With so many flavours and types out there, narrowing down my entry was pretty easy: the Dutchie.
"Dutchie?" I hear some of you say. "What on Earth are you talking about?" (Okay, others are saying, "Oh man, couldn't you do something good?" while others are leaping about for joy (yeah, I hear the little thuddy sounds)).
To me, the Dutchie is the quintessential Canadian doughnut. And trust me, Canadians know doughnuts. According to this CBC article, there are more doughnut shops per capita here than anywhere else on our big blue marble, and we eat more doughnuts than anyone else in the world (that and, apparently, KD).
Available at pretty much every Tim Hortons (but the one in my office), these sultana-studded pillows of sugary-glazed, yeast-risen goodness seem to have as many fans as detractors...is it the coffee shop's embodiment of our two solitudes? Peut-être...but it has nothing to do with our national soul-searching, culture-defining, language-determining passtime...In my opinion, it has everything to do with freshness.
Enter any hockey area at 6am (or earlier) and you'll see a gaggle of parents, clutching their double-doubles, munching away on Dutchies watching their kids practice. Walk into a Timmy's and you'll see a number of women conversing and cajolling over coffee and their Dutchies. Head off to the office and you'll see the guys gravitate to the still-warm deep fried squares of dough-covered raisins. These, I think, are those in the pro-Dutchie contingent. People who happen to get their treats freshly made, retaining a bit of oven warmth.
The anti-Dutchie group seem to centre on two issues. The first is raisins: people either like them or they don't (not sure if I've ever met anyone who's indifferent to the wrinkled beasts). So, if you don't like raisins, you probably won't like Dutchies. The other point is their peculiar ability to go stale faster than any other of Tim's doughnutty offerings (ring, twists, fritters or Timbits); unless you see someone put them on display racks or if they still have their "just made" tag, chances are the glaze has dried and begun to flake off and the doughnut itself may be better used as the puck at those 6am practices.
Why are they called Dutchies? I don't know--and Tim's won't tell me. I sent them a very polite email asking for non-nutrient info on these treats, which they've promptly ignored. (Edit: They've since replied.) My theory is they are based on the Dutch oliebollen...but who really wants to eat something that sounds vaguely like "oily ball" so in true pocket-riffling, while wearing rubber gloves style, these fried cakes were monickered "Dutchies." (If someone really knows why they are called Dutchies, please let me know and I'll amend this post...or post your theory...and no "they were originally made from Dutch people" is not an acceptable response, sorry JDN.)
Unlike most doughnuts, Dutchies aren't ring doughnuts or twists--they are squares or rectangles, made from a yeast-risen dough, sprinkled with raisins. I want to say the Dutchies of my childhood were glazed in honey, but now seem to be glazed in a simple syrup. If anything, they are reminicent of a blueberry fritter-sans blueberries. Most I've seen are uncomfortably large and more filling than I'd like. If I have one, I usually split it into two or three and save the rest for later. Microwaving helps diminish the staleness a bit.
I searched for an appropriate recipe to try, but I couldn't find one. I looked at several oliebollen, olykoek and beignet recipes in attempts to figure out my own variant, but in the end, I decided to base the recipe on my dear friend Edna Staebler's Kucha recipe from Food That Really Schmecks.
In her fat cakes section, she recommened using plain kucha dough for yeast doughnuts (you can simply roll the dough out and form it into little buns and bake them at about 180-200C (350-400F) until done). Edna's never steered me wrong, so I followed her advice and used the plain kucha as the base, adding the sultanas, spicing and honey-water glazing to transform them into Dutchies.
adapted from Edna Staebler's Kucha from Food That Really Schmecks
yield approx. 15
250ml hand-hot milk
55g butter, very soft
grated zest of one small lemon
1 egg, well beaten
420g plain flour (you may need less)
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/4tsp ground nutmeg
100g sultanas, soaked in boiling water with about 1/4tsp bicarbonate of soda
honey-water of whatever strength you prefer
Sprinkle the yeast into the warm milk, then add the butter, sugar, salt and zest and stir well. Add the egg and spices. Stir in enough flour so the dough holds together, but is still tacky. Be careful to not add so much flour that the dough is stiff-- if after you've added all the flour the dough still seems too loose and tacky, bundle it up and let it firm in the fridge for about 20 minutes. Take out your frustrations on the dough for about 15 minutes before letting it double in size in a warm place--anywhere from one to two hours.
After the dough has risen, punch it down and add the drained sultanas and knead again to distribute the fruit. Roll out to 1cm thickness and cut to 5cm squares. Place the squares on a lightly floured surface and let them rise again, until they've doubled in size.
Fry in hot oil until golden and blot on paper towels, then glaze with honey-water.
Edit: Kucha clarifcation
Related Post: Pass the Dutchie on the left hand side