Jane Donut has ignited a donut renaissance in Montreal, elevating the humble donut to new heights of gourmet bliss. Jane Donut’s handmade creations are fresh, local, organic, and made with love in the Mile End. With flavours like Bourbon Maple Glaze with Candied Bacon, Caramel with Fleur de Sel, and Toasted Marshmallow, it’s no wonder donut-related daydreams are on the rise.
We caught up with the duo behind the deliciousness, Rachel Corber and Annelise Dekker, and chatted about the creative process, Pork Shows, and the holy trinity (maple syrup, meat, and booze).
While we wait eagerly for their Mile End storefront to arrive, we can get our Jane Donut fix at this weekend’s Old Skool Valentine’s Craft Fair (Feb 12 & 13 at L’Eglise St. Michel) and next month’s Puces Pop (March 5 & 6 at L’Eglise St-Enfant Jesus). Just follow the sounds of pure, donut-induced pleasure.
She Does the City: Who is Jane Donut and how did you guys get started?
Annelise: I’m an Art Director and the idea started out as a daydream to get me out of working long, stressful days staring at a computer. I wanted to do something creative, but completely unrelated to what I was doing. I basically wanted to brand the cutest donut shop on the planet. The name is just a funny play on Jane Doe (or dough) that made me smile every time I said it out loud. I started telling people about my idea, tinkering with logos, buying domain names, researching recipes, etc. I really had no idea how to make a donut, but was determined to figure it out. More than a few times Rachel’s name came up along with “you have to meet this girl I know” or “you have to try her donuts”. I had no idea Rachel was working as a pastry chef and donuts were her secret specialty/passion.
The idea for Jane Donut fully came together when mutual friends introduced us in early 2010. We met & realized we both had a similar vision for a gourmet neighbourhood donut shop, but neither knew how to make our dream a complete reality on our own. Our backgrounds complemented each other – Rachel’s talent as a pastry chef as well as her passion for making fantastic donuts, and my vision for the boutique-style brand were a perfect fit.
Rachel: My donut passion was reawakened while working at a restaurant a few years ago. Since then it’s become sort of an obsession. A while back I decided I wanted to go into business for myself, and donuts seemed like the most obvious choice. It’s something I love doing, and it’s a relatively untapped market. Once Annelise and I finally met, it was like pieces of the puzzle fitting together. I had the recipe and the pastry skills, and she had a great name and concept. Then we let the magic happen.
SDTC: Why donuts? It seems like a heretofore forgotten baked good. Are donuts the next cupcakes?
A: Donuts taste good, right? They make you smile, right? Contrary to belief, donuts are easy to make (when you have a rockin’ recipe & know all the secrets), use minimal ingredients and yeast donuts are actually better for you than a traditional cupcake. Montreal has cupcake shops all over the place, but nary a REAL donut shop – at least not a homemade, organic neighbourhood shop. Yes, donuts are definitely the next cupcake!
R: Aren’t they? People see freshly made donuts and they get really excited. Cupcakes are great, but you can get one almost anywhere. They’re a little overplayed, and have been since about 2004. Don’t get me wrong, a good cupcake is always appreciated, but we wanted to do something really different. Lots of other cities have gourmet donuts shops, but Montreal is lacking. We’re filling a market void!
SDTC: Describe an average day in the Jane Donut kitchen.
A: Well, right now we are continually working on test kitchens (for new flavours), special orders and shows, so the kitchen isn’t always open. When it is, it usually involves a pretty awesome production line of dough making, rolling, frying & flavouring. Basically we are both pretty well covered head-to-toe in dough & flour. It was pretty chaotic when we first started, but we quickly figured out a routine and now there are stories, laughter, lots of expletives & always the little rush of “look what we made” pride when everything is beautifully boxed & ready to sell. It really is gratifying to make something by hand – especially when it looks as awesome & tastes as amazing as our donuts.
SDTC: I’ve heard several people describe has described your Maple Bacon donut as the mind-blowingest baked good they’ve ever eaten. What was the inspiration behind it?
A: This is Rachel’s creation. It is not a new combination of ingredients, but Rachel perfected it & made it her own by adding the bourbon. She also candies the bacon in maple syrup, so it is all around amazing. It has all of the elements of a comfort food – bread, sugar, maple syrup, meat, booze. C’mon, what’s not to love? It’s everything you ever wanted to taste in one hand-held circle of goodness. It echoes our Canadian affinity for all things maple syrup, the Cabane à Sucre culture here in Quebec and is just a damn good donut. Mind-blowing is pretty accurate – it is our best seller & people often come back for more than one. We always sell out.
R: I first made maple bacon donuts at a restaurant I was working at. We were participating in the Pork Show (yes, this actually exists) and I was challenged to come up with some bacon-y desserts. I have long been obsessed with the salty-sweet desserts, and had been candying bacon for cookies and just for snacks for a while. I had also heard about the bacon donut & decided to make my own version – many versions later Jane Donut’s Maple Bourbon Bacon was born.
SDTC: I’ve drooled over the wondrous concoctions that have emerged from your test kitchen, like Toasted Marshmallow and Bourbon Maple Glaze with Candied Bacon. What other delights has the Jane Donut test kitchen dreamed up? Any new flavours in the works?
A: Oh, we have the longest list of flavours in the works! The basics are always going to be around – Chocolate Ganache Glazed, Cinnamon Sugar, Sour Cream Glazed, a Fritter, etc. The gourmet flavours are where we’re really going to have fun. The toasted Marshmallow is pretty amazing – Rachel makes her own homemade marshmallows and pipes it on to warm donuts & then toasts it with a torch. It’s pretty cool! We’ve got Caramel with Fleur de Sel, Tea & Milk (an Earl Grey infused custard with a Chocolate Ganache top), different flavoured Cheescake donuts. The list really is endless & we’re always working on new ideas. Right now we’re working on a ‘Miami’ donut. A cream-filled, toasted coconut concoction – a nod to the Vachon treats of our youth. It’s going to be amazing! Our kitchen is always organic & nut-free, so it takes time to source ingredients and perfect each flavour. We’re also tinkering with gluten-free and vegan versions.
R: I have donuts on the brain pretty much 24/7. I’m always thinking about different flavour combinations. The possibilities are endless and we get inspiration from almost everything; from hot drinks to cocktails, chocolate bars to snack cakes and favourite desserts!
SDTC: Where can I get a steady supply of Jane Donuts?
A&R: Right now we’re just taking special orders, supplying special events & working shows. You can reach us through our facebook page (facebook.com/janedonut). We’ll be at the Old Skool Valentine’s Craft Fair Feb. 12 & 13 (L’Eglise St. Michel/corner of St. Viateur & St. Urbain). We’ll also be at the spring Puces Pop fair March 5th & 6th (L’Eglise St-Enfant Jesus/corner of St. Joseph & St. Dominique).
SDTC: What is next for Jane Donut?
A&R: A Mile-End storefront is in the works as is our website. We’re working hard to bring Jane Donut goodness to you on the regular!
Check out Jane Donut at the Old Skool Valentine’s Craft Fair:
Feb 12 & 13 from 11am-6pm at L’Eglise St. Michel – corner St. Viateur & St. Urbain
And next month’s Puces Pop: March 5 & 6 at L’Eglise St-Enfant Jesus – corner of St. Joseph & St. Dominique
~ Heidi Craig
Photo Credit (blue and white background): Reanna Evoy
All other photos: Jane Donut