Anna Gatti is the force behind Doughnut Dollies’ elaborate creations
Anna Gatti rarely has a moment to spare—which is just the way she likes it. As the co-owner of Doughnut Dollies in west Buckhead and Marietta, and a wife and mother of three, Gatti has been known to work 12-hour days, sometimes starting as early as 1 a.m.
A Culinary Institute of America graduate, Gatti first worked in fine dining at restaurants such as 103 West and Canoe before returning to her first love: pastries. “I love to cook, but baking is more methodical, and you can do it on your own time,” she says. “It suits my personality. I’m very focused and detail oriented. I’m kind of a rule follower. Baking is what I love to do to relax.”
In 2005, Gatti and her husband, Christopher, opened Canvas Cafe & Bakery, a breakfast and lunch restaurant in Marietta. They used the basement level of the space to create the first Doughnut Dollies in 2015 and expanded to Howell Mill Road last year.
“It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she says. “I never really liked doughnuts because they all tasted the same. I love to elevate the idea of what a doughnut is with real craftsmanship, bringing in all of my high-end pastry experience.”
Everything at Doughnut Dollies is made in house without artificial ingredients, colors, extenders or preservatives. The majority of the doughnuts use a 24-hour brioche base and come in flavors such as cereal bowl, brown sugar fig and the bakery’s signature, Sweet Jane (vanilla bean buttercream). Others, such as birthday cake and chocolate mint cookie, use a cake batter base. The menu changes monthly. “I just think about what I like to eat and what’s available in season,” Gatti says.
What makes your doughnuts unique?
It’s a rich dough with butter, eggs and sugar. The slow, cold fermentation process develops a lot of flavor. The brioche has the best texture and flavor to be a vessel for the toppings and fillings you want. The cake batter is rich and buttery, but not super sweet, and has a great crumb to it.
What holiday specials do you offer?
For Thanksgiving, we have pie inspired flavors like pumpkin ginger, cherry, deep-dish apple-cranberry, French coconut and chocolate bourbon pecan. For Christmas, the doughnuts are cake-inspired like yule log, cannoli, red velvet, coconut and fruit cake. What’s your daily schedule? I start [as early as] 1 a.m. to proof the yeast doughnuts. Someone else comes a couple hours later to roll out cake doughnuts. We make the cake batter the night before. Someone else comes and decorates. Everything has to be out the door [of the Marietta location] to open [at Howell Mill] at 7 a.m. Then we start making everything fresh for the next day. Usually we’re closed by noon or 1 p.m. I enjoy being there. I’m there at least three days a week. I try not to work weekends. I like to have some family time.
Tell us about your family life.
I have three daughters, ages 11, 14 and 16. My husband is at Canvas at least a little every day. There’s a lot of juggling. My kids attend a University-Model school where they are home two days a week and at school three days a week. It’s helpful for me to be at work so early. I get home and touch base with the kids. My husband and I tag-team a lot. I help with homework, make dinner and go to bed around 7:30 p.m.
What do you do for fun?
I like to garden. If I could do anything and money didn’t matter, I would be a farmer. I like working with my hands. I don’t like to sit still. I love to be outside and see things come alive. That speaks to my soul. With my family, I like to find a beach or lake and go swimming.
What are your plans for the future of Doughnut Dollies?
We’re always on the lookout for different locations.
1963 Howell Mill Road
Foodie Tastemaker Columnist at Simply Buckhead. Contributing Editor at Atlanta Magazine. Restaurant Aficionado and Mother of Two.