Not long after, on a Saturday morning shopping trip to our local supermarket in the western suburb of St Albans, I discovered Schmidt’s Continental Cake Shop. In the window was what looked like a doughnut, but the shelf tag referred to it as a “Jam Berliner”.
I overcame my usual childhood fear of new foods and gave one a shot. Heaven! There was something about the way they were made that took these doughnuts to new heights.
Throughout my primary school years my doughnut delirium barely subsided. This was not helped by the fact that I became part of the bin monitor group in grade six. This entailed collecting all the bins in the playground and emptying their contents into the school ‘burner’. (Every school had an incinerator back then. There was no thought of sorting or recycling. Chuck it all in and light that fire!)
Collecting the bin from the back of the school tuckshop was the highlight. Quite often there’d be an entire six-pack box of unsold Jiffy Donuts next to the bin. What a post-lunch dessert bonanza that was!
Cementing my primary school obsession was a book titled Homer Price, a collection of stories about a boy named Homer (who came long before Homer Simpson). It says something about me that the only story I can recall relates to his Uncle Ulysses’ automatic doughnut machine.
As I got older my other primary school loves – Matchbox cars, footy cards – waned, but my love for the great golden sugar ball remains as strong today as ever. In footy season, when the Bulldogs win, a shared post-game bag of hot jam doughnuts caps things off beautifully.
Luckily, in my inner northern neighbourhood there are several cafes and bakeries that make doughnuts as good as those made by the Schmidts all those years ago. The ones from Mitte in Fitzroy North are very jam Berliner-y and the jam bomboloni at Cavallini are to die for.
In fact, they might even be to die from, if I’m not careful. Because, while Victoria’s doughnut days are seemingly over, my own doughnut days show no signs of ending.