with frosting or covered in sprinkles.
I swoon for you, sweet, sugar raised!
When you’re filled with jelly, you warm up my belly…
While still leaving room for a glazed.

I’ll dip you in coffee or dunk you in milk.
I’ll eat you for breakfast or brunch.
I get so impassioned for simple old-fashioned
That sometimes I make them my lunch.

Doughnuts! Oh, doughnuts! Definers of yum.
You perfect fried circles of dough.
Although you’re caloric, you leave me euphoric…
So give me a dozen to go!

Shared with the author’s permission. First posted at GottaBook, June 2009.

Hanukkah doughnuts, also known as sufganiyot.

Ready for the recipe? If you are working with a kid who is Elizabeth and Sara’s age (11) or younger, be sure that an adult is in charge of the frying. The oil is extremely hot.

You’ll find more bonus recipes from A PLACE AT THE TABLE here.

Click to enlarge this printable recipe card.

16 responses to “Poetry Friday: Doughnuts”

  1. Tabatha says:

    Yay for jelly donuts that are prefilled!
    Making samosas from scratch — wow! Sounds like a yummy challenge.
    I love Greg’s rhymes (“Although you’re caloric, you leave me euphoric”). 🙂

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Hi, Tabatha! It makes such a big difference (and is much less messy). The samosas were delicious. I event sent Saadia a photograph, I was so proud of them. Yes, big thanks to Greg for giving me permission to share this yummy poem.

  2. Mary Lee says:

    We missed donut day, but you can be SURE we remembered ice cream on ice cream day! Your donuts sound like Mennonite fry pies (or hand pies) from rural Ohio!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Ooh, I’ll have to look up ice cream day. Ice cream is one of the dishes I made for the book — it’s the only recipe that they included in the finished novel.

  3. I just watched donut making on the British Baking Show. They were messy to fill. Your idea of filling them before frying would be interesting to try. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. You are my idol from working in your garden (today’s FB post) to sour dough starter (still sitting in my pantry) to frying doughnuts! I can remember my mother trying to make beignets once from scratch. It didn’t happen again, so I’m sure it wasn’t as easy as taking a trip to New Orleans to Cafe du Monde, one of my favorite places on earth. And one more connection, a local bakery makes king cakes out of doughnut dough. They’re the best!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      So many interests. That may be why I’ve been so slow getting started on my next book. I’ve never had a beignet — someday! (And that king cake from donut dough sounds divine.)

  5. Just saw an ad for your new book in PW Children’s Bookshelf. So happy for all the exposure this is getting–both from your publisher’s support and from journals, etc. Donuts are my current favorite. I place an order each week to pick up at our local specialty donut shop on Saturday morning. This week, I’ll be getting Key Lime, Twinkie, and Funfetti donuts. Yum!

    • Laura Shovan says:

      Thank you, Laura. What a kind note! We are getting wonderful support from our publisher and I’m grateful for that.
      My mouth is watering over Key Lime donuts. WOW.


    I’m so looking forward to this book! The research sounds super fun. Thanks for the recipe. I’ve simply got to find a way to keep this extra layer of me from getting any bigger! My teens have been baking up a storm. But, reading doesn’t put on weight, right?

  7. Laura, what a delightful post, especially since you focused on two of my favorite things to do: bake and read. Last night, I baked a requested recipe for a social distancing barbecue birthday party: coconut cookies dipped in chocolate=another “Although you’re caloric, you leave me euphoric” treat. I have your “Place at the Table” book waiting for me to read but having a new home built in VA has been taking up most of my time.

  8. Fran Haley says:

    Laura – everything here is “a circle of yum”! The linking of doughnuts (a favorite of my family) to cultures, a holiday, friends, and your book – I must share your recipes with my fledgling-baker granddaughter. One thing I appreciate on a deep level here is your trial-and-error with the jelly doughnuts – makes me think of the messy writing process, always perfecting, striving toward better. Like life. Thank you for making this special “place at the table” for us. 🙂


    • Laura Shovan says:

      That’s so true, Fran! Finding a perfect recipe is a lot like writing — we start with a base recipe and tweak and hone it, tasting to make sure it’s going to appeal to other people.

  9. Molly Hogan says:

    I’m so excited about your new book, Laura, and love hearing about the process–especially the baking. I was a quasi pastry chef in a past professional life :), but I’ve never made donuts. The hack sounds ingenious. and homemade samosa sound amazing as well! So many delicious things to try–both literary and culinary!

  10. Double yum, you already wet my appetite even before the pic of the donuts, but with that they look scrumptious! So looking forward to your book Laura, congrats to you both, and we all love Indian food too! My daughter has been the queen baker this summer, and has mastered bread making, I think she’ll be happy to try your donut recipe, thanks, xo

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Laura Shovan

Laura Shovan is the author of the award-winning middle grade novel, The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary. Her second book, Takedown, is a Junior Library Guild and PJ Our Way selection. Look for A Place at the Table, co-written with Saadia Faruqi, in 2020. Laura is a poet-in-the-schools Maryland.

Learn More