- Peter Pan Donuts is a beloved doughnut destination in Brooklyn, NY.
- The old-school style shop is famous for honey-dipped and red velvet doughnuts, glazed on Peter Pan’s famous “Glaze Wall.”
- Bakers hang 10 doughnuts on a rod and let the excess glaze drip off to ensure every ring is glazed evenly throughout.
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Following is a transcript of the video.
Taryn Varricchio: Fresh dough cut into perfect rounds. Dozens fried in piping hot oil, a minute on each side, only flipped when golden brown and lightly crisp. Stacked up on a long rod and drenched in a think honey glaze. Hung up on two metal hooks to let the excess glaze drip down, so that each doughnut is evenly coated and perfectly sweet. It’s the special way that this simple dough is fried and glazed that make Peter Pan’s Donuts a legend in Brooklyn and beyond. Hours before customers fill the stools at the U-shaped countertop, bakers at Peter Pan are busy making doughnuts.
Customer: This is definitely a Greenpoint staple. People wait here for 45 minutes, an hour, just to get a doughnut.
Customer: I got a doughnut! It’s no line! It’s no line!
Taryn: Bakers come to work at midnight to make dough from scratch. They start with the shop’s popular yeast doughnuts, since those take the longest to make. Bakers measure out flour and sugar with a scale before dumping each ingredient into an industrial steel mixer. The mixer blends flour, sugar, milk, butter, and eggs. On a typical day, bakers go through about 40 pounds of flour to make 1,000 doughnuts.
Donna Siafakas: The only machine back there is to mix it, but everything is done by hand. You saw it. He was hand cutting every doughnut and hand glazing them, and it makes a difference.
Taryn: Bakers roll the dough about an inch thick. Any thinner, and the doughnuts will shrink too much when they fry. Then they cut the doughnut into perfect rounds, some with holes and others without, depending on whether the doughnut has a filling. Now the doughnuts head into the proofing cabinet to rise. Typically yeast doughnuts need about three hours to rise, which is why bakers start their shift overnight. But the timing can change based on a few factors, like the weather that day. In the winter, Peter Pan’s Donuts can take up to 4 1/2 hours to rise, but when it’s hot or humid, it’s much less than that.
Donna: Summertime, with the humidity, I mean, you don’t even have to put them in the proof box. You know, as you’re cutting them and leaving them on the rack, they’re proofing.
Taryn: About 35 doughnuts fry until they turn golden brown, about a minute on each side. Yeast doughnuts head directly to the glazing station, but cake doughnuts need to cool for a few minutes. Otherwise, they’ll break apart. Bakers line up 10 doughnuts on a long rod and submerge them into a thick honey glaze. They hang the rod on two metal hooks because…
Donna: If you just leave it flat, it sort of sits on the top and it’s too sweet. This way it really runs off the whole doughnut.
Taryn: There’s blueberry buttermilk, sourdough, and the shop’s best sellers, honey-dipped and red velvet cake flavors. I don’t think you can come here and not get a glazed doughnut. It’s just, like, your classic, go-to doughnut, not too much going on, simple, airy, but yet filling, and glazed, like, just as well as all the others. That glaze is everything. That’s the best part of this doughnut. To be real. To be honest. The red velvet’s good. I love red velvet flavoring. But the glaze is, like, such an even coat, and thin. It looks like they’re soaking the glaze onto each doughnut, but it’s actually just, like, a thin coating that dries perfectly on top, and it spreads so well throughout. Both the classics and the new varieties have drawn in tourists, celebrity customers, and movie crews over the last 70 years, but it’s the faithful locals that keep the shop so busy.
Customer: I’ve been in the neighborhood for eight years. I have breakfast here three times a week at least.
Customer: This doughnut is just so good. It is not just for the police. It’s for the mail lady.
Taryn: Thank you guys for watching “Legendary Eats.” We have more great episodes coming, so please subscribe, and if there’s any places that you would like us to cover, then let us know. That’s a wrap.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2020.
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