Pablo Neruda, Blood Oranges, and Sour Cream Donuts

Pablo Neruda knows a little something about love. Entire volumes of his poetry are dedicated to the subject, and I have to ask, does it get any better than this?

“But I love your feet
only because they walked
upon the earth and upon
the wind and upon the waters,
until they found me.”
Pablo Neruda

In ancient Greece, odes were accompanied by music and dance, but the romantics utilized the form in a way its most recognizable today, as a tool to meditate on a singular event, person, or object. Odes are not explicitly love poems, but they do require the careful reflection and observation of one thing at a time. Especially the odes about food, I would say Neruda is utterly enamored with the ingredient he's writing about.

In accepting the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971, he declared that "We [writers from the vast expanse of America] are called upon to fill with words the confines of a mute continent, and we become drunk with the task of telling and naming." Neruda's odes accomplished this task of 'telling and naming' with great beauty and grace on the page. Just bite into these lines from "Ode to an Orange."

from Ode to the Orange

by Pablo Neruda

are united
within your rind
like segments of a single fruit.
Chile, lying the length of your side,
and inflamed
the Pacific's
blue foliage,
is a long haven for orange trees.

Give us
this day
orange daylight,
and every day,
and may mankind's heart,
and its clusters of fruit,
be both bitter and sweet:
irrepressible source of freshness,
may it hold and protect
the earth's
and the perfect oneness
of an orange.

Now, you may have read Sarah's recent post about the winter fruit. If not, you should head over immediately to read it. She offered several literary references to oranges, and I decided to poach the lines from Pablo Neruda and reproduce them here before the season ended. And it's ending soon, so if you haven't picked up any blood oranges from your farmer's market yet, there's no time to waste.

I've been having a little love affair of my own with blood oranges this winter, and I hope you've been able to do the same. I've made sorbet, salad dressing, used fresh juice in my morning smoothies, and, on a whim based on a sly comment from my husband before we got out of bed on Saturday morning, this irresistible glaze.

If you know anything about me and my style of cooking, I'm not the kind of girl who craves sugar and dough in the morning. Instead, I prefer to indulge with a pan of scrambled eggs with greens and a good amount of red pepper flakes. But since my husband likes a little something fried now and again, I make donuts every once in a while, usually spotaneously. These are a little bit crisp on the outside, and a little bit soft in the middle. Once the glaze has dried, it crunches softly with each bite. I've been told they pair spectacularly with coffee.

One other note about blood oranges. Many of you enjoyed the pictures I posted on Facebook of my new find. Over the weekend I attended an Etsy Pop-Up Shop event at my local West Elm store, where several Los Angeles artists and designers were selling their products, including Krank Press. I picked up an adorable letterpress produce calendar that I've just hung in the kitchen. Check out her other regional calendars -- I know you'll love them!


The thickness of the glaze is up to you. I wanted to coat my donuts completely, so I added a tablespoon of water to thin it a bit, an dipped them 2-3 times. If you prefer a thicker glaze to cover the top only, start by adding half the blood orange juice, then increase it slowly until your desired thickness is reached. Also, sift, sift, sift! There's nothing worse than a lumpy frosting, and in this scenario, whisking just won't cut it.

Recipe adapted from

Makes about 10 donuts and donut holes

2 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting the cutting board
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 egg yolks
2/3 cup sour cream
Oil for frying

For the glaze
2 cups powdered sugar
Zest from 1 blood orange
1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice

Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and butter on low speed until crumbly, about 1 minute. Mix in the sour cream, then slowly stir in the dry ingredients. Cover the dough and chill for 30 minutes.

Now is a good time to make the glaze. Sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl, then slowly add the zest and juice, stirring as you go, until the desired thickness is reached.

Heat a cast iron pot with 2 inches of oil to approximately 350 degrees. While the oil heats, roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to 1/2-inch thick. Cut out circles with a biscuit cutter, then gently knead the rest of the dough together and cut the remaining donuts.

To fry the donuts, add as many as will fit into the pan without touching. Once they float to the top, flip them and fry for 15 seconds, then flip them again and fry for about 1 minute, or until golden brown and a bit cracked. Transfer the donuts to a paper towel-lined cooling rack, and let cool for a minute before glazing.