Anyone who knows me knows I’m absolutely doughnut obsessed (doughnuts and cookies are undoubtedly the way to my heart!) so this list is long overdue.. happy eating!
You simply can’t come to London and not get a Bread Ahead doughnut – they’re undoubtedly one of the most famous in London and a prime example of something done simply, but so, so well.
Despite being one for the absolute doughnut purists, focusing on the highest quality dough and ingredients, they offer a surprising range of fillings, from the classic raspberry jam to praline or honeycomb. Some of the flavours are a little too subtle for me (I’d love more vanilla in the vanilla crème pat) but the majority of them are wonderful, and the dough itself is so wonderfully soft and fluffy that I’d happily eat it with no filling at all! Given their huge success, they’ve opened up a café in Soho, and they still have their original stall in the heart of Borough Market (alongside so many other wonderful bakes – their focaccia is divine!), but my favourite place to get them is from the giant trays immediately outside their bakery itself.
Best of all, they offer a number of baking classes too. Naturally I went for their doughnut one (and I couldn’t recommend it more; you get to eat so many hot, fresh doughnuts!), but they also have half and full day classes focusing on everything from British Classics to Scandinavian bakes or even gluten-free bakes!
If you haven’t heard of Crosstown, where have you been hiding – these guys are absolutely legendary! Not only do they have a ton of stores and doughnut carts all around London, they stock many cafes and coffee shops, you can find them in Wholefoods and other high-end food stores and they even did a doughnut tree for The Ned’s first birthday party! Unlike many other doughnut companies, they opt for a sourdough base, and when it comes to unique and interesting doughnuts of the highest quality, they are absolutely your go-to. I’ve tried everything from their simple jam doughnut (which I absolutely love), and their chocolate truffle ring (which is wonderfully rich, and has filling despite being a ring doughnut!) to the less conventional beetroot & thyme doughnut (pink, from the beetroot) or matcha, and honestly I love them all equally. They’re constantly bringing out new and seasonal flavours, have an unrivalled range of vegan doughnuts (so much so that one of their stores – I think the Marylebone one – is vegan only!) and they have great coffee too (I think Monmouth, but I may be wrong!).
The newest doughnuts in town (maybe not by the time I get this post up, at the rate I finish posts that I start!), and I was so excited about these! Based in Hertfordshire, appearing at food festivals and stocking local cafes, this sourdough doughnut company have recently got their first permanent spot in a gorgeous area of London, just a stones’ throw from Seven Dials. Similar to Crosstown, they use sourdough, but it’s a true sourdough base (with no yeast), so expect a slightly more dense, bread-like texture compared to the others on this list. They have an awesome range of flavours, from chocolate salted caramel (possibly my favourite) to banana & PB, but there are also vanilla glazed and jam filled doughnuts for those who prefer simplicity and with all of their dough, fillings, toppings and compotes made fresh each day by their dedicated team, you can be guaranteed the highest quality, and the utmost attention to detail whatever you choose. It’s not just doughnuts though – they also have great coffee and doughnut ice cream sandwiches, featuring the most incredible ice cream which they source from Northern Bloc; think flavours like tonka bean, ginger & hazelnut or strawberry & yuzu – wonderfully unique flavours to complement their delicious doughnuts.
This was (very sadly) a very short lived doughnut love.. the day I saw them setting up outside my office at a new food market I was so excited – we may not be short of good doughnuts in London, but we’re definitely short of good novelty doughnuts, and with the food market being scheduled to run every Friday, literally right next to my office, it couldn’t have been more perfect. Their doughnuts are wonderfully light and fluffy, topped (and filled) with all the biscuits / chocolates / sweet things I love, so it was an absolute dream of a doughnut company for me
Thankfully I was too greedy to wait, and got a box while I could.. but I’m hopeful that they’ll be back soon.. and you can bet that as soon as they are, I’ll be queueing for their doughnuts!
Similar to bread ahead, the focus at St John is on good quality dough – you won’t find any crazy fillings or toppings here; in fact, I’ve only ever had jam doughnuts from there, but there’s no doubt that they’re good ones! I love finding them in the railway arches near Maltby Street market, but I’m also keen to try their food; I’ve been told that their small plates are wonderful!
If you’re looking for super light, fluffy dough, unique and innovative flavours, or even letter-shaped doughnuts, then Vicky’s doughnuts are for you! Vicky and her lovely team handmake all of their donuts in Hackney, and with their bespoke online orders, they’re great for a gift, but unless you order online, they’re not always that easy to get hold of! There was a while when I was lucky enough to find them at Kerb St Kats on Fridays, but they seem to have disappeared for now.. hopefully they’ll be back soon!
Truthfully, I wasn’t sure whether to include these on the list or not – they came highly recommended from a number of people, but personally I found them to be a bit of a disappointment; most of them were style over substance. They come in a huge range of exciting flavours, and the fillings and toppings are great, but the all important dough was too oily and dense for me.. even from looking at the colour and texture of the outside I could tell they weren’t going to be fantastic, and despite giving them a go, sadly my initial suspicions were confirmed. That said, they weren’t terrible by any stretch and perhaps if I was in the area I’d give them another go!
Starting out in Boxpark, these guys have now expanded all over the UK.. and can even be found in the UAE. Their doughnuts are actually baked, not fried, using a traditional patisserie-based baking process which is so unique that it is patented in Europe and the US. In my opinion, you can definitely tell that they’re baked – they aren’t as light and fluffy in texture as the others on this list, and I do miss the good coating you get on a doughnut when it’s fried. That said, I’m a fan of their cronuts.. similar to their doughnuts, you can tell these are baked (for a truly indulgent cronut visit Dominique Ansel or Rinkoff Bakery), but I love the layers, the frosting and the buttercream centres – my favourites are the Zebra and the Nutella!
I had to finish on a high, and despite admittedly having initial reservations when I first tried them, Doughnut Time have become an absolute firm favourite of mine – a doughnut bucket list (or any dessert list to be honest!) would not be complete without it.
I feel like the majority of the time I spend on Instagram is spent drooling over all of the incredible doughnuts available in Australia and NYC, so when they moved over from Australia I could not have been happier; as someone with a ridiculous, insatiable sweet tooth they’re my perfect doughnut. Admittedly not as high quality as some of the others, but when you get them fresh they’re wonderfully light and fluffy and they’re undoubtedly the biggest and most novelty in London.. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say they ‘couldn’t possibly finish one’…. usually as I’m in the process of devouring one……six pack!!
Lastly, and (very sadly) not in London, I have to give a shout out for Doughnotts – some of the best doughnuts I’ve had, and I’m not sure whether in the long time I haven’t been able to get my hands on them, I’ve hyped them up and remembered them to be better than they really were, but they were seriously, seriously good doughnuts in absolutely incredible flavours.
And so the inevitable question.. which is my favourite!? I almost feel like it’s an impossible comparison – they’re all so incredibly different that there’s no real comparison to be made. There’s no doubt that I love the novelty of Doughnut Time – any place that stuffs a doughnut with that much Nutella is sure to make me ridiculously happy. But honestly.. I feel like you could get novelty doughnuts like this in so many cities.. and if not then just buy a plain doughnut and go wild on the toppings at home (as I so often have). So if I had to give one answer, and you could (heaven forbid!) only try one doughnut in London, I’d say it would have to be Crosstown – you won’t find such a unique mix of flavours at such a high quality anywhere else!
Let me know if there are any others I should try! 🙂