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DOUGHNUT DAY: Four Seasons Senior Center sells dozens and dozens of old-fashioned doughnuts

ROSEAU, Minn. -- With a turn of the crank, Darrel Erickson drops batter into the fryer, counting as each round doughnut plops into the sizzling lard.

ROSEAU, Minn. -- With a turn of the crank, Darrel Erickson drops batter into the fryer, counting as each round doughnut plops into the sizzling lard.

When Erickson reaches No. 24, he quickly steps aside and doughnut fryers Arlene Carlson and Bev Dahl take over.

It's evident that after 20 years of doughnut making the crew at the Four Seasons Senior Center in Roseau, operate like a well-oiled machine.

"We have a system," says Violet Sunsten, 89, whose job is placing cooled doughnuts in plastic bags.

On the second and fourth Mondays of every month about 10 members of the Four Seasons senior citizens organization make 100 dozen doughnuts. Four "turners," four "coolers," a "mixer" and a "dropper," make up the doughnut crew.


The volunteers sell the doughnuts for $3 a dozen as a fundraiser for the non-profit senior organization, making sales both on pre-orders and walk-ins.

Some walk-in customers can't resist buying doughnuts when they come to the senior center for coffee. Other customers are drawn into the center when they are walking by and catch a whiff of the doughnuts.

By the dozens

The Four Seasons Senior Center doughnut makers also take special orders from area businesses. Once, for example, they made 200 dozen doughnuts for a local company. That project took two days to complete.

On regular doughnut days volunteers arrive at 6 a.m. to start mixing the ingredients. The grocery order on doughnut day includes six and a half gallons of buttermilk, 15 dozen eggs and 10 pints of whipping cream, besides staples such as flour and sugar.

Doughnut making begins at about 7:30 a.m. By early afternoon, 100 dozen plastic bags of doughnuts are lined up on tables or piled neatly in grocery bags, ready to be picked up.

Over the years, the doughnut making has become more high-tech, members say. When they started, for example, they dropped doughnuts with a hand-held dropper. Now, they have a large industrial model machine that is mounted on the wall.

Erickson can drop 24 doughnuts in a matter of seconds and they're ready to come out of the fryer in a few minutes. Before, they had to make the doughnuts in a kettle.


Old-fashioned goodness

One thing that's not modern is the doughnut recipe. The volunteers use an old tried-and-true recipe that has been around longer than the seniors at the center.

"We found a good recipe and we stuck with it," says Arlene Carlson. They make the doughnuts a batch at a time, each one yielding about four dozen. The doughnuts, with a hint of nutmeg, are light and flavorful. Lois Lossee and Margaret Ecklund don't claim to know any secrets to making great-tasting doughnuts, but they do know when the cakes are done just so, and are ready to remove from the fryer before they soak up grease.

"You can kind of tell on the edge when they're brown," Eklund says. Like any good cooks, the doughnut-making volunteers take pride in turning out a tasty product. Though technically cake doughnuts, senior center members like Carlson, 78, are quick to tell you they're nothing like commercial doughnuts.

"I think it's a disgrace to call them cake doughnuts," she says. "I call them old-fashioned doughnuts."

For Sunsten and Beatrice Hammer, 84, filling bags on doughnut days also is a chance for a good visit.

"It's a fun job," Hammer says.

"We enjoy it," says Sunsten.


Members of the Four Seasons Senior Center, 114 Center Street, Roseau, take orders for doughnuts. Contact center director Deb Ruud at (218) 463-1331 for information or to place an order.

Ann Bailey is Recollections editor. Reach her by phone at (701) 787-6753, (800) 477-6572, ext. 753 or e-mail her at abailey@gfherald.com

Four Seasons Senior Center Doughnut Recipe


6 eggs

2 cups sugar

3/4 cup cream

1 1/4 cups buttermilk


5 1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Mix ingredients and put in doughnut dropper. Drop into lard heated to 400 degrees. Turn doughnuts during frying. Remove from fryer when edges turn brown.

Yield: Four dozen doughnuts.

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