Donut Maven (& Owner) at Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery
“A donut has power to start your day right”
Just when I thought there was nothing sweeter than a donut, I met with the owner of Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery. Cathy Greene is the woman behind this family bakery celebrating its fifth summer in business. I joined Cathy and her family for a morning filled with donut making and eating. It was as delicious as you would think, so try not to be too jealous.
As soon as I walked in, the sweet sugary-scented air hit me, instantly putting me in a pastry mood. Since I usually skip breakfast this really got my belly growling. Luckily, it took no time for me to jump right in and make some frosted donuts. I started at the fryer. The batter gets pushed out into the iconic ring shape we all know and love right into the oil. An old school metal cylinder is attached to the wall and deposits the batter through the bottom as it’s cranked by hand. Cathy’s daughter, Mackenzie, quickly and skillfully flipped the donuts over with two wooden tools that looked like drum sticks, so they would cook evenly on both sides. I tried to focus, instead envisioned them rolling right down into my stomach. As soon as they were done frying, the donuts were put on a screen to cool. Once they were the right temperature, it was their time to shine with glaze. The rings got frosted and then were topped with jimmies, or sprinkles depending on where you stand on this heated national debate.
The irony in donut making, Cathy said, is that even though a donut takes only seconds to fry, the dough takes a very long time to prepare. Before they are fried, all the yummy ingredients are mixed together and rolled out, just as you would do in your own kitchen with a rolling pin. The next step is a process called “docking,” and is done while the dough is rolled out flat. A special tool makes tiny dents in the dough with its spiked rotator in order to relax the dough. With certain types of donuts, the shape is cut out at this stage. The cut out donuts are put into a big metal contraption with a glass window called the proof box. The proof box is a temperature and humidity controlled place where the dough gets the chance to rise properly, which down the road gets you a nice fluffy donut. Many hours later you got yourself some donuts that are ready to be fried.
“The hours of a baker are crazy, but it’s a labor of love,” said Cathy.
Every donut that comes out of Cathy’s kitchen is made by hand. As I covered the freshly cooked donuts with cinnamon sugar, we talked about the pros and cons of having a family business. Cathy has seven children and many of them work at the bakery.
“The pros really outweigh the cons. I really love having them here because they know how to work,” Cathy said with a contagious smile. “They can basically run this place, they know how to do everything in the front and back.”
Cathy’s purpose is to make people happy through her food and customer service, but also acknowledges the donut’s simplicity.
“Sure it is just a donut, it’s not life or death, but it does have the power to start your day off on the right foot and make you smile,” she said.
It’s all about the smiles with Cathy, and she sure was able to put one on my face when it came time to make their most popular seller; the almighty cream-filled powdered donut. If I hadn’t seen it made with my own two eyes, I would have been sure it was a cloud sent from heaven. First, the cooked treat was sliced in half so there was just about an inch or so still connected together. Then it took a little swim in powdered sugar, coming out all white and almost unrecognizable from the golden brown it once was. Then came the best part; when it got filled. The vanilla cream is put in between the two open ends with a pastry bag, creating not only a delicious, but visually appealing confection.
As the tray filled up with the cream-filled master pieces, so did the customers desire for them. Fresh donuts coming out of the window? Yes please! On a busy day Cathy can sell up to a 1,000 donuts, and you know there is truth in numbers. Cathy also makes danish, fritters, sticky buns, even specialty cakes. No matter what you order, a visit to Cathy’s 14th Street Bakery will get you a smile and friendly service along with your pink box of pastries.