Today is the start of National Doughnut Week and I thought this would be as good a time as any to publish my piece on my love of the doughnut and my particular favourites here in the capital.
Let me start with Crosstown Doughnuts, one of my all-time loves and one I’m ready to suffer a sugar spike for. Their apple pie mini dough bite is half the size of a regular doughnut, filled with a homemade apple pie filling, topped with their ‘signature’ Tongan vanilla bean glaze and a divine shortbread crumble.
If you like your doughnuts plain (ish) then another favourite is their cinnamon ring. A lovely light sour dough ring is rolled in cinnamon sugar but looks are quite deceptive, this packs a really full-on flavour punch. This is another cracker, the cinnamon sugar glazed roll doughnut.
St John Bakery was one of the first to create some of the best doughnuts in the capital and each weekend addicts make the pilgrimage to the Druid Street bakery. Monday to Friday they sell them from St John Smithfield, Wednesday to Sunday from St John Maltby and every Saturday and Sunday morning from the St John Druid St bakery. For those in central London, Selfridges have a delivery each day. In my humble opinion, they need to up the filling, but they’re good nonetheless (£2.50).
Bread Ahead‘s doughnuts are what Instagram was invented for and it’s at least once a day over the weekend that I see one of the bakery’s doughnuts being lauded for the first time. Visually they are stunning, they taste even better, and the star baker is Justin Gellatly (formerly of St John’s). His creations are made to be photographed and are usually filled to the brim with delicious flavoured creme anglaise. I recently spied malt and banana custard doughnuts with salted digestive biscuit crumb. The Hot Cross Bun Doughnuts were one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Ever. I took to Twitter to say so. Justin wrote back “So happy you enjoyed them, I think it might be my favourite doughnut I have made so far.”
Over in Hackney, there’s a hatchery, not selling chicks but doughnuts. Part of Bird, the chicken shop, it’s here at the Doughnut Hatch they sell handmade doughnuts with glazes which change daily – cinnamon, maple syrup and Oreo are just a few on offer. Split in half, they pump the middle full of fresh vanilla ice cream or cream, drizzling that tower with a sauce of your choice.
Rinkoff Bakery make what they call the Crodough. It’s basically croissant dough which is deep-fried to give it height and produce the layered effect. It’s then filled with 9 unique flavours and people travel from all over to get a taste of one of the inventive flavours. Recently they rolled out the Easter Crodough – a creme egg version topped with white and toffee orange fondant.
You Doughnut! offer up bite-size balls of lovely. Salted caramel, indulgent chocolate or one of their specials to cover your punnet of doughnuts and then you can add a scoop of ice cream for the greatest treat.
If you’ve not noticed these are all sweet doughnuts but there are savoury orbs to be had. Head up (forty floors) to Dan Doherty’s Duck and Waffle and try his ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam with smoked paprika sugar.
Incidentally, Krispy Kreme have installed a vending machine in their store on 229 High Holborn, right next door to Holborn tube. From the 9th May to 21 May you can use your contactless card to buy a Nutella-filled doughnut knowing that all proceeds are going to the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Baked doughnuts aren’t the same, I know but if you fancy a hit of the sweet stuff, this fuss-free Doughnut Making Kit from Lakeland is worth getting hold of. There are moulds for ring and filled doughnuts and a cutter for yeast dough rings.
My recipe for these doughnuts are for cake, rather than the yeast-filled, deep-fried kind you may be used to.
125g plain, sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
30g unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
65g soft brown sugar
60ml plain yogurt
200g granulated sugar mixed with 2 tsp ground cinnamon
115g unsalted butter, melted
Piping bag with no nozzle
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Grease the doughnut moulds.
Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a medium bowl. Whisk the egg, brown sugar, milk, and yogurt together until smooth. Add the melted butter and vanilla extract, beating until fully mixed. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined and the batter thick.
I put the batter into a piping bag and fill the greased moulds, three-quarters full.
Bake for 10 minutes until the edges are just brown. Allow to cool then transfer to a wire rack. There may be batter left for a few more doughnuts so repeat the process.
When the doughnuts are cool enough to handle, take the melted butter and dip each in the liquid then straight into the cinnamon sugar mixture, making sure the rings are totally coated. Eat straightaway. They can be kept for a few days in an airtight tin.
Doughnuts in their natural state will freeze for up to 2 months. Completely defrost before warming up in the microwave for a breakfast treat.
For a basic sugar glaze
150g Icing Sugar, sifted
3/4 tbsp milk or water
2 tsp vanilla extract
Put the icing sugar in a medium bowl and slowly stir in the milk and vanilla, a little at a time, to make a smooth, glaze. Dunk each donut in and leave to sit on a wire rack, with greaseproof paper underneath, to catch any drips.