Holey mission: Bonny Hudson finds the holy grail of apple cider doughnuts

By Shawn Cunningham
© 2022 Telegraph Publishing LLC

Bonny Hudson and her granddaughter Harleigh in the kitchen Photos by Shawn Cunningham

If you want the doughnuts up front by 8, you have to start at 4:30,” says Bonny Hudson as the deep fryers bring the soy oil up to temperature in the kitchen of Smitty’s Chester Market.

It’s a little after 7 on a recent Saturday morning in October, and Hudson and her 12-year-old granddaughter Harleigh Burns have everything ready to prepare the 12 dozen apple cider doughnuts her customers crave.

Before the store opens at 8, Hudson and Harleigh will have cut out, fried and coated a couple dozen doughnuts with cinnamon sugar before placing them upfront for sale. All they need now is the hot oil.

Hudson cuts out the first doughnuts

But this morning the oil is taking a little longer than usual to heat up so Hudson has a little time to talk about the apple cider doughnuts that she and Harleigh started making for the market in the fall of 2020.

Since then the doughnuts have become an attraction as they appear each autumn Saturday beginning in October and are quickly snapped up, usually within two hours.

Hudson noted that on the previous day she made 100 for a special order.

The perfect golden brown

Hudson says she tried out a few different recipes before landing on this one — the one she has taped to the wall above the stainless steel table where she works on the dough. But what’s on that orange sheet of paper isn’t the whole story.  Hudson says there are a few  secrets — in ingredients and preparation — that aren’t written down.

The dough takes about 45 minutes to make,  then it’s refrigerated for two hours. Around 7, Hudson rolls it out and lets it rest while the oil heats. But while the dough is chilling, Hudson is not. She uses the time to prepare ready-to-eat foods for the steam table and the deli case.

Harleigh adds the finishing touch

Cutting out the doughnuts (and the all important doughnut holes) Hudson carefully slips six of the sinkers into each fryer and watches for just the right shade of golden brown to appear before flipping them over.

When both sides are the perfect color,  Hudson turns them over to Harleigh who piles cinnamon sugar on each hot doughnut before shaking off the excess. Harleigh then arranges the first 24 in a foil roasting pan for their trip to the front of the store.

It’s 7:45 a.m. and after a quick photo, it’s back to the kitchen to make another 10 dozen.

The first doughnuts are ready

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  1. Sharon Jonynas says:

    This is such a great story! Bravo to Bonny and Harleigh!