ALL YOU KNEAD IS DOUGHNUTS
Several Estacada bakers are dedicated to making the town a bit sweeter, working on National Doughnut Day in June and beyond.
The celebration of baked goods on Friday, June 7, has patriotic origins. In the early 1900s, volunteers from the Salvation Army served baked items to soldiers fighting in Europe during World War I. Some of the doughnuts were cooked in oil inside the metal helmets of American soldiers, who were commonly known as "doughboys."
Along with the June date, another National Doughnut Day is celebrated in November.
Whether it's a day dedicated to doughnuts or not, employees at Harmony Baking Co. and Grammy's Old-Fashioned Donuts begin their work early.
At Harmony, the process begins the day before with creating the dough so it has time to properly rise. Then, employees arrive at 3:30 a.m. the following morning to begin baking the creations.
"Employees come in the wee hours in the morning when the town is sleeping. We have to be here many hours before the sun rises," said Harmony Baking Co. owner Linda Lawrence.
The dough is cooked in the fryer and cut into shape. Raised doughnuts are put into a proofer, which is a box with warm air that causes them to rise.
The next step is putting icing on the doughnuts, which also is made at the bakery. Filled doughnuts tend to take extra time, since they need to be both iced and filled. In total, Lawrence estimated that the process takes about four hours each morning.
"It takes a while for the dough to develop. The dough will tell you when it's ready," Lawrence said, noting that in warmer temperatures, the doughnuts will rise faster. "It changes with the seasons."
James Beachy of Grammy's Old-Fashioned Donuts mixes what will become his first batch of doughnuts at 6:15 a.m. before leaving his home for the morning. Once the baked goods have their finishing touches, they are hung from the food truck's "doughnut tree" for customers to admire and eat.
Beachy has operated Grammy's Old-Fashioned Donuts with his family since 2016. Each week, the mobile establishments visits several cities around the region and can be found across from the Estacada Post Office every Friday. The local residents have worked in Estacada since earlier this year.
Grammy's specializes in large, glazed doughnuts. Beachy noted that they've found success while focusing on simple elements.
"It's a basic glaze and a basic doughnut, but the combination is phenomenal," he said.
At Harmony, the top selling doughnuts are apple fritters and maple bars, though each customer has their favorite treat.
"If you're under 3 feet tall, you go for the sprinkles. And there are also a few 6-foot-tall kids who can't live without the sprinkles, meaning that they're adult men," Lawrence said.
Over the years, there have been many doughnut-related trends like unusual toppings, but that hasn't been a focus for Harmony or Grammy's.
"Some other places put cereal and different things (on the doughnuts), but we've stayed mostly with traditional stuff, like homemade icing and glaze," Lawrence said.
"In my opinion, if you have to put all kinds of weird toppings on your doughnut, it's not a good doughnut," Beachy added. "If the doughnut can't speak for itself, it's not worth it."
Both Beachy and Lawrence noted that the baked creations often evoke memories for people.
"When someone grabs ahold of a doughnut and takes a bite, there are two usual reactions. One, their face lights up, or two, there are tears (from memories)," Beachy said. "People remember how they remind them of their mom or their grandma's doughnuts."
This nostalgia is one inspiration behind Grammy's name.
"We wanted to find a name that was unique and would take people back into their past," Beachy said.
At Harmony Baking Co., Lawrence and her staff have strived to make the doughnuts accessible to everyone. When the bakery first opened more than three decades ago, doughnuts were 35 cents. Today, they are 75 cents.
"The doughnuts are so everyone that lives here can have a good treat," Lawrence said.
Day of Doughnuts
Harmony Baking Company, 221 S.W. Wade St, will celebrate National Doughnut Day on Friday, June 7, with raffle drawings at the top of every hour. There will be a variety of prizes, including the opportunity to be a doughnut maker for a day at the bakery.
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