Janzen enjoys being local ‘Doughnut Man’

Dan Janzen, known by some of his fans as the “doughnut man,” makes fresh doughnuts in the wee hours of the night while most of his customers are fast asleep in their beds.

“Running this bakery is a one-man show,” Janzen said.

Janzen arrives for work at his Daylight Donut shop between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., Monday through Friday, and works alone making doughnuts in the back back room while a rock-and-roll-oldies radio station keeps him company until 6:30 a.m. the next day.

“This is kind of a respite for me,” Janzen said. “I like working alone.”

The store, with a seating capacity of 40, is open from 5:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., Tuesday through Saturday and is located at 111 W. Grand in Hillsboro.

Janzen rescued the vacant doughnut shop two and a half years ago. He purchased it after the previous owners closed it six to eight months before selling it to Janzen.

“There was absolutely no ‘blue sky,'” Janzen said. “It was just inventory, and I rent the building. I also have a business background, and I like a challenge.”

Viola Lohrentz, his only employee, has worked behind the counter for two months. She comes in at 6:30 a.m. and sells the doughnuts Janzen made through the night.

The menu reads like a pastry-lover’s dream: raised doughnuts, cake doughnuts, long johns, buttermilk sticks and turnovers. The turnover fruit fillings change every day and vary from the traditional cherry and strawberry to date and bavarian cream.

Also on the menu are donut holes, pine cones, nut rolls, apple fritters and peanut-honey buns.

The peanut-honey buns are a specialty created by Janzen.

“When I started here, my son wanted me to try a pastry he had once eaten somewhere,” Janzen said. “So I came up with our peanut-honey buns. They’re coated with homemade vanilla frosting with peanut butter whipped into it. I dip the roll in the peanut butter icing, and then I put a chocolate swirl on it.”

The prices of the raised and cake doughnuts are 42 cents each. Pine cones are the most expensive pastry at 94 cents.

A hot item on the menu is biscuits and peppered cream gravy. A small order is $1.50 and a large is $2.20.

“My prices are not the cheapest you’ll find, but I do make sure my portions are generous,” Janzen said.

The staples of his trade are rising flour, cake flour, dusting flour, powdered sugar, vegetable shortening, frosting and cinnamon.

“One thing I like about the bakery is every day is complete unto itself,” Janzen said.

Each night, Janzen turns on the lights, the fryer and the proofer, cleans his work area, filters the grease, cleans out the fryer, puts the grease back in the fryer, and fills the bins with flour and powdered sugar.

The process of making a finished product takes a lot of time and skill, Janzen said.

It takes three hours to complete one “dough” from the time he combines his yeast, tempered water and flour, to the finished product.

One “dough” uses 15 pounds of rising flour, 12 pounds of tempered water and 3/4 cup of dry yeast. On a typical Friday night, Janzen will make three “doughs” for Saturday, his busiest day.

“For a raised product, the temperature of the flour and the temperature of the water need to total 175 degrees. If the water’s too hot, it will kill the yeast, and if it’s too cold the rise is slow,” Janzen said.

“I mix the dough, turn it out onto the dough table and set the timer,” he said. “I leave it alone while it rises for 45 minutes.”

While this first dough is rising, Janzen makes his cake products-cake doughnuts and buttermilk sticks-using cake flour. These are the first doughnuts made in the evening because they don’t have to rise and are fried at a lower temperature of 300 degrees.

“Then I sift the flour over the dough table and dump the bucket of raised dough, which weighs about 30 pounds,” Janzen said. “I’ll knead it, fold it and knead it, for a total of five times.”

Janzen rolls the kneaded dough to a width of 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch for the correct thickness of the desired donut.

“This is the first cut,” Janzen said. “On this cut I do the lightest products, such as doughnuts, honey buns and twists.”

A hand-held rolling cutter is used to make the round doughnuts, and the doughnut holes are saved to be sold in quantities of one dozen to a bag.

The doughnuts are separated and put on a screen to sit in a proofer.

“There’s a light in the proofer that keeps the temperature about 100 degrees, and that’s the last rise before it’s fried at 375 degrees,” Janzen said.

While the first-cut doughnuts are in the proofer, Janzen takes any remaining dough from the dough table and forms another ball to sit for 10 minutes.

“That ball of dough is my second cut,” he said. “Out of that I get long johns, turnovers, pine cones and bear claws because they all need to be a firmer dough.”

The third cut is used for the heavier pastries such as apple fritters. It goes into a container, and Janzen doesn’t make it into finished pastry until later in the morning

“I let that third cut ‘proof out’ because I’m trying to outdistance my yeast,” Janzen said.

When Janzen is finished with a dough, the table is empty.

“I don’t waste anything,” he said. “An hour and a half later, when I’m done, that 30 pound ball of dough-there’s nothing left.”

Daylight Corp. mandates Janzen must buy his flour from them but does not charge a franchise fee.

An international group, Daylight Corp. has been based out of Tulsa, Okla., since 1954. A Daylight representative spent four nights training Janzen in his shop.

“Four months after I had been in business, he put me through my own little doughnut school and taught me the Daylight system,” Janzen said.

Janzen’s office, where he does his daily bookkeeping, is in the back room.

In addition to his bakery, he is a partner in a local lawn sprinkler business and is a registered nurse.

He married his wife, Susan, in 1973 when he was at Tabor College. They have three children. The oldest, Jimmy, is a fifth year senior at Tabor; daughter, Sara, is a sophomore at Tabor; and youngest son, Jessie, is a senior at HHS.

“Jimmy will stop by when I’m in production, and he’ll get some fresh pastry,” Janzen said. “There’s nothing like a fresh, warm doughnut.”

Janzen makes deliveries to two wholesale accounts, Ampride in Hillsboro and Coastal in Peabody.

Regular customers who want custom orders need to call at least one day in advance to be guaranteed, Janzen said.

“This morning I had an order for six-dozen doughnuts,” he said.”The largest custom order I’ve ever had was for 30 dozen.”

The Hillsboro Arts & Crafts fair is his biggest day of the year.

“That’s a burnout,” Janzen said. “I usually start at 5 p.m. the day before, and I make pastry until the day’s over, or I fall down.”

Janzen also sells his yeast to some of the local bakers in the community.

“There’s a lot of bakers in this town I respect pretty highly who use my yeast in their zwieback and bierrocks,” he said. “So my opinion of it’s high quality is verified by the Mennonite women who use it as well.”

Future plans include the possibility of expanding into outlying areas.

“I’d still like to expand into Marion and downtown Peabody with a convenience store or a restaurant,” Janzen said.

His repeat customers amount to about 80 percent of his clientele, Janzen said.

“I had this shop for a few months, and we were walking into church a little late, and it was kind of quiet in the congregation,” he said. “A little girl about two rows back said, ‘Look, Daddy, it’s the doughnut man.'”

Two other fans of the Daylight Donut shop are regular customers Robert Jantz and Walt Thiessen.

Jantz said: “I like the convenience of it. It’s right across the street from where I work. It’s a good product, and it’s not greasy.”

Thiessen said he likes the cake doughnuts.

“Sometimes I’ll pick up a couple dozen doughnuts at 6:30 a.m. and take them into work at the Wichita Child Guidance Center,” he said.

Janzen said he strives to keep a quality product.

“I like it to be light without any greasy residue,” he said. “I try to use whatever tricks and talents I have to get to a point where I’m consistent and have as high quality as possible-I practice every night.”

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