By Joe Bargmann
Baked goods have a way of inspiring irrational devotion. It’s not force of habit that drives us to buy the same thing at the bakery every time we go there. It’s love. Love of sugar and butter and milk and flour. Love of whatever spices and special morsels the baker adds to the sugar, butter, milk, and flour. Love of the aroma, the texture, the moisture—love of the whole freakin’ delicious thing, excessive carbs and calories be damned.
My love waits for me—sometimes not very patiently, because it tends to sell out—behind curved glass at Albemarle Baking Company. The good people there call it a donut. That, my friends, is an egregious misnomer. For one thing, this alleged donut is served with the hole, meaning, the plug of dough that is removed to create the hole in a pathetic real donut. The ABC baker (a genius, I’m sure) cuts it out, bakes it along with the rest of the “donut,” and then nudges it partially back into the void. It protrudes like a thumb and is ritualistically the first thing I grab and stuff into my greedy, gaping maw.
What happens next—and you can stop reading if I’m making you uncomfortable—is a mere prelude to fulfillment. The first bite, between the upper and lower molars on the right side of my mouth (I need some work done on the left), starts with the compression of the dense-yet-airy dough and the crunch of granulated sugar, which is applied copiously to the entire confection after it is pulled from the oven and brushed with melted butter. The texture is neither like a raised nor a cake donut. It is, in fact, much closer to that of a moist scone.
And so, dear people, I present the sconut: a perfect pastry ring, more than an inch thick, shot through with BB-sized dried currants, and perfumed with nutmeg. It is best eaten while you’re standing up or wearing a bib, otherwise your shirt will end up covered with sugar. ABC may continue to call it a donut, but don’t be fooled. The sconut is in a class of its own. The sconut is pure love.