I’ve never met a doughnut I didn’t like. It all started at Warringah Mall’s Donut Dan in Sydney. A few years later in Japan, a trip to Mister Donut, for bundt cake-shaped morsels that tasted like deep friend sand dunked in plastic chocolate was a weekly treat, while in Cameroon we ate robust beignets (AKA puff puffs) made with corn flour and fried in palm oil by the side of the road. And no visit to New Orleans is complete with stepping into the Cafe du Monde for a plate of three square beignets, deep friend and lousy with powdered sugar. The mini krapfen you get at German Christmas markets also deserves a mention, not least because of their ability – coupled with a cup of steaming gluhwein mit rum – to warm you up on freezing winter mornings.
But that’s enough cold weather chatter – it’s spring in London (though you wouldn’t know it by looking out the window) and last weekend I finally got my butt to Maltby Street Market. Located about halfway between London Bridge and Bermondsey tube stations and a falafel’s throw from Tower Bridge, this neat little strip of stalls and restaurants is now my favourite foodie Mecca. Cheese toasties with bacon, pear and stilton, anyone? Pulled pork. Chewy-centred meringues, gin palaces and ice cold cerveza served in little glasses – heaven. And who knew that mead was making a comeback?
Maltby Street Market
It was the doughnuts from St John’s Bakery, however, that really caught my attention. Light as a feather, glistening with sugar and choking on vanilla cream, I practically ate mine in one bite, which is no easy feat as they’re about the same size as the palm of my hand.
Of course I had to know more, so once I’d licked my fingers clean and re-entered the present following my swoon to the sublime, I did a little googling. And wouldn’t you know it – right there on The Observer’s website, I found the recipe. It’s baker Justin Gellatly’s very own concoction – the one used to make my new found favourite sweet treat that also appears in the cookbook The Complete Nose to Tail. What’s a girl to do, but to give it a go?
St John’s Doughnuts
If I’m being honest, making these guys is a bit like the crumpet challenge. They take a bit of patience, but if you’ve got the right equipment (a stand mixer and a chef’s thermometer are essential), they’re really easy – and impressive. Some of your eagle eyes, may notice that the recipe misplaces the vanilla cream. I got around the problem by dousing mine in a golden caster sugar and cinnamon mix. When I make them again, however, I’m gunning for a chocolate custard. Stand by.
And one final comment – if all these food lovelies aren’t enough to entice you, there’s also a Lassco on Maltby Street. I love the reclaimed bits and pieces mixed with some beautifully curated new odds and sods.
For more info on Maltby Street, visit their Facebook page.
© Kate McAuley