My granddaughter Chloe, who’s 5, is so sweet that she doesn’t mind that I have a hole in my head. She’s also sweet on doughnuts, most of which have holes that rival mine.
So it was only fitting that, in keeping with the old Dunkin’ Donuts commercial in which Fred the Baker said, “Time to make the doughnuts,” we recently went to Dunkin’ Donuts because it was, as Chloe the Baker said, “Time to make the doughnuts.”
We arrived at the Dunkin’ Donuts store in Coram, New York, where Chloe and I often go so she can have her favorite doughnut (strawberry frosted with rainbow sprinkles) and I can have mine (jelly with powdered sugar), and were warmly greeted by shift leader Dinora Ramos.
“Is it time to make the doughnuts?” I asked.
“Yes,” Dinora replied. “How did you know?”
“I have a hole in my head,” I said.
“Doughnuts have holes, too, Poppie,” Chloe told me.
“Also,” I said to Dinora, “I’m half-baked.”
“That’s why Chloe will be making the doughnuts,” said Dinora, who asked me to help Chloe wash her hands (I had to be useful somehow) and then gave her a pair of clear plastic gloves so she not only would be abiding by health standards but wouldn’t get frosting and sprinkles all over her fingers, which happens when she eats doughnuts.
After donning an apron, so she wouldn’t get frosting and sprinkles all over her clothes, either, Chloe stepped up on a stool and got ready to decorate a batch of bare doughnuts that sat on a counter behind the store’s display case.
“These have already been made,” Dinora explained, “but you can put on any kind of topping you want.”
Dinora gave Chloe a spreader, which she dipped into a container of strawberry frosting. Then she spread the pink mixture over the first doughnut well enough to impress Dinora and the rest of the friendly staff.
“She’s a pro,” said Carlos Rivero, another shift leader.
“I use a spreader when I put spackle on the walls at home before I paint,” I said.
“It’s a good thing you’re not making doughnuts,” Carlos noted.
“That’s true,” I answered. “Spackle wouldn’t taste too good, even with sprinkles.”
“Speaking of sprinkles, would you like to put some on your doughnut?” Dinora asked Chloe, who chose the rainbow variety, which she sprinkled, very neatly, over the frosting.
“Great job, Chloe!” I said.
Chloe beamed proudly and replied, “Thank you, Poppie! Can I do another one?”
Dinora kindly let her do several more, including one for me, a jelly doughnut that Chloe topped with powdered sugar.
“Now,” said Dinora, “let’s go to the kitchen.”
Safety rules prohibited Chloe and me from getting near the oven, but Chloe actually did make doughnuts by filling a couple of them with jelly (she pushed the button on a pump machine) and spreading powdered sugar on others.
“She could be a baker,” said Johnny, one of the store’s three bakers, who make about 10,000 doughnuts a day for the area’s 11 stores.
After Chloe made two more jellies, we went back out front.
“You’re quite a chef, Chloe,” said Dinora.
“I know,” Chloe replied.
“Did you have fun?” asked Dinora.
“Yes!” Chloe exclaimed.
We both thanked Dinora, who handed us two boxes of doughnuts and said, “I know they’ll be really good because you made them, Chloe.”
Then we drove back to Nini and Poppie’s house, where my wife, Sue, aka Nini, waited with Chloe’s mommy, Lauren; her daddy, Guillaume; and her little sister, Lilly.
Chloe’s creations ran the gamut from vanilla to chocolate to jelly to Boston cream, topped with all kinds of sprinkles, chips, sugar and frosting.
As we got ready to savor her delicious treats, the little baker sat at the kitchen table and, holding a strawberry frosted with rainbow sprinkles in soon-to-be-messy fingers, smiled and said, “Time to eat the doughnuts.”
— Jerry Zezima