California is America’s Donutland. Los Angeles alone has almost 1,500 independent donut shops, which is impressive even for a town that covers half a thousand square miles. Now, I’m not suggesting that Minnesota is lacking in any way, but a Californian might see our beautiful state for its dreary lack of donut shops. One such Californian named Bradley Taylor decided to make a change for the better.
“As soon as I moved here to go to the University of Minnesota, I was like ‘Where are all the donut shops?’ No one could point me to anywhere other than grocery stores or the gas station, but in California those are last resort kinds of places.
“I realized pretty early on that if I wanted good donuts, I’d have to make them myself. I started doing some research online, but it wasn’t until my friend sent me her grandma’s recipe that I found one I loved.
“After honing that recipe for another three or four months, I finally got it where I wanted it to be. The dough stood up to the abuse of stretching and rolling before I fried it. It came out of the fryer with that signature ring around the middle. And the texture – airy and soft, just the right amount of stretchiness, not too doughy once you start chewing, with a flavor that blends in seamlessly with the glaze – it was perfection.
“I made a tradition of making a couple dozen donuts every Sunday. Coincidentally all my friends made a tradition of visiting me every Sunday too.
“Pretty soon those friends started saying ‘Hey, can you make me some? I’ll pay you.’ And when we graduated and they all got office jobs, they began ordering more and more from me. I was already in the kitchen making donuts all the time anyway, so I thought I might as well get some money out of it.
“I finally bought my own donut shop in Dinkytown and ran it for about two and a half years, but I decided to close it in favor of a donut truck. A college town empties out in the summer, but with a truck you can have any real estate you want. There was a learning curve to it, sure, but being mobile really opens your eyes to all the cool things happening around Minnesota.
“The first thing people notice about my donuts is their unique square shape. There’s a lot of reasons behind that. First, Wendy’s is my favorite fast food chain because I love their square patties. (I didn’t find out about White Castle until too late in life.) Square donuts pack up better in a box. Because I literally don’t cut corners, I’m actually able to fit more donut into a donut. Finally, it’s a good marketing move. If you see someone eating a square donut, you have to ask them where they got it.
“A lot of my flavors came out of being a college student. When you’re on a tight budget and you look into your pantry, you have to get creative. You’ll say ‘Hey, I have peanut butter, and I have Cocoa Pebbles – let’s just see how well those two flavors go together.’ And a lot of the time that line of thinking gets you places.
“I name my donuts after pop culture references, like the cartoons I grew up watching or my favorite music artists. Donuts should be fun, not pretentious. No one operates a donut truck because they’re trying to get Michelin stars.”
The Donut Trap currently makes regular appearances at the farmers’ markets of Richfield, Hopkins, Prior Lake, and Northeast Minneapolis. You can also engage Bradley to park his truck wherever you want divine donuts served. You don’t need any more information than that if you’re trying to plan the perfect wedding reception.
For more information about The Donut Trap and links to Bradley’s social media that will keep you updated on his truck’s whereabouts, go and visit thedonuttrap.com.
By David Scheller