The Accidental Doughnut Shop
Orlando has a doughnut craze with one catch, their Vegan.
3 minute read
I've been following Celine, owner of Valhalla Bakery, since she was slinging cupcakes and other baked gems at local markets and food truck rallies. I followed her loyally as I do with anyone who has a knack for something that brings sheer unadulterated joy both to my stomach and soul from their creations and their magnetic endearing personality.
I interviewed Celine almost exactly a year ago when Market on South was still a work in progress and she was still making custom cakes and hauling her goods all over Orlando. Now I wait in line with several other Orlando locals to buy something she actually never intended to make: Doughnuts.
"I never had plans to make doughnuts, but my customers started asking for them so I decided to find a doughnut recipe and turn it into a vegan recipe and began to test it," Celine explained.
For anyone who is not a vegan, like myself, who wonders what is and isn't in a vegan doughnut, it's egg-free and dairy-free. While all doughnuts are vegan (none are or will ever be gluten free) Celine believes that eighty to ninety percent of the customers lining up for these treats are not vegan themselves.
Vegan or not, the response to her doughnuts has taken her by surprise. Pictures of her made-from-scratch squared treats garner hundreds of likes on Instagram posts with many comments from fans giddy with excitement or those still dying to get their hands on one.
"Mind blowing is a good term to use when thinking about the response to the doughnuts. I'm blown away," she stated.
She now has a four person doughnut crew, who to meet the weekend demand wake up as early as 1:30 am. Some customers may wonder why she doesn't just make more?
"We'd love to make more, but as an accidental doughnut shop we are working under a lot of constraints. Our fryer can only hold six doughnuts at a time, so there is a dedicated person who is just frying a half-dozen at a time all morning long. We also share the kitchen with Dixie Dharma, so our work has to be done before they start their kitchen prep. Not to mention we still have the other items we make along with cake orders to fulfill so there is a lot going on in the kitchen at all times."
The Doughnut Crew cranks out around 150 doughnuts during the week, and anywhere from 300 to 400 for the weekend where they have been selling out sometimes in under an hour.
I've personally stood in line and waited my turn to select a few tantalizing flavors while some people leave with boxes by the dozen. This excitement and demand has all led to some much needed traffic control of her goods.
"We can no longer do holds because we just don't believe it's fair to the people that are waking up early and waiting in line. We want to be loyal to those people. We also love seeing people come in and buy dozens at a time, but we'd love if those people could give us a heads up. If we know dozens are going to walk out with one customer we can make plans to try and make more that day."
Despite lines and a few people slowly hemming and hawing as they make their selections, everyone is polite and accommodating to their fellow doughnut lovers.
"The perfect example of this was when two girls were still in line and there was only two doughnuts left. The first girl didn't buy the last two so the other girl could get a doughnut as well. On top of that they had a discussion on which of the remaining flavors they each preferred. I really appreciate the courtesy I see in our customers. I think they realize they are all a part of something exciting that is just in the beginning stages."
The longest line Celine has seen was about 35 people deep first thing in the morning, and the customer who has traveled from the furthest place was a couple from Ohio, who as they landed for their vacation in Orlando, headed first to grab doughnuts straight from the airport.
Her current brush with celebrity happened last week when rapper and vegan Waka Flocka was in town for a show and had his crew pick up some doughnuts. He then uploaded a video to social media, which definitely gives her doughnuts some extra street cred.
It's clear that a lot of work and passion is going into these doughnuts along with the toppings, fillings, and glazes which are made from scratch.
The flavors are exceptional and constantly changing. Strawbery jalapeño, Dr. Pepper, French toast, and matcha chocolate just to name a few are constantly reeling people in. My current favorite is the pistachio rosewater, but the best seller among locals remains Fruity Pebbles.
"We want to keep things exciting and interesting not just for our customers but for ourselves as we make them. Coming up with new flavors continues to let us be creative and keeps us from getting bored."
If you haven't had a chance to try Celine's doughnuts she recommends arriving by 8:15 am Monday through Saturday and by 11:15 am on Sunday at the Market on South. Also if you really want to show your love bring her Coke Zero or Monster Ultra Zero.
So until a full-fledged doughnut shop opens, keep it classy in that doughnut line Orlando.
Market on South - 2603 E South St, Orlando, FL 32803