Family recipe: Donut baking runs through generations

July, 2009 Posted in Business

By Mary Owen

Karen Lane’s secret family recipe is being tested donut by donut – and her customers are coming back for more!

“The donut recipe is from my dad,” said Lane, who is owner and baker for The Donut Shop, formerly Starlight Donuts, in Stayton. She divulges part of the secret recipe –“the base is potatoes.”

Lane got her first work uniform on her 10th birthday in 1959 and started working in her dad’s donut shop in Tacoma, Wash., doing a little bit of everything. She bought the shop in 1990 when her dad retired and then sold it to her daughter, Jamie, 23, before coming to Stayton in 2006. Daughter, Britni, 17; and husband, Alan, help Lane at the Stayton bakery, continuing the family heritage.

“My husband builds custom race cars and hot rods. He owns Fast Lane Performance in Turner.” Lane said. “He’s had a crash course in how to make donuts.”

For the Lanes, donut-making is a night affair, starting about 9 p.m. and ending some 12 hours later. Only son, Rob, 18, a recent high school graduate and budding machinist, and granddaughter, Riley, 3 months, are not directly involved.

“Using potatoes as a base adds extra protein,” said Lane. “We use 100 percent vegetable shortening and pure cane sugar. Everything is homemade and fresh every day.”

It takes about three hours for the first donuts to come off the fryer, Lane said.

“We go to the extra effort and expense to make a quality product for our customers,” she added. “It’s an incredible feeling when you put so much heart into what you do.”

Lane is dedicated to making a healthy product that keeps her customers coming back.

“I love when people call and ask for something special,” said Lane, who loves to create new delicacies. “Some of our specialties are Australian scones, turnovers, cheesecakes, brownie bites, cinnamon rolls – and donuts, of course!”

Lane accommodates early birds by keeping the drive-through window open as she bakes. “I don’t want to disappoint anyone, so come see me at the drive-through,” she said.

Regulars start arriving by 5 a.m. when the shop doors open and keep coming until it closes at noon Monday through Saturday.

“Our donuts start at 65 cents and average about 95 cents apiece. We have an apple fritter the size of a plate that weighs about a pound. It goes for $2.25. We even have strawberry shortcake and biscuits and gravy.”

Cheesecakes and other specialty items should be ordered in advance. “I highly encourage people to call the day before or even week before and order things – even if it’s only one donut,” she said. “I’ll be happy to make it for them and put it aside.”

Several customers have already placed standing orders, some for their favorite donut several days a week, Lane said.

“Some days when I’ve been here for nine hours and I have one left to go and I’m really tired, someone will come in and tell me these are the best donuts they’ve ever had,” she said. “That’s what keeps me getting up every night!”

Lane is looking forward to a long relationship with the Stayton community. “And to be creative and grow more as a baker,” she added, saying she works hard to make her donuts as healthy as donuts can be.

“Make it good, make it tasty, make it comforting – and not bad for you!” she said enthusiastically.

Her own favorite? “Cinnamon-sugar raised, because I get to be messy,” she said.

Donut lovers of all ages can taste bite-sized offerings of Lane’s bakery treats at The Donut Shop’s opening celebration at the shop 171 W. Washington St., on Aug. 22. Meanwhile, to leave an order or for more information, Lane can be reached at 503-769-3334.

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