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Kane's Coffee Roll [Photograph: Kate Shannon]

If you grew up in New England, a coffee roll needs no explanation. But to my Midwestern mind, this regional staple defies definition. The best I can do is say that it's what would happen if a cinnamon roll, an apple cider donut, and a coffee cake had a baby. An enormous, super sugary baby.

The coffee roll at Kane's Donuts ($8) is a basic yeasted dough that's given a generous coating of cinnamon-sugar and rolled up tight. After it's fried, it's covered with a 1/4-inch layer of frosting with a whole lot more cinnamon and sugar. (You could get the glazed version, but I don't know why you would.) All that frosting makes for a great play in texture. The top develops just the hint of a crust that cracks easily and gives way to a donut that's light, airy, and swirled with cinnamon. On the bottom, there's that deliciously crunchy cross-hatched pattern that hot donuts always acquire after resting on a cooling rack. The whole thing is the size of the hubcap. And really, isn't that what we all want in a donut?

Kane's Donuts

120 Lincoln Ave., Saugus, MA 01906 (map)
(781) 233-8499; www.kanesdonuts.com

About the author: Kate Shannon is a cheesemonger and former line cook. Although she calls Boston home, she hasn't lost her love for the fried cheese curds and Chicago-style hotdogs of the Midwest. She believes that leftover Thai takeout makes the best lunches and that strawberry shortcake is meant to be breakfast, not dessert.

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