It’s barely 5 a.m., but the commercial kitchen’s already filled with the aromas of frying dough and melted chocolate.
The undertaking’s an impressively streamlined one given the circumstances. Mix yeast and water, let sit. Add some flour and mix, let sit. Add all other ingredients - many of which are local and organic - and let sit again. Then flatten out (surprise, let sit), and then patiently fry the dough three at a time in a pot of hot oil. Once cooler, apply glazes or inject with filling. Hurriedly clean up. The whole process takes four hours. Welcome to a morning with Amanda Kinden.
“Baking’s a bit of an obsession,” Kinden admits. “It’s my stress reliever. It’s my go-to.”
For quite some time, the prime beneficiaries of the aforementioned activity have been Kinden’s coworkers at the Green Action Centre, where she works part-time as the Commuter Challenge coordinator. But her creations became much more than that in February, when she baked vegan and gluten-free doughnuts for a Manitoba Eco-Network event.
“They were really well received,” she remembers “People already asked for my card and if they could order from me. And I was like, ‘I think there’s something here.’ I started playing around with doughnut recipes and trying them and getting my coworkers to try them and tell me which ones they like. And here I am.”
On Sept. 3, Kinden delivered an assortment of lavender glaze, grapefruit curd and vanilla sprinkle doughnuts to Parlour Coffee for the shop’s third birthday. Simultaneously, she introduced the city to her new business, Oh Doughnuts. Her products - which have since included glazed chocolate cake, Boston cream, chai glaze and lemon curd - are currently only available at Parlour, but Kinden hopes that will eventually change.
“The space is imperative,” she notes. “Commercial kitchens are really great for people who are making cookies or pies in a jar, but I need a fryer, otherwise it’s just so inefficient. But it’s a lot better than it was. That first day, when I tried to make 100 doughnuts for Parlour, I was like ‘how am I going to do this exactly?’ I didn’t do it. I only delivered 60.”
The demand for Oh Doughnuts is already spiking: Kinden says that the day after the Parlour birthday doughnuts, someone asked if she could make a dozen of them for a staff meeting. She had to turn down the request. But a business plan is already being written in preparation for a grant proposal, and a bookkeeper is plotting out the future. In time, the downtown might just meet its first-ever dedicated doughnut store.
“I’ve got the sense that it won’t take long (to get a grant or low-interest loan) but I could just be an optimist and totally deluded,” she says, laughing. “I think the bigger problem will be actually finding a space that would be suitable. I think I’d have to put a lot of work into it. So if anyone knows where there’s a nice kitchen space I could buy, they could let me know. That’d be great.”
For more information, check out Oh Doughnuts on Facebook or Twitter: @OhDoughnuts
Published in Volume 69, Number 3 of The Uniter (September 17, 2014)