When a plump, cinnamon sugar-crusted doughnut with a caramel cream filling flitted across my screen, practically shimmering in every post I scrolled by on Instagram, I knew I had to try one. Immediately. The thing is, though, getting a coveted doughnut from Osono Bread isn’t as simple as pulling up a to shop or placing an order online: you can only purchase them on Sundays at the Grant Park Farmers Market.
A cottage bakery, Osono Bread is a one-woman shop owned by Betsy Gonzalez. She first captured the attention of Atlantans with her sourdough bread when she offered a subscription service. The art of sourdough is something she began studying in 2017 (long before it was a pandemic trend) with various bakers around Europe. Today, she works with local and regional mills like Day Spring Farm in Danielsville, Georgia, and Carolina Ground in Asheville to make myriad loaves including milk bread, polenta, and whole spelt.
Gonzalez’s loaves looked hearty and delicious, but it was the doughnuts that got me down to Eventide Brewing, where the farmers market convenes, one recent Sunday morning. Toddler in tow, I arrived a few minutes after the market opened at 9 a.m., as I’d heard how quickly Osono’s doughnuts tend to sell out.
“Excuse me, are you at the end of the line?” I asked a woman who responded with a point across the Eventide parking lot where the line formed a horseshoe around the perimeter. I only lasted about 15 minutes in the queue before my daughter let me know that we had been there long enough.
I didn’t take any chances on my second attempt, this time arriving about 20 minutes before the market opened. I claimed my space in line—second—and chatted (in that pandemic-friendly, masked-up, spaced-out kind of way) with the person in front of me. “They’re totally worth the wait,” said Emily Andress, a Druid Hills resident that makes the trek almost every Sunday. Her eyes twinkling over her mask, she told me how she doesn’t mind waiting but prefers to get there early when the crowd is lighter. “Definitely get the horchata doughnut, it’s her signature.” Andress also noted that the doughnuts hold up well for a couple of days—and that I might as well get a loaf of the honey olive while I was there.
The doughnuts were never meant to become a thing. Gonzalez first made them on a whim in January as a celebratory birthday treat and sold a batch at the market. “I had never done doughnuts before, nor had I ever fried anything. I was just in disbelief that it quickly unfolded that way,” Osono told me later. People started asking if the doughnuts could become a regular item, and by February, her line was growing. “Well, I guess we’re going to start doing doughnuts now on a weekly basis,” she recalls with a laugh.
Gonzalez approaches her doughnuts the same way she does her breads. Using a combination of locally-sourced flours, she makes a brioche-like base with sourdough starter and “a smidge of yeast” to ramp up the activity. In total, they proof for about 18 hours. “Then I start frying them around midnight on Sunday,” she says. “It’s very much of a process, and I love it. I think it’s great.”
She sells two types of doughnuts: filled and glazed rings. Some of the fillings and glazes change seasonally (right now you’ll likely find a Georgia strawberry glaze, for example), but the horchata cream is her signature.
Gonzalez is a first-generation American born to Guatemalan and Mexican parents, and says she finds that all too often, non-white chefs are pigeonholed into only making foods representative of their heritage. “I [thought I] should go about this in a way that feels right for me, because I’ve had the experience of being an American, but also Latina,” she explains. To Gonzalez, American meant fried doughnuts, and horchata, a rice milk beverage spiced with cinnamon, lent itself nicely to the filling. “It’s very much like a vanilla bean filling, but it has this lovely twist with the toasted rice and cinnamon. I figured, why stop at vanilla when I can be a little more special and have meaning to my background,” she says.
Gonzalez says she isn’t sure why people are so drawn to her doughnuts. “I’m still in disbelief by the response for sure. I don’t even know how to put into words for an explanation as to why it’s happening,” she says.
I left the farmers market victorious with five doughnuts (and yes, a loaf of bread) and walked past the line, now 30 people deep, with that fresh doughnut swagger. Horchata might be the star, but I went straight for the lemon curd. Light with a chew, the dough is tangy and not all that sweet, making it an excellent canvas for the sweet-sour lemon curd. In the case of Osono Bread’s doughnuts, reality is better than Instagram.