Doughnut Heaven

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Since he began frying doughnuts in his East Village basement twelve years ago, using his North Carolina baker grandfather’s recipe, Mark Isreal has made himself and his doughnuts New York City landmarks, selling to carriage-trade shops like Dean & Deluca and Zabar’s and coyly (and correctly) refusing to ship them anywhere. What sets his doughnuts apart is the quality of the ingredients, particularly the butter—yes, doughnut batter has a lot of it—and the flavorings.

These days practically the first thing a visitor sees at the Doughnut Plant, Isreal’s utilitarian Lower East Side shop, is a sign: NO TRANS FATS. Liquid oil (he fries in corn oil) is no problem for yeast doughnuts—airy, if very large, delights, which he makes in flavors like Valrhona chocolate and pistachio. But cake doughnuts are hard to make without trans-fat shortening, which thickens when it cools and gives Dunkin’ Donuts’ and other good commercial cake doughnuts the velvety, mouth-coating texture that virtuous corn oil can’t quite match.

Isreal is as secretive about his recipes as he is talkative, so he wouldn’t tell me which three milks he uses for Tres Leches, the best of his cake doughnuts. But I suspect that condensed or evaporated milk, sweet and very thick, is his workaround for the mouthfeel challenge. None of his doughnuts are ascetic, but these are lush.

Doughnut Plant, 379 Grand Street, New York City, 212-505-3700.

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Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." More

Corby Kummer's work in The Atlantic has established him as one of the most widely read, authoritative, and creative food writers in the United States. The San Francisco Examiner pronounced him "a dean among food writers in America." Julia Child once said, "I think he's a very good food writer. He really does his homework. As a reporter and a writer he takes his work very seriously." Kummer's 1990 Atlantic series about coffee was heralded by foodies and the general public alike. The response to his recommendations about coffees and coffee-makers was typical--suppliers scrambled to meet the demand. As Giorgio Deluca, co-founder of New York's epicurean grocery Dean & Deluca, says: "I can tell when Corby's pieces hit; the phone doesn't stop ringing." His book, The Joy of Coffee, based on his Atlantic series, was heralded by The New York Times as "the most definitive and engagingly written book on the subject to date." In nominating his work for a National Magazine Award (for which he became a finalist), the editors wrote: "Kummer treats food as if its preparation were something of a life sport: an activity to be pursued regularly and healthfully by knowledgeable people who demand quality." Kummer's book The Pleasures of Slow Food celebrates local artisans who raise and prepare the foods of their regions with the love and expertise that come only with generations of practice. Kummer was restaurant critic of New York Magazine in 1995 and 1996 and since 1997 has served as restaurant critic for Boston Magazine. He is also a frequent food commentator on television and radio. He was educated at Yale, immediately after which he came to The Atlantic. He is the recipient of five James Beard Journalism Awards, including the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award.
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