Have you noticed a significant uptick in the number of doughnut photos in your social media feeds lately? No, you’re not pregnant.
Those delicious looking creations are probably from La Dona Donuts.
Chelsea Elliott, 29, is the owner of the gourmet doughnut company that launched in January. La Dona Donuts doesn’t have a store – yet – but these doughnuts can be delivered right to your door. You can also find her tasty creations at Perq Coffee Bar — delivered fresh every Wednesday and Saturday.
Elliott spent a year in Baltimore, where she saw the trend of gourmet doughnut shops beginning to take off. Major metro areas around the country — from Philadelphia to New York and Washington, D.C. — were seeing a doughnut revival, but not Sarasota, the city where Elliott has spent most of her life.
She was inspired to bring the baked goods trend to Sarasota, even though she had never baked a doughnut before in her life.
On Black Friday 2014, her boyfriend bought her a mixer. With some encouragement from her friends and family, she started making small batches of doughnuts from scratch in her kitchen.
Her first creation was the maple bacon doughnut, which also happens to be her best seller.
The demand for her doughnuts have sky rocketed over the last few weeks as word about her business has spread around town. Once she made 220 doughnuts just to fill a day’s order.
Elliott wakes up between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. every day to start baking.
But it’s all in a day’s work for a passionate doughnut enthusiast.
Unravel: So how did you find your doughnut recipe?
Elliott: I emailed every doughnut shop all over the country and I asked them every question I possibly could. I never asked for their recipe, of course. They’re not going to give me that, but I was trying to get any advice I possibly could. A lot of people were really willing to help me. I do have some mentors out there.
I would tell them about my experiences and say, “it’s a little dense, it’s a little airy.” Because baking doughnuts is a science. There is a science behind it. So when I was having little issues they (mentors) would tell me, “OK, add a little egg. Add a little this. What do you put in here? What do you do there?”
There is one shop in California called Sugary Donuts that I messaged through Facebook and they helped me and took over my recipe and tweaked it a little for me.
Were you always a doughnut person?
I grew up knowing every Saturday my dad would bring home doughnuts. They were always from Publix. But I never made them myself before I was an adult. I’ve always baked. I love baking. I love doing cakes, but doughnuts were a first for me recently.
Where did the name come from?
La Dona actually means “the doughnut” in Spanish. Actually, my boyfriend is Spanish and when I was going over this idea I really didn’t go gung-ho with it until I had a name. And once I had I name I was like, “Oh my God I have something!” So I asked him one day, “What does that mean in Spanish anyway?” La dona?” I liked it. It had a little ring to it so I decided to keep it.
Is there a doughnut that seems to be a favorite among your customers?
Definitely maple bacon. One of those always goes out with every order. Dulce de leche is another favorite. It’s a very plain looking doughnut, but it means “sweet milk” so it’s very caramely and a little salty. That’s my personal favorite, so I have to stay away from them when I’m baking.
What’s the fun in delivering your doughnuts?
I love delivery! It’s funny because I never thought that I would. I’m the worst with maps. But I’m discovering so much more about Sarasota than I ever thought I would.
I like to open the box for people and explain to them each and every one. I love to see the reaction on their faces. They’re always so excited. A lot of people don’t even want to eat or touch them. They just go, “Oh my God! I just want to take pictures. I don’t even want to eat them.” Someone even said once that they look fake!
What’s next for La Dona Donuts?
It’s rough because I want a storefront so bad but I’m really trying to do this all on my own. I have a lot of people really interested in coming on board from the outside.
As of now, I feel like I really have to go gung-ho. My goal was to open a store on June 5 because that’s National Donut Day. It’s only two months away but I’m going to try. I’m really going to try.
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