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Local Food Matters

by Mary Rosewood

I’m so happy to be writing again about the creative and hardworking food producers in Livingston and throughout Montana!

And what a delicious treat to begin with: Daisy Donuts.

If you’ve tasted Pam van Giessen’s apple cider cake doughnuts, you know how lucky we are in Livingston to have these fresh from her kitchen.

When Pam moved to Livingston from Chicago in 2018, she had fond memories of walking with her dog Daisy and picking up apple cider doughnuts from her favorite bakery. So she set out to find the perfect recipe. Because “baking is a science,” Pam explained, it turns out that all sorts of things affect the outcome, like the weather and, surprisingly, the sugar.

After spending most of her career in the publishing industry, Pam finds many lessons in being an entrepreneur. “I’ve learned to accept imperfection. I’ve learned to accept failure. No one wants to fail, but if your best isn’t what you want, that’s okay. It just means you try harder. The scariest thing is you’re doing it on your own. You don’t have someone else saying, well, hey, you should have used another brand of brown sugar. You have to figure that out yourself.”

Pam’s doughnut repertoire includes regular and vegan versions, which are hard to tell

apart. From a careful taste test of several samples (I will never skimp on bringing you my honest opinion of the food I write about), I can say that either way, you’re going to be happy.

The big surprise is that Daisy Donuts are baked, not fried. I’m a doughnut lover from way back, and I’ve had some disappointing experiences with baked doughnuts. But Daisy Donuts do not disappoint. And Pam truly captures the apple cider flavor.

Because she first looks locally for ingredients, Pam is searching for a reliable source of madein-Montana apple cider. In the meantime, she buys the store brand at Town & Country in Livingston. When I spoke with Pam, she had recently made 60 dozen doughnuts and 100 bags of doughnut holes for a customer, using about 6 gallons of cider.

Traditional cinnamon and powdered sugar toppings are available year round. Each season brings Pam new ideas for the iced doughnuts: huckleberries, chokecherries, even Dixon melons. When fruit is abundant, she makes juice and freezes it for cold-weather baking. Her flavor concoctions are intriguing: huckleberry-chai, strawberrychamomile, London Fog (Earl Grey tea steeped with lavender and vanilla added).

“The whole goal is to make these apple cider cake doughnuts, which are a back East sort of thing, as Montana as possible and support Montana businesses,” Pam said.

She has a handy tip to keep a supply of doughnuts on hand: wrap them (the sugar-coated ones work best) in plastic wrap, then wrap in aluminum foil, then place them

in the freezer. After removing the plastic wrap, defrost them on a rack. Pam said some folks freeze them to take camping.

If you haven’t tasted Daisy Donuts yet — or if you want more — hurry to Paradise Perk (1106 W. Park, near Kenyon Noble) or Tru North Cafe (104 N. Main), or go online to to order for local pickup. You can also find Daisy Donuts at the Treeline Coffee cafes in Bozeman. This summer, look for Pam at local farmers markets, too.

Pam enjoys making special orders, like children’s birthday parties, a grand opening, and the upcoming celebration of Independent Bookstore Day at Wheatgrass Books.

See Pam’s current creations on Instagram @daisydonutsmontana.


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