Running rings around health: how doughnuts are capturing consumers

To celebrate National Doughnut Week, we asked our global food panellists to spot what’s hot.

14 May 2018
dessertsugarasianunited statesbakery
Casa Cavia's brioche doughnut

We’re in the midst of a health boom. That’s what all the statistics suggest. But as Food Innovation Solutions’ Mike Faers previously told Food Spark, for every trend there is an anti-trend. And the opposite of healthy appears to be – drum roll, please – doughnuts.

Whether savoury or sweet, these torus-shaped beauties are enjoying a boom all over the world, leading to a multitude of flavour, texture and ingredient experiments. Over at recently opened Fiume in the Battersea Power Station, for example, the signature dish is a doughnut topped with Umbrian black truffle and Gran Padano cheese.

In honour of the UK’s National Doughnut Week (May 12-19), we turned to our global food panel to ask them what’s setting tongues wagging where they are when it comes to Homer Simpson’s favourite snack.

From New York City, US:

Du’s Donuts has made an increasingly large splash in NYC. They’re now even sold at the city’s Whole Foods outlets.

Founder Wylie Dufresne is familiar to US foodies from his acclaimed molecular gastronomy restaurant wd~50 as well as numerous TV appearances – he even took part in British MasterChef in 2011.

image credit: Eric Medsker

He said that with Du’s Donuts he wants to bring a scientific approach to the art of doughnut making.

The flavours are definitely on the creative side: hibiscus and cream, miso cherry and pomegranate tahini are just some of the unusual options that have appeared on the ever-changing menu.

From Los Angeles, US:

LA is in the throes of a total doughnut craze – from high end to low, gluten free to artisanal wheat, vegan to bacon topped.

For an inventive doughnut from a surprising source, there’s the savoury nacho doughnut from Trejo’s Coffee & Doughnuts in Hollywood. The shop is part of the tough-guy character actor Danny Trejo’s growing collection of restaurants around the city – but don’t dismiss it as just a Hollywood hustle: he’s hired serious chefs and the places are being reviewed well.

This doughnut, though, is so quintessentially LA: a classic, round, cake-style doughnut customised with jalapeno peppers, hot sauce and sour cream, topped with cheddar cheese.

One of the best plated desserts LA has to offer at the moment is the rose clove chocolate donut at Bavel, the new Middle Eastern restaurant from Ori Menasche and Genevieve Gergis. As the pastry chef, Gergis has created this ultra-sophisticated dessert: three pillow-shaped doughnuts – dark with cocoa and barely sweet, plus the delicate texture of fine-crumbed cake – which are dusted with rose-scented sugar.

The touch of clove subtly balances the richness of the cocoa and the perfume of the rose. And the accents are equally subtle and delicious: sherry diplomat cream (an old-fashioned concoction of sherry-flavoured pastry cream lightened with whipped cream), along with a beautiful dark chocolate ganache and candied rose petals.

image credit: Nicole Fraznzen

From Buenos Aires, Argentina:

With a Facebook page, an Instagram account and not much else, Donut Therapy has been creating a stir in the Argentine capital. Drawing on the classic US model, the pop-up stall makes its wares with fermented dough in flavours like the Reese’s: chocolate, peanut butter, salted caramel and peanuts. Popping up once or twice a week, the stall sells out every time.

Meanwhile, over at retail-meets-restaurant space Casa Cavia, they do a doughnut made out of brioche with white chocolate and raspberry ice cream.

From Japan:

Mochi doughnuts have been big here for a while. The most well-known version comes from Mister Donut and is called pon de ring.

Made using glutinous rice flour – which, contrary to its name, is gluten free – the texture of a mochi doughnut is chewy and soft in a way that other gluten-free flours can’t achieve.

Usually deep-fried and glazed like a regular doughnut, these rings crossed the International Date Line last year, turning up in Hawaii, where the local press went wild for MoDo’s eats – and they proved so popular with punters that the island state’s 7-Eleven stores also picked them up for a pop-up.

Other places put a Japanese flavour spin on classic American doughnuts, from Krispy Kreme’s luxury range of limited-edition glazes like green tea adzuki beans and sakura (cherry blossom), to Dumbo Donuts’ matcha cream cheese and yuzu with white chocolate.

From Indonesia:

Indonesia’s ‘no-nonsense’ J Co has achieved a cult following that has enabled it to spread into other Southeast Asian markets, including Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. The brand offers conventional flavours with a handful of locally adjusted ones like avocado cream and kaya jam filling with coconut.

Jakarta’s Dough Darlings offers a more outlandish selection of tastes that cater to local palates, including salted durian, salted egg yolk, ispahan (rose), Thai milk tea brulee, purple taro ganache and Oreo.

From Singapore:

Six by Sera serves savoury donuts – and not just as a gimmick! The cafe offers a cheeseburger doughnut, a truffled smoked salmon doughnut and a maple bacon doughnut.

In fact, savoury doughnuts are a bit of a theme with the Singaporeans – Doughnut Shack fills its with sweet and spicy chili crab as well as popcorn chicken, alongside more classic sweet flavours.

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