It’s National Doughnut Week.

Its National Doughnut Week 7th – 14th May 2011. Raising money for The Children’s Trust. For one week every year through the sale of doughnuts at their outlets, participating bakers across the UK will be helping to raise money for The Children’s Trust, a national charity which provides care, education and therapy for children with multiple disabilities and complex health needs.

Archaeological evidence indicates that doughnuts in one form or another have been produced since prehistoric times (petrified fried cakes with hole in the centre have been found in Southwest USA). It’s not understood how these were made, or exactly what they were made from so it isn’t until the mid mid-19th century where we find the first recorded doughnut recipes. Doughnuts were known as olykoeks, or oily cakes, and it’s primarily the Dutch who are credited with taking sweet dough balls and frying them in pork fat.

It is pilgrims from Holland who are attributed with transporting the olykoeks abroad. There was a problem with doughnuts back then. When the olykoeks were pulled from the frying kettle, the centers were rarely fully cooked. By inserting a filling that needed only to be warmed, a temporary solution was achieved. And there we have it, the origin of the jam doughnut.. However, it was discovered that olykoeks with holes in the centre cooked far more evenly and therefore we have the establishment of the ring doughnut.

By the 1920’s, doughnuts were being mass-produced. Their association with breakfast was only just beginning and the doughnut was more popular as a snack in theaters. To satisfy the growing demand for doughnuts in one New York neighborhood, a Russian expatriate named Adolph Levitt created the first doughnut machine. By 1934, the same year that the World’s Fair in Chicago declared the doughnut “the food hit of the Century Of Progress”, Levit was pulling down twenty-five-million dollars annually for the sale of his doughnut machines to bakeries. The 1940’s and 50’s, saw the advent of doughnut chains such as Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Dunkin’ Doughnuts. As coffee became more of a staple in bakeries across the country, the perception of the doughnut as a breakfast item became more prevalent.

While doughnuts are often seen as a predominantly US phenomenon their popularity in the UK has grown substantially, particularly with the growth of chains like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin donuts. Here in the northwest there are several stores, and these days nearly every Tesco stocks Krispy Kreme as well as their own in store bakery doughnut.

It’s national doughnut week. Go and buy a doughnut at a participating outlet.

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