Gadabout Doughnuts (Feature)

New Gadabout Doughnuts pop-up shop delivers artisan donuts to city events

click to enlarge Karina Rice bakes artisan donuts for her traveling pop-up, Gadabout Doughnuts.
Karina Rice bakes artisan donuts for her traveling pop-up, Gadabout Doughnuts.

Cincinnati is filled with artisan bakers, so what’s one more? At Oakley Fancy Flea Market (O.F.F. Market) on May 30, Karina Rice debuted her handcrafted donuts under the moniker Gadabout Doughnuts, a term meaning “a person who flits about in social activity.” The market was a success, and it marked the beginning of Gadabout making life in the city a little bit sweeter.

Last November, Rice was working at a Starbucks in Madeira, but she wasn’t satisfied.

“I was really tired of doing that, and I wasn’t finding what I was looking for,” she says. “I was like, ‘I’m going to start something on my own. I’m not sure what.’ We (she and husband Chaz) looked at the pop-up shop model, and then donuts had really gotten popular. I saw that modeled together and was like, ‘That could work.’ ”

Initially, Gadabout was just Karina, but her husband has become more involved. They didn’t do much planning; they just decided to dive in.

The pop-up angle eliminates the expensive overhead costs of renting a building and gives them more breathing room in case it doesn’t work out.

“We’re not going to try and wade in and get comfortable in the water,” she says. “We just have to decide to do it.”

In coming up with the name, one day she came across the infrequently used word “gadabout.” “I was like, ‘That’s kind of different,’” Rice says. “You don’t hear that word; it’s an old word. It kind of stuck in my head, so if it’s stuck in my head, it’ll stick in other people’s heads.”

Last summer was the first time Rice had ever made her own donuts, even though she grew up cooking and baking. She took a test batch to her church and got positive feedback, and her family, who lives in West Chester, also approved of the delicacies.

“The baking scene is pretty saturated, and there’s a lot of really good bakers out there,” Rice says. “Do I really want to mess with that? It’s a really good thing already, but let’s bring something new to the city.”

Sure, we have Holtman’s Donuts, Busken Bakery, Graeter’s, Servatii and an endless array of other sweet and savory dessert options, but Gadabout is different because it’s basically a traveling donut shop, going from event to event; Karina’s donuts are exclusive and obscure right now, and that makes them even more craveable (they’re also just really good).

Inspired by Holtman’s gourmet options and West Chester’s Stan the Donut Man’s sour cream donuts, Rice did a lot of research and development before perfecting her sour cream dough base. For the O.F.F. Market, she made a yeast donut with a vanilla bean glaze, a sour cream donut chock full of plump blueberries and a berry-lemon glaze and a chocolate-lavender batch made with lavender sugar.

“Anything you can think of, you can put it in a donut,” she says.

She uses all-natural ingredients and no preservatives — “eat better donuts” is her motto. The process of making donuts from scratch takes a while: about 10-14 hours to let the dough sit, time to fry the donuts, then time to let them cool so the glaze can be applied.

For now, she’s baking in Madison Diner’s kitchen in Madisonville, but she hopes to get a spot in Findlay Market’s soon-to-open incubator kitchen.

Eventually, she wants to make a gluten-free donut, maybe some raw vegan ones — as she puts it, “donuts for every lifestyle.”

At the beginning of June, Rice did a pop-up at Carabello Coffee and plans on doing another in August. She’s booked with O.F.F. Market on June 27 and the markets in July, August and September.

“This is still kind of new,” she says. “I’m always nervous. Are people going to like them? They always do. I just want to make sure they do.”

Right now, Rice is not inundated with event bookings or private orders, but she’d like that to change. She’s talking to Deeper Roots about doing a donut day and is open to building relationships with other businesses in town.

As Gadabout grows, she’d like have a bigger space to bake and be able to quit her nanny job, but the main goal for now is to be immersed in the community.

“We love our city, we want to serve our city, and what are ways that we can help other people to feel that way, too?” Rice says. “I think we’ll have to see how it goes and see where life takes us.”

GADABOUT DOUGHNUTS will be at Oakley’s O.F.F. Market Saturday. For more info, visit  

or follow @gadaboutdonuts on Instagram.

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