I’m going to keep this post short and sweet.. like the amount of time it took me to get through every flavour Doughnut Time have to offer 😉
I’ve been thinking for ages that London really needs to up its doughnut game! I feel like we embrace a lot of the newest food trends here and there’s no doubt that we are seriously spoilt for good food even if we’re a little (or very!) late to both the health-food and the pure foodporn party compared to the US and Australia!
One thing I feel like we’re lacking in is doughnuts though. The over the top, exciting kind of doughnuts that make my inner fat child cry with happiness and give fitness bloggers a heart attack at a mere glance. I do love Crosstown and I can see the appeal (if not the extreme hype) of Bread Ahead, St. John’s and some of the other most well known doughnuts but we don’t have any truly exciting doughnut offerings. In NYC we tried a new doughnut place every day – we got every flavour from maple bacon to mocha-almond crunch and every other one was almost face-sized. Here Crosstown do some pretty exciting flavours, but whilst they’re innovative they’re often alternative (beetroot thyme anyone!?) – the sugar police may even consider sparing me the diabetes lecture! – and the rest of the doughnut options are kind of.. well.. boring. I still maintain that for a simple jam or custard filled doughnut Morrisons wins hands down.
So imagine my excitement when the food Gods of Australia decided to bless us with one of their most incredible looking doughnut companies – Doughnut Time. Long before they were due to open I was stalking their social media, looking through their awesome flavours online and drooling over their pictures!
Now I’ll be the first to admit that I am terrible for hyping things up! I get disproportionately excited about new finds and in many cases I’m definitely setting myself up for disappointment, but nothing could prepare me for this! Firstly.. where are all of the flavours!? Where in Australia you can get the most incredible of flavours including Kinder, a marshmallow and jam filled donut with chocolate glaze, cookie crumbs, mini marshmallows and Wagon wheels, here I was expecting (damn my high expectations!) a whole array of colours, flavours and specials. Two of them are original glazed (one does have M&Ms as an addition) and three or four are just plain doughnuts with fillings like jam or custard (if I wanted that I’d have gone to Morrisons!). Their ‘store’ isn’t even a store! I was expecting a colourful doughnut mecca.. the reality is a hole in the wall with a solitary glass cabinet!
Nonetheless, one of my closest friends (and fellow doughnut lover!) Georgie came back with what were the most exciting looking of the lot – Sia Later (red velvet with cream cheese frosting), Ferrero No Share (dark chocolate glaze with roasted hazelnuts and a Ferrero Rocher), Slim Shady (vanilla glaze with M&Ms) and It’s Always a Gay Time (milk chocolate glaze, crushed biscuits, golden caramelised crepes and a honeycomb custard filling). As soon as we opened up the box I was excited – they were huge. I was immediately hit with the most incredible sweet, sugary smell and I couldn’t wait to face plant them! The dough was incredibly soft too – each doughnut was so light and fluffy, exactly how a good doughnut should be. But then came the disappointment. Where was all the flavour!? The honeycomb custard filling barely had any flavour to it at all – it wasn’t sweet enough for me and I certainly couldn’t taste any honeycomb. The caramelised crepes, milk chocolate glaze and crushed biscuit topping promised so much too – but I honestly couldn’t identify any of those flavours or textures – there wasn’t any milk chocolate in sight and don’t promise me biscuits if I’m not going to get any! Next up was the red velvet doughnut. I love red velvet – mainly because of the cream cheese frosting. Cue further disappointment – where was the cream cheese!? The frosting just tasted like overly sweet buttercream – there was no hint of cream cheese and it completely overpowered the doughnut itself. Which, surprise surprise, was also flavourless. I know red velvet doesn’t have the strongest of flavours but I tasted nothing – literally nothing. We later found out that this doughnut is actually vegan, which would explain the lack of cream cheese.. of all the doughnuts to decide to make vegan surely one which promises cream cheese frosting is not the one 😦
The M&M covered doughnut was probably my favourite of the lot. Not because it was anything special but because at least it didn’t overpromise – it was just a simple doughnut with a vanilla glaze. Don’t get me wrong – despite all the negativity so far I’ll be the first to admit that the dough itself is very good – the doughnuts themselves are incredibly soft.. and the plain original glaze showcased that perfectly.
Finally (and the biggest disappointment for me) was the Ferrero Rocher doughnut. I am obsessed with Ferrero Rochers – hazelnuts and chocolate – what’s not to love!? If I’d closed my eyes I honestly wouldn’t have been able to identify the flavour. The dark chocolate glaze was utterly tasteless and since the dough itself was plain that didn’t bring any flavour either. I’m sad to admit that the Ferrero Rocher itself was the highlight!
Just a couple of days later I decided to give it another chance. After all, I’d been spoilt to pieces and fed like a queen by Georgie – perhaps if I ate one after slightly less of a feast (and with slightly lower expectations!) I’d like them more. I went for Life On Mars (‘rich’ milk chocolate glaze topped with chocolate flakes, caramel and Mars pieces) and Love Actually (Earl Grey tea glaze with a cream glaze drizzle, crushed freeze dried raspberries and mini Jammy Dodgers) – the final two decorated doughnuts that they had to offer.
No more luck here. Similarly to the Ferrero No Share, the glaze on Life On Mars was tasteless. They even go out of their way to describe the glaze as ‘rich milk chocolate. My favourite part was the Mars pieces and the little blobs of caramel dotted around. Finally – the Earl Grey doughnut. I’ll admit I was a little unsure about getting this – Earl Grey can be a very overpowering flavour, and I’ve only recently come around to having it as a mug of tea – I’m definitely not sure about how I feel about it in a dessert. I needn’t have worried. There was absolutely zero Earl Grey flavour.. not even a hint. To manage not to let that pungent, overpowering citrus/bergamot flavour get through is a true achievement in itself – I can still taste Earl Grey in my next drink after washing out my mug for goodness’ sake! Once again, the Jammy Dodgers were the highlight..
At up to £4.50 each, they were turning out to be a constant stream of bank-balance draining disappointment, but on my way to a bloggers’ event the following week I walked directly past their pop-up at Old Street Station and decided to give them one last chance. How generous of me. I went for their final doughnut, and really the one that is surely impossible to screw up – Love at First Bite. It’s a Nutella-filled doughnut, dusted with cinnamon sugar. And God it was good. So damn good. Good enough that you’re blissfully oblivious to any stares you might get from the Nutella smeared all over your face and hands. Good enough that just the thought of it makes me want to run back and buy their entire stock of them (and I hate running 😉 ). It was absolutely stuffed full of Nutella – and I mean stuffed. For anyone who’s ever had a disappointingly filled doughnut (not to mention any names Krispy Kreme..) you must have this doughnut. The simplicity of the doughnut shows off their incredibly soft, well-made dough and there is quite literally more Nutella than doughnut – it’s impossible not to .. well.. fall in Love at First Bite!!
Now that is how to stuff a doughnut!
And in an instant, all my disappointment was gone. Yes the other doughnuts were a bit of a car crash in my opinion, but now I know to walk straight past all of their other over-hyped novelty flavours and head straight for the real deal whenever I want a seriously good doughnut. It didn’t exactly satisfy my want (..need!) for OTT, exciting, sugar-coma inducing, every-topping-under-the-sun doughnuts (the quest to bring some of those to London is still very much on!), but it was so good that it just about managed to salvage what was otherwise one giant, doughnut-sized hole of disappointment.