Eat here: Doughnut Vault, Chicago

Doughnut Vault
401 1/2 N Franklin St, Chicago
http://www.doughnutvault.com

Friday! TGIF, so much this week, I can’t even tell you. Before I changed jobs last month, I’d often stop by Walker’s Doughnuts on Flinders Street on my way to the station to catch the train home for a little something to share with husband when I got home. I just figured we deserved a reward for making it through another week. I no longer catch the train home from Flinders St Station with the new job, but I am quite close to Shortstop now! Unfortunately, by the time I finish work, they’re either closed, or sold out if I finish early. So that doesn’t help. Anyway, I was thinking this week that I’m overdue for a good donut; then I got thinking about how good the donuts were in Chicago. The donut game in Chicago is VERY strong – exhibits A: Do-Rite Donuts, and B: Stan’s Donuts.

Doughnut Vault came highly recommended by a ton of food blogs I’d read in the lead up to USAdventure, and being the donut enthusiasts we are, husband and I quite happily layered up against the Chicago winter cold and trekked out. Fair warning; this place is tiny. It’s not even a café. It’s a hallway with a counter at the end. When it’s freakin cold out there in Chicago, don’t think you’re getting a respite from the cold, sitting in with a donut and hot coffee. No. You take the donuts and hot coffee and you sit outside and be cold with them.

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I guess normal people would have been like “no chance, I’m out, looking for a café I can sit in, too damn cold out there!” We’re not normal. Clearly. Donuts were purchased, we found a spot under a fire escape stair thingy, sat on the close to frozen concrete, and had the most delightfully impromptu winter picnic those streets have probably ever seen! Stupid Aussies… whatever.

We went with the vanilla glazed raised donut, on the left, and an original buttermilk, on the right. The raised donut was everything you wanted; perfect balance between cake and donut, thick and light and fluffy all at the same time, and the glaze was sugary delicious. One of my favourite donuts over there!

The buttermilk old fashioned style was actually amazing! It was a thick, solid ring of dough; I know the texture of it isn’t for everyone, and we don’t really see donuts like this in Melbourne, but we both loved it. Yeah, it was super sweet, and you probably couldn’t stomach too many, but on that cold morning, it was perfect and more than worth facing the cold to get to! Believe the hype, the donuts coming out of this place are phenomenal!

 

Doughnut Vault on Urbanspoon

Cook this: Vanilla bean powder Easter biscuits 

Happy Easter! I hope everyone’s enjoying the holiday, the time off work, the time spent with family and friends, the chocolate and other Easter treats! I’m a massive chocolate addict, but I figured there’d be enough chocolate going around for Easter, so I wanted to do something a little different; also, I know not everyone loves chocolate as much as me. I love baking cookies, and found some Easter themed cookie cutters I had tucked away in a drawer in the kitchen. I made a batch of tea cookies last week to bring in to work, and also visited Terra Madre recently where I bought some vanilla bean powder. Throw all of that together and you’ve got cookies made with vanilla bean powder infused butter, which can be made for any occasion, not just Easter  : )

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Ingredients:
– 100g butter, chopped
– 3 tsp vanilla bean powder (I get mine from Terra Madre in Northcote)
– 100g caster sugar
– 1 egg at room temperature
– 1 tsp vanilla extract (should have used more!!)
– 200g plain flour
  

 

Method – this is the same as the way you’d make the tea cookies:
1. Melt the butter and stir in the vanilla bean powder. Set aside until the butter has solidified again, but still soft – this will take around an hour or so.

2. Beat the soft butter (not melted!) and the caster sugar on medium/high speed with an electric mixer for around 3 – 5min, or until really smooth, lighter in colour and creamy.

3. Add in the egg and vanilla, and keep beating until totally combined and smooth (another minute or so).

4. Sift in the flour and mix until a thick dough comes together (you may want to use your hands to really bring it together) – roll that big clump of dough into a ball, wrap it in cling wrap, and sit it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C and line a big baking tray (or 2 smaller ones) with non-stick paper.

6. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out between two sheets of non-stick baking paper to a thickness you’re happy with, and cookies out of whatever shape or size you want.

7. Lay them on the tray (they won’t expand so you can put them fairly close together), and bake for 12 – 15 minutes, or until they are just getting a light golden edge.

8. Let them cool for a 5-10 minutes on the tray, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Then, decorate as you wish! Clearly, as you can see above with that blue and red circled cookie, my decorating skills and steadiness of hand leave much to be desired hehehe

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Eat here: GBD Fried Chicken & Doughnuts, Washington, D.C.

GBD Fried Chicken & Doughnuts
1323 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC
http://www.gbdchickendoughnuts.com

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Ohh donuts… I love you! You may make me fat and put me on a sugar high which really hurts to come crashing out of, but that’s ok, I still love you!

These donuts were particularly good after a cold, rainy, miserable day in Washington DC. We went to GBD, part donuttery, part bar, party fried chicken heaven. We just wanted some donuts and a hot coffee for husband, and a hot tea for me. Two out of three ain’t bad, I guess…

Coffee they had, no worries. Donuts, too. Tea was an issue. I battled hard in America trying to get a good, hot cup of tea. Most places didn’t do it. Why, I really don’t know – boiled water with a tea bag plonked in it really isn’t that difficult. But, as we found out, plenty of places offered sweetened iced tea. This was one of those places. The face the lady behind the counter pulled when I asked for tea with soy milk was absolutely priceless – she turned around, collected a plastic cup and filled it with ice – “ummm Jess… I don’t think you’re getting hot tea…” AAAHAHAHAHA she was going to give me a cup of COLD, iced tea with SOY MILK!!! Fantastic!! We’ll just grab some donuts to go then and make the hot drinks ourselves back at the hotel. At that stage, it was something like Jess – 0, hot tea shutdowns – 27.

So we grabbed a Nutella crunch (top) and a hot vanilla glaze. What these guys lacked in hot tea making abilities, they MORE than made up for in donut skills. The Nutella one was smothered in the good stuff, with heaps of crushed and toasted hazelnuts on top. If anything, it was maybe too sweet – it tasted like they’d mixed more sugar into the Nutella! But it was delicious!

The hot vanilla glaze was the hands down favourite, though – we literally waited around for five minutes while the donut was freshly fried for us in store, and then freshly glazed. It was nestled in a little cardboard box, swimming in hot glaze goodness. They wrapped it up in foil to keep it warm, and we luckily didn’t have far to walk. It was still nice and warm and dripping in gooey glaze when we got back, and it was perfect. Not disgustingly sweet, great vanilla flavour, and the donut itself was fantastic. We’d had an OD situation with some fried chicken earlier that day at Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken, so we sadly couldn’t double up again without being insanely unwell, but I’d love to try the chicken out if I’m ever back in DC – we saw some coming out and it looked beautiful! Anyone else tried the chicken here??

 

GBD Fried Chicken and Doughnuts on Urbanspoon