Four months into her new position as pastry chef for Lee’s Fried Chicken and Donuts, ALYSSA DOLE’S creativity can’t be contained. Every Saturday, she hits a local farmers market to see what fruit is fresh and in season, and then finds a way to incorporate it into a special “Sunday-only” donut for the shop (recent find: peaches). When they run out, they run out. But she keeps on going.
She has to. On any given weekend day, they move 750 donuts. Some of the menu items have been around from the beginning, some rotate seasonally, and Dole works on new ones constantly. Her most recent success was a peanut butter-green apple beauty.
It all starts with understanding the dough, she says. “It’s alive! You’re working with a living being,” she says of the yeasty mix. “So you have to know your dough and not be scared. I fully believe that the living dough can sense your fear.”
Other factors that can affect the outcome: room temperature, humidity, an extra tablespoon of water, broken air conditioning. “Sometimes it’s trial and error, but you learn how to adapt to weather conditions,” she laughs.
Born in Denver but raised in Houston, the Duchesne graduate went to cooking school, then worked for a year in a patisserie in Australia. Upon her return to Houston, she became the pastry chef for the Agricole Hospitality Group, which includes Coltivare and Revival Market.
SO WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO MAKE A GOOD-LOOKING DONUT? “Sprinkles,” she laughs (she laughs a lot). “Just kidding. It’s getting the sweetness and texture and consistency right. You can have the most beautiful donut in the world, but if it doesn’t hold up, you’ve got to start all over.”
From scratch, you might say.