Bogart’s Doughnut Co. in Southwest Minneapolis

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

About a dozen years ago, you could get a doughnut on the corner of 36th and Bryant in Southwest Minneapolis, next to where Gigi’s is now. There may have been other baked goods, but I honestly don’t remember. All I remember is the old-fashioned, the way its deep crags opened up on the top and filled with crunchy glaze. And beneath the crunch, it was just buttery pound cake through and through.

And then the little doughnut shop closed, as did some others. And nobody thought much about doughnuts for a few years. And then there were suddenly doughnuts everywhere — but fancy ones, with bright glazes and exotic fillings and bits of bacon on seemingly every surface. The humble old-fashioned never really made a comeback.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

But doughnuts did come back to 36th and Bryant. The last week of May, Anne Rucker opened Bogart’s Doughnut Co., the long-awaited storefront companion to her beloved bakery endeavor. (Don’t worry, yes, you will see her at a few markets and festivals this year.)

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Bogart’s doughnuts straddle the world between the old bakery at 36th and Bryant and the high-falutin’ doughnuts of today. Rucker makes six varieties, including two cake doughnuts ($2 each) and four raised ($3 each). She makes her raised doughnuts with a rich, hefty brioche dough and fills them with a fantastic homemade buttercream and with — a little trendier — Nutella (above). They are truly something else.

The cake doughnuts (one chocolate, one lavender) don’t live up to my memories of those magnificent old-fashioneds (no crags, no pound cake–perfect texture), but really nothing ever could.

The neighborhood has spoken, however: Folks line up when the doors open at 6:30, and the “Sold Out” sign is hung about 10am every morning.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

We talked with Rucker (above) about how her new business came to be and why we all go gaga for doughnuts.

How did Bogart’s Doughnut Co. start?

I was working as an attorney and writing a food blog, and I wanted to do something with food. I’d always been a big baker, so I applied for space at the Kingfield Farmers Market in 2011.

I started out with a stand that had, I think, about a dozen items — brownies, cookies, everything. And I had a brioche doughnut and a brown-butter glazed doughnut.

By my second year, I figured I had to focus and I cut everything but the doughnuts. We sold out every weekend, so my husband and I started talking about finding a little space. It started out as a pipe dream, but the next thing we knew, we were signing a lease. Oh, and I had a baby sometime in there, too!

Are you still working as an attorney, with doughnuts as a sideline?

It’s all doughnuts all the time now.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

What’s a typical day like for you?

I’ve been getting to the shop at midnight to start cutting and proofing. I’ve got someone who comes in and helps me with the frying about 4am. At 6, we start making the brioche dough for the next day. That’s all happening upstairs, while we’re selling doughnuts downstairs. We’re usually all out of there by 1pm.

It’s only been a few weeks now, but it already feels like a year.

Were you surprised when you saw the lines on the first day?

I was completely bowled over. I had been thinking, “Well, I hope people come in.” And then I was completely flabbergasted.

Our space is really small, and our fryer is really small. I had never expected the demand to be so big. People come before we even open. We had a woman with a lawn chair and a book on Sunday. It was unreal.

We’re in the process of getting a bigger fryer, which is crazy for only a few weeks in.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

How did you learn to bake?

I did a lot of baking as a child with my Great Aunt Esther and my grandmother. Their maiden name was Bogart, and my middle name is Bogart.

Could you keep doing this for a while?

The lack of sleep is tough, but I love it. I love what I’m doing. I count my blessings every day because I’m doing what I love and not everyone gets to do that.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Why do we all love doughnuts so much?

I’ve always loved doughnuts. I think it was inevitable that the old-school, mom-and-pop doughnuts would evolve into what they are today. There’s a lot of nostalgia around doughnuts. They always make me think of being with my grandparents and looking into the glass case.

There used to be doughnut shops all over the place. I don’t know what happened or where they all went. Now you’ve got gas station doughnuts or fancy doughnuts.

Mine aren’t totally traditional, but I try to make something like a classic doughnut.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Lots of bakeries are going crazy with doughnuts right now, with glazes and fillings and bacon and that sort of stuff. Why are you keeping it simple?

I’ve always liked a classic doughnut a little better. I made a maple-bacon doughnut years ago, but I thought, “It’s been done by others.” And now my shop is actually kosher certified, so I couldn’t do it anyway.

I might add a sprinkle doughnut, but nothing too decorated or precious. I like the idea of having a fried piece of delicious sweet dough, maybe with something like a filling or a glaze that makes it even better.

What’s next for you?

Right now, I’m just amazed and overwhelmed by the turnout. We’re working very hard to ramp up production, without cutting corners, and get more doughnuts in the hands of the people who stand in line.

It makes me feel terrible when people can’t get doughnuts. That’s been the hardest part for me. I don’t want to let anyone down.

Bogart’s Doughnut Co., 910 W 36th St, Minneapolis, MN 55408; 612.886.1670

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

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About the Author

Tricia Cornell

Tricia has been called the mother of “world-class veggie eaters” in the Star Tribune (that is patently untrue) and an “industrious home cook” in the New York Times (true, but was it a compliment?). She loves Brussels sprouts, hates squash, and would choose salty and sour flavors over sweet just about any day. She is the author of Eat More Vegetables, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2012, and The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook, published by Voyageur Press in 2014.

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