People have been frying up dough as a sweet treat for, well, almost as long as there have been people.
Nearly every culture has a version, from Greek loukoumades and French beignets to Native American fry bread and American funnel cake. While today this simple, indulgent treat is most often associated with festivals, fairs or carnivals, fried dough has of late secured a spot — and a following — on many restaurant menus.
At Ousia, a Greek and Mediterranean restaurant in New York City, one might expect to find on the dessert menu loukoumades, Greek donuts soaked in honey syrup and dusted with cinnamon and walnuts.
Instead, chef Vasiliki Vourliotaki is serving Donut Pikilia, a square-shaped hybrid of an American yeast doughnut and traditional Greek ingredients for the fillings and glazes. Recent flavors have included mastica — a spice exclusively grown in Chios, Greece — with pistachio and a mastica chocolate mousse and candied pecans.
“Our doughnuts are different because of the diverse fillings and toppings we use that are a Greek-American fusion,” said general manager Johnny Livanos. “We love meshing Greek flavor and ingredients with more common styles of food.”
And Ousia’s customers love to eat them: Donut Pikilias is one of the most popular dishes on the dessert menu.
Also taking inspiration from a classic is pastry chef Stacey Needham of Red Star Tavern in Portland, Ore. Needham recently added to her fall menu Cinnamon Sugar Donuts, inspired by the Pennsylvania Dutch community where her grandmother lives. Needham’s version features doughnuts fried to a sweet-spiced crust, served warm with a teacup of butterscotch pudding and a layer of apple butter….