Some have called doughnuts the new cupcake. Move over Timmies, we’re talking about fresh, hand-made, small-batch, select ingredients, Grandma’s recipe doughnuts. It’s all part of the trend towards calorie-laden comfort food nostalgia, the kind that turns clear-thinking adults into swooning, giddy, icing-addicted zombies. Must. Eat. More. Sprinkles. Anyway, Ottawa can be slow on the food trend uptake and the popularity of artisanal donuts is no exception. Sure, we’ve seen sugar dusted fried dough popping up on restaurant dessert menus (Fraser Café and Side Door come to mind; Art-is-in Bakery makes fresh doughnuts, too) but unlike Vancouver’s Lee’s Donuts or New York/ Tokyo’s Doughnut Plant, we lay no claim to a dedicated doughnut maker of our own. But that might be about to change.
Her name is Susan Hamer. She’s a Canada Post letter carrier by day, a mom of three kids, and now a doughnut maker by the light of the moon. If you’ve visited Lansdowne Market lately, you may have noticed her display of gooey glazed treats under the banner Suzy Q Doughnuts.
On Saturdays she sets her alarm for midnight (technically Sunday) and begins the process of making the dough, letting it rise and frying them up a dozen at a time. Once she’s made, oh, about 50 dozen, she calls it quits. She uses the same recipe her Finnish mother used when she was growing up. Hamer says Finland has a fondness for doughnuts, or munkki as they are called, although her traditional yeast doughnut recipe may be German in origin. Whatever it is, these doughnuts are getting plenty of attention at the market, both from people who are nostalgic about old-fashioned yeast doughnuts and for the more adventurous sweets-lovers who appreciate Hamer’s spin on toppings and flavours.
Last weeks lineup included Maple Bacon (sold out by the time I got there), Double Chocolate, S’Mores, Buttermint, Raspberry, and Lemon Thyme. In the sprit of offering seasonal doughnuts, Hamer also made a special doughnut that was stuffed with fresh strawberries at the time it was ordered. She says her crème brulée doughnut is also a hit and it’s a fun one to make.
With such positive response to her products, Hamer says she’s planning to try and take the business to the next level. “This is becoming my passion,” she says. And judging by the looks on her customer’s faces, the feeling is mutual.
Suzy Q Doughnuts, Lansdowne Market (Sundays): doughnuts $2 each or 6 for $10