Courtney Bonning has a knack for baking. As the former owner of Ohio City’s Bonbon Pastry and Cafe, the 37-year-old satisfied our sweet tooth with lemon tarts, sugary cupcakes and peanut-butter-and-jelly cookies. After five years in business, Bonning closed the popular spot in January to start a bakery incubator. But before the dough could rise on that idea, she’s back in Ohio City to open Bigmouth Donut Co. Her doughnut shop includes made-from-scratch cake and yeast options using local ingredients for her rotating list of 12 doughnut flavors, such as blueberry cake, chocolate-covered strawberry and mojito. “It’s fried cake and it’s delicious,” says Bonning. “We’re not trying to be edgy; we’re just trying to make the best down-home product.” Before her Hingetown spot opens at the end of the month, we talked to Bonning about her first doughnut, flavor inspiration and more.
Why did you want to dive into doughnuts?
Honestly? I like working first shift! That is super-duper first shift, like up and in at 3 o’clock in the morning, which is very me. You can play with flavors and utilize your skills that you have in making other things — skills in making the fillings, jams and jellies. And it is all applicable in this cool little doughnut shape. You can constantly switch up flavors and your techniques with the seasons.
What was your first memory of eating a doughnut?
I was the jerky kid that stuck their finger in the jelly-filled doughnut to get the jelly out. That’s my first doughnut memory. I’ve been making doughnuts for more than 10 years, and they’re still exciting to watch in the fryer.
What are some fun flavors to look out for?
We’re going to have a yeast Berliner doughnut. It’s a light, flavorful doughnut that can marry a lot of flavors. It’s the same kind of dough you would see in a paczki. We are also going to have something called a “dosant.” It is Cleveland’s answer to a Cronut. My brother has been bugging me for it for years! They will be similar to the Cronut without having to pay the New York prices.
How do you think Bigmouth will fit into the Hingetown neighborhood?
The neighborhood isn’t just super healthy and high-end. I think it now represents all tastes. You can go and get a pizza and a beer, get the best coffee, the best tea, best vegan sandwich and cold-pressed juice, and I think [Bigmouth] balances the offerings. We’re scratch-made so we fit in in that respect, but we’re kind of junk food.