April 12, 2016

Few foods spark the same love as doughnuts. People across the U.S. rely on these delicious, round confections to get them moving on a tough morning or revel in them as an occasional indulgence. Those who are interested in the baking and pastry arts can find inspiration in the shops that regularly turn out inventive and delightful batches.

Doughnuts inspire an endless variety of looks and flavors.

Making the doughnuts
The essentials of doughnut-making are simple, as Bon Appetit explained. To achieve cake doughnuts with a pleasantly tender texture, associate food editor Claire Saffitz advised using cake flour and not working the dough too much. Frying at a relatively low temperature of about 325 degrees Fahrenheit allows plenty of time for the doughnuts to cook through and grow puffy. The confections stay on the heat until they reach a golden brown and expand, resulting in some cracks on the exterior.

Of course, preparation can get a little more complex when you add jelly or cream to the center. Smitten Kitchen suggested two methods for filling the treats. The easier if less precise way calls for first cooking the doughnuts and then using a piping bag to squeeze in the cream or jelly. For nicer looking results, one can fill and carefully seal the dough prior to frying, but this can be difficult  for the novice to pull off.

Innovations in the perfect circle
There’s nothing wrong with the straightforward pleasures of a glazed or chocolate-frosted classic. However, many establishments have developed attention-grabbing variations with unique flavors and unusual appearances. Such experimentation has made these shops regular stops for locals and, in some cases, tourist destinations with lines that regularly stretch out of the door.

That is certainly the case for Portland, Oregon-based Voodoo Doughnut, which now has four locations in its home state and has expanded to Denver, Austin and Taiwan. This success was built on creative items like the bacon maple bar, which is actually topped with two pieces of bacon, and the signature voodoo doll with raspberry jelly filling, chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake. The features of each doll are unique, making every trip to the shop a little different. Voodoo co-founder Tres Shannon explained to Fast Company Design what inspired twists like the cereal-covered The Loop.

“We were so exhausted after working 16 hours, and we’d still have to shop for the next day,” he said. “So we’d walk through the grocery aisles and say, ‘Why not put cereal on a donut?’ A donut is a breakfast. Cereal is breakfast. And cereal looks great on a donut.”

Background of donuts

Union Square Donuts operates out of Somerville, Massachusetts but makes regular pop-up appearances around Boston. The shop focuses on serving a morning crowd, closing at 1 p.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on the weekend, so get there early. The menu features regular favorites like the Boston cream and brown butter hazelnut crunch, plus seasonal options such as a cannoli hybrid and the vegan-friendly blackberry basil lime.

Sublime Doughnuts has expanded from its Atlanta roots to establish a shop in Bangkok, Thailand. The international acclaim comes from creations like the A-town cream or mocha, each shaped like the first letter in the alphabet. With 24 hours notice, the shop will even prepare custom lettered doughnuts to spell out a special message. What better way is there to express one’s deepest feelings than with a butter toffee doughnut topped by caramel chocolate icing?

Fried chicken and doughnuts have proven a successful combination for some restaurants. At one of the four Philadelphia locations of Federal Donuts, you can enjoy varieties like strawberry lavender, chocolate eclair or guava poppy. If you opt for the fried chicken made with a selection of dry seasonings and glazes, you’ll receive a honey doughnut for dessert.

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken in Washington, D.C. and Falls Church, Virginia focuses on using seasonal, local produce in its confections. Tasty choices like cherry blossom and lemon pistachio rotate on a monthly basis. On the other hand, you can always go for a peanut butter glaze with strawberry jelly or the creme brulee made with a vanilla custard.

The simplicity of doughnuts encourages a tremendous range of wild and irresistible creations. If you are interested in exploring this rich culinary world, you may find ideas for creating your own specialty variety at the local shop.

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