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Red velvet donuts and apple fritters at Somethin' Sweet Donuts

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Chicago has several good doughnut shops, but it seems the Hungry Hound has sniffed out yet another good one. (WLS)

Chicago has several good doughnut shops, but it seems the Hungry Hound has sniffed out yet another good one, this time in the Cragin neighborhood on the city's Northwest Side.

It's a family-run operation led by a man who has been forming dough, drying it to perfection and then glazing it for more than 30 years.

Jim Chao started baking in the early 80s. But he and his family moved their business - Somethin' Sweet Donuts - to the Northwest Side several years ago, offering both cakey and yeast-raised versions.

"I don't do anything super different, the original classic donuts. But I change some things here and there. Like the lemon, that is my own recipe," Chao said.

Even more impressive, his red velvet, which came in second at last year's Donut Fest. He makes his dough, knowing exactly how much water to add to get them to the proper consistency. Then he pours it into a hand-cranked donut maker, and gets to work over a vat of hot oil. Using long, wooden dowels, he flips them when ready, then removes them a minute later. While still warm, they get a complete waterfall of sugar glaze, which seeps into the pores. Try to get them still warm if you can.

Apple fritters are also popular. Chao works the apple-cinnamon mixture into the dough, then forms them into shape and lets them proof a bit. An hour or so later, they're ready for the fryer. Same process: flipping the removing, then glazing like crazy. Again, warm and fresh is best. He makes about a thousand donuts a day, saying the neighborhood prefers the cakey ones to the yeast-raised. But like any bakery, there are two important keys to success.

"I think the key is the dough number one and number two is the temperature, when it comes to bake the temperature is very important," Chao said.

"Now of course every donut maker has their specialty and when you come to Somethin' Sweet you gotta try some of the yeast, some of the cake, an apple fritter possibly but do not leave without trying the red velvet. And try to get them fresh out of the fryer.

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In his Extra Course, Steve talks about a great Mexican restaurant right next door to the bakery.



In his Extra Course, Steve talks about a great Mexican restaurant right next door to the bakery, in case you're looking for somewhere else to eat nearby.

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foodhungry hounddonutsCraginChicago
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