In theory, Doughnut Dolly is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Wednesday through Sunday), but by noon on a Thursday, the stock was running perilously low. "As if the world was ending and people wanted to party," laughs Hannah Hoffman, the woman behind it all.
Hoffman's background isn't as a pastry chef. She studied food anthropology at Berkeley and N.Y.U., and prior to her current 2 a.m. wake-up call to fire the ovens, catered dinners for private clients. Thinking of a food truck, she experimented with various desserts until she struck gold.
Or Naughty Cream, rather. It's a mixture of crème fraiche and vanilla beans, and it's available daily, along with lemon curd, a jam flavor, a chocolate (rotating among dark chocolate, Mexican chocolate and hazelnut) and -- soon -- a fifth, seasonal option.
Pillowy, fresh and lacking holes, these pockets of fried goodness are truly fantastic, neither gooey nor crumbly. (They'd better be good, considering the framed, circa-1975 photo Hoffman keeps in the workspace, depicting her mother cooking at Chez Panisse with baby Hannah on the food prep counter.)
Using old-timey, funnel-shaped German pastry machines, Hoffman injects each customer's doughnut with the desired filling--not only for freshness and aesthetics, but "because it's fun, a reciprocal process. People delight in eating a doughnut. They're so democratic."
The 19th century contraptions are pleasingly tactile and analog, imparting the difference between a "doughnut" and a mere "donut," perhaps. The proof? The absence of any of them by 12:30 p.m.
"So sorry!" Hoffman apologizes to the first person she has to turn away, flipping the "Open" sign over, so that it reads "All Gone."
Doughnut Dolly 482B 49th St., Oakland, (510) 338-6738.