Their origins may be obscure, but there's almost no one who doesn't enjoy them. Doughnuts as we know them got their start at the end of the 19th century, when they were a favorite dessert with enough stature to be served at the opening of the famed Isabella Stewart Gardner house in Boston. After countless permutations, they finally evolved into the modern version often eaten at breakfast time.
While there isn't a place in the country where you can't find a doughnut, it is hard to find a good old-fashioned handmade one. On the Lower East Side of New York City, Mark Isreal has been making batches of his big hand-cut doughnuts for five years at the Doughnut Plant.
Mark, who adapted his grandfather's doughnut recipe, believes that careful attention to detail and an insistence on using only fresh, natural, and organic ingredients are what set his confections apart. He and a small staff work through the night to mix the dough, let it rise, and finally fry and glaze the doughnuts -- turning out as many as 1,200 doughnuts a day. His glazes change daily and employ seasonal fruits bought from a local market; flavors include orange, raspberry, vanilla, and pistachio.
Learn more about Mark Isreal and the Doughnut Plant.