Hot Jam Doughnut | Melbourne Invention

Hot Jam Doughnut | Melbourne Invention

With the Donut Fest on the Green now becoming an annual event it may come as a surprise to discover the humble "Jam Doughnut" is a Melbourne invention.

A doughnut or donut is a fried dough confectionery food popular in many countries. National Doughnut Day or National Donut Day is celebrated in the United States on the first Friday of June of each year.

The Australian invention is the HOT JAM filling. Wikipedia has doughnuts traced back to the olykoek ("oil(y) cake") Dutch settlers brought with them to early New York (or New Amsterdam). Another theory on their origin came to light in 2013, when a recipe for "dow nuts" was found in a book of recipes and domestic tips written in 1800.

That makes two types invented here in OZ. Mick out in Thomastown still makes his Donutella Nutella Donuts.

Money for jam


Some like it hot: Melbourne's long love affair with the jam doughnut

Crisp and dusted with sugar on the outside, the first bite gives way to the pillowy texture of yeasted dough. At its core is a squirt of jam, hot and red like magma. Watch out, don't burn the roof of your mouth.

While it's beyond cliche to say that Melbourne loves its food, there aren't many dishes the city can call its own. But one treat they say you won't find anywhere else is its humble market favourite, the hot jam doughnut.

The story goes that the doughnut itself is based on the berliner pfannkuchen, a sugar-coated filled pastry from Germany, which was introduced onto these shores some time after the war.

You'll find berliners all around the world, including in the United States, but typically not straight out of the frier and freshly injected with jam. It's the '' hot' ' in hot jam doughnut that no one else does. '' They're unique to Melbourne,'' says Karl Boening from the city's oldest and best-known van, American Doughnut Kitchen at Queen Victoria Market. '' You can't even get them in other states.''

There are two major doughnut sellers in Melbourne, American Doughnut Kitchen and Dandee Donuts in the city's south-east .

While the recent trend is to make fancy flavoured doughnuts with Instagram-ready presentation then jack up the price, the cheaper hot jam variety continues to sell.

Anyone who's been to the Queen Vic Market is well aware of the queues in front of the American Doughnut Kitchen. Many are pilgrims from interstate seeking the hot jam fix they can't get at home.

'' Every time Adelaide plays football in Melbourne, business goes up because they're hungry for doughnuts,'' Karl says. '' Many people beg us to open up in Queensland but the humidity would absolutely kill us.''

American Doughnut Kitchen operates from the same vans built by founders Arnold Bridges and David Christie nearly 70 years ago.

The business was called the German Doughnut Kitchen when they bought it, owing to the snack's origins, but the name was changed to reflect post-war attitudes.

So what does it take to make the perfect doughnut?

'' That's our secret recipe, we don't tell anyone that,'' says Julie Boening, Arnold's daughter, who has worked in the business since she was 11 (she's now 64).

Some of the ingredients are obvious: yeast, sugar, flour . Others less so, such as margarine.

'' We just keep to the same recipe, we don't deviate from that and people seem to be quite happy with it,'' Julie says.

To achieve that feathery lightness, the doughnuts are proved twice. Once at the factory the night before and a second time in the van, when the heat of the friers provide perfect conditions for the dough to rise.

The operation is much the same in the yellow and purple vans of Dandee Donuts, which sells about 5000 doughnuts on a winter Saturday. Dandee Donuts has been running for 50 years, most of that at the Dandenong Market.

'' We get heaps of regulars, lots saying things like 'oh, my grandma used to bring me here when I was little' ,'' owner Susan Bell says. '' It evokes memories for people.''

Dandee Donuts traces its origins to the American Doughnut Kitchen, when an former employee decided to branch out on his own.

That was the stepfather of Susan's mother, Maureen, who bought the business with her husband Dick. It grew from their Oakleigh home into a fleet of 10 vans that sold at various markets and all the VFL grounds.

If you watch a replay of an old football game, you may catch the distinctive yellow and purple vans in the background.

American Doughnut Kitchen used to move around as well, including to the football, Moomba and Sunbury rock festival.

While she can't eat doughnuts any more ('' I've been around them all my life'' ), Susan says the new trend of expensive varieties will probably fall away.

One reason is the price; you can get a bag of half a dozen hot jam doughnuts for the price of a fancy one.

Julie agrees. '' We just keep things simple. It works and I think why change something that works. That's where you make the mistake.''

This article is from the February 11, 2018 issue of The Age Digital Edition.
Tom Cowie | TheAge


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