Did the Isle of Wight Invent the Doughnut?

Our little Bird Nests
Our little Birds Nests

The truth is we can’t really be sure, but there is an interesting story behind the claim! The doughnut, as we know it today, is of Dutch origin; stemming from ‘olykoeks’ or ‘Oil Cakes’.  Originally these oil cakes were just that – balls of cake dipped in oil and fried until golden brown. However, the centre didn’t quite cook as fast, leaving a doughy middle. To solve this, the Dutch filled the cake with fruits, nuts or other things that didn’t require cooking. These olykoeks quickly became popular in America and across Europe, where they began to transform into many different varieties. Meanwhile, however, the Isle of Wight was developing its own doughnut, independent from the Dutch creation. Whether this was happening before or after the invention of Olykoeks is so far unknown. The Isle of Wight Doughnuts are different from their Dutch and modern counterparts in that they aren’t actually filled in the centre. Locally known as ‘Birds Nests’, the Isle of Wight Doughnuts tend to have currents, candied peels or plums mixed in. We’ve chosen to recreate our ‘Birds Nests’ using currents, mixed fruit peels and a variety of spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon.

If you would like to know more about Isle of Wight doughnuts, tune into BBC Radio 4 on the 16th of August at 10:30am. Our ‘Birds Nests’ are going to be featured on the Gardener’s Question Time and The Kitchen Cabinet show, hosted at Northwood House. So, what are you waiting for? Taste a little bit of Island history!