For celiacs and those with gluten allergies or intolerances, donuts are a rare indulgence. Across the UK, several companies have tried their hand at the traditional fried dough dessert, none of which I am sad to say, have left me entirely convinced. Therefore when I heard about Kane’s – a traditional, family-run Donut joint in my mother’s home state of Massachusetts which offers a gluten free alternative – I had to give it a go when last in Boston.
Kane’s Donuts originally opened its doors in Saugus, Massachusetts in 1956. Created by the late donut extraordinaire Peter Delios and his wife Kay, the store quickly became an establishment whose sweet treats would attract not only locals but visitors from other states and beyond. The company was handed down to the Delios family’s five children after 34 years of business, and was quick to expand into downtown Boston. I ventured to the financial district location on my first morning back in Boston, to meet with the founder’s daughter, Maria Delios. It was there that I spent the morning learning all about the family business and the development of a particularly special gluten free donut.
Maria and her brother Paul Delios began their quest to create a “Kane’s Standard” gluten free donut seven years ago. The project was inspired by an event that took place at their Saugus location, where a family with children was sat eating donuts. “I noticed one of the children – a little girl – was sat there, not eating but instead with just a bottle of water in front of her, crying her eyes out,” Maria said. “Our dad never wanted anyone to be anything but happy when eating our donuts and so I had to go ask what was wrong.” Upon asking, the child’s mother responded that the girl had celiac disease and often had these outbursts when she couldn’t eat what everyone else was eating. “The sadness I felt for this child was unbearable, and so I hurried back to the kitchen to rustle together some toppings that I knew were gluten free,” she said. She placed them in a cup, topped them with a little bit of classic frosting, and presented them to the child with a spoon. “It was as if I had given this girl a pot of gold,” Maria said.
The emotion of the whole encounter inspired Maria and Paul to embark on the challenge to develop a gluten free donut, which took them a gruelling three years of trial and error. “Paul and I attended classes and we researched gluten free ingredients and combinations until we were blue in the face,” she said, confirming that the difficulty was not only in finding something decent to present to gluten free customers, but finding an ingredient combination that was comparable to the regular, trademark donuts which made her father famous. “We wanted everything to be as good as the way our Dad had made donuts for years,” she said. What evolved was a perfectly fluffy, high rise, rich and indulgent pillow of fried dough – the recipe for which remains a secret to this day. Maria did confirm that rice flour features prominently in the donut, but the rest remains a mystery.
Maria, Paul and the team are very cross-contamination-aware and cook all gluten free donuts in a separate kettle. “We are very upfront with all of our customers about the conditions of our manufacturing facility,” Maria confirmed, adding that while all the donuts are made in the same facility, the team go out of their way to keep all of the ingredients for regular and gluten free donuts entirely separate.
Kane’s Donuts, which will be opening a third location on Route 1 in Saugus at the end of 2017, offers three different gluten free donuts – original glazed, chocolate glazed and a special seasonal flavour, which changes each month. When I was there, I reveled in the fact that my favourite chocolate candy – Heath Bar – was the flavour of the month and sprinkled generously over a honey dipped, chocolate glazed donut. The flavour of Kane’s gluten free donuts is unbeatable and I fear for the emotional state of those who travel to the States and then have to return to a Kane’s free zone, like me. But then again I am already counting down the months, weeks and days until I can go back and indulge in these award winning donuts, each and every one of which is served up with a whole lot of love.
120 Lincoln Ave
90 Oliver St
Kane’s caters for special events including weddings. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information!
Photo Credits: Maria Delios and The Gluten Free Suitcase