Tofu does not immediately come to mind when considering the long list of doughnut possibilities in Los Angeles.
L.A. is home to doughnuts strewn with maple bacon, stuffed with fresh strawberries and cross-bred with a croissant. You can find doughnuts made to order to accommodate vegan and gluten-free predilections. There's a fun savory one inspired by the Dr. Seuss classic Green Eggs and Ham at Sidecar Doughnuts' Santa Monica location. And since Ring Baked Tofu Donuts opened earlier this January, L.A. is now home to a baked tofu doughnut.
What is a tofu doughnut? It's made with equal parts silken tofu and rice flour in place of wheat flour, according to Ring Baked Tofu Donuts co-owner Mitsutaka Kagei. About six years ago, a mom-and-pop tofu company in Japan developed the tofu doughnut, which caught the attention of the Japanese media. Soon other companies followed suit. Unlike many of those found on the other side of the Pacific, though, the tofu doughnuts at Ring are baked and not fried, Kagei says.
The uninitiated might have reservations about this doughnut. It will remind you more of a cake. The ones at Ring are dense but not leaden. None of them are cloyingly sweet, and the flavors are subtle.
Kagei and co-owner/baker (and his fiancé) Aya Maeda, who trained in pastry arts at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, often tinker with their recipes. One constant is good-quality tofu. They've been sourcing it from Meiji Tofu in Gardena. By using smaller-batch tofu and rice flour (from Koda Farms), they've noticed a big improvement in texture. Their recipes also call for eggs, fat-free Greek yogurt, sugar, raw honey and butter — all of which are either local, organic or both.
On any given day, you can order shop standards like matcha green tea, honey, red velvet, maple bacon, Earl Grey and double chocolate. There are seasonal, sometimes weekly, specials in the form of pumpkin spice, poppy seed and apricot. A vegan banana one is available, too.
They also serve sea-salt iced coffee, sea-salt iced matcha green tea, Calpico and yuzunade (a citrus drink made with yuzu in lieu of lemon).
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Kagei and Maeda run the Woodland Hills shop with help from his sister, Mika Kagei. They offer free local delivery for a one-dozen order within 10 miles of Hollywood and a three-dozen order within 20 miles.
Ring Baked Tofu Donuts, 6800 Owensmouth Ave., Woodland Hills. (323) 963-3881, ringdonuts.com.