National Donut Day and One Year of Donut Club NYC

Dun-Well

On Thursdays, we’d get donuts. Before work from home became our consistent reality, every Thursday was donut day in the office. On my way to work, I’d stop by Doughnut Plant’s Chelsea location to grab donuts for Jason and I to share. I started off getting one of our favorites and one of the flavors of the month for us to try. We’d rate and discuss the limited edition specials and indulge in our long-time favorites. Over time, this evolved into me grabbing enough for a morning bite in addition to an afternoon pick-me-up (paired with a coffee run), plus more for Jason to take home to his family. In the Fall, Jason’s brought me incredible Apple Cider donuts from Stew Leonards which rank as an all-time favorite. Once a quarter, we’d meet before a company-wide meeting either at that Doughnut Plant location or our old school favorite, Donut Pub on 14th Street, where we’d both enjoy more of our classic obsessions (red velvet and cinnamon sugar) as well as black iced coffees. We even took things up a notch and planned a weekend where I went up to Westchester so Jason could show me MAD Donuts, his local spot and others to Danbury, CT to try local chain Donut Delight. We’d also go all out for our teams at work on holidays and special occasions, always outdoing ourselves with bigger and better orders. In fact, the last day we were in the office was Employee Appreciation Day and we managed to cater donuts from multiple sources around New York City as a thank you for our colleagues.

Dough

By now it’s clear that a craving has turned into a passion, a full blown hobby, and a new dietary lifestyle. However, even before we committed our adventures to this blog, our fondness was there and we’d both share updates on our latest weekend treats, out of state finds that we’d discover on various vacations, and share our love of supporting so many local spots. I also spent two months traveling through Australia, South Korea, and Japan and would send pictures and detailed updates to Jason along the way (Seoul wins in overall presentation and service, but Sydney wins for overall taste). So, while our infatuation for donuts was in existence long before we worked together or started writing about them here, sharing these moments with others has been a lot of fun and brought a whole new level of enjoyment to finding new favorites. I also never imagined someone else would be onboard to write a whole blog entirely dedicated to donuts!

Doughtnut Plant

Supporting community shops has always been part of the experience and it’s only grown over these past months. Since today is National Donut Day, naturally I’m participating by ordering from my favorite NYC shop and am happy to be supporting them in a time of need. However, it also means it has been a year since we’ve started Donut Club NYC. In the past, we’ve both written about our traditions growing up with donuts and now I’m excited to have this as an added part of the story. Thanks to everyone who has read this for the past year and thanks to all the donut shops for making this a never ending quest.

Score:
Donuts: 11/10

Peaceful Provisions – a break from the madness

Peaceful Provisions

It was one of the first times I had worn a mask in public. I hadn’t really figured it out so it was fogging up my glasses to the point that I couldn’t see that well. The experience was pretty stressful. But when I walked up to the Peekskill Brewery and got my box of donuts and goodies from Peaceful Provisions, I felt better. I felt more normal.

I’ve written about Peaceful Provisions before – it’s a small bakery that sells out of the ground floor of a brewery in Peekskill, NY, which is about an hour north of New York City by car and about 30 minutes north of where I live. They’ve always done small-batch, vegan baking by hand and sold their products primarily on the weekends. During the pandemic, they have continued to do their thing, accepting online pre-orders and curbside pickup.

For me, ordering from Peaceful Provisions and trekking up there has been a wonderful break from the current craziness. And it seems I’m not alone – Peaceful Provisions opens up ordering for each weekend on Mondays at noon, and while it used to be no big deal to get an order in for every weekend, they now sell out quickly. For me, getting donuts on the weekend is a return to normalcy, and I think it’s cool that others agree.

That weekend when I was new to my mask, I got an awesome order that included cinnamon sugar donuts, coffee cinnamon mixed nut donut buns (yeah, that’s a thing!), a dark chocolate brownie and a coffee cake. Cinnamon sugar is one of my favorite donut flavors of all time, and this one didn’t disappoint – it was light and airy and honestly amazing. The coffee cinnamon mixed nut donut bun was one of the most ambitious donuts I’ve ever seen – it was an enormous cinnamon bun-style fried and sugared creation topped with pistachios and almonds, then filled with a coffee pudding (made with Bucci coffee). I’m normally not a big filled donut fan, but it was special.

Peaceful Provisions
Coffee cinnamon mixed nut donut bun from Peaceful Provisions

I’m glad people are finding donuts again, and I’m really glad Peaceful Provisions has stayed open during this challenging time. I now have an alarm set to try to place an order every week, which is a nice break in my day. I can’t wait to try again this week!

Doughnut Plant Reopens!

Memorial Day Weekend: The official start of summer time in New York City and this year, the reopening of three Doughnut Plant locations across the city! The long-time heroes, and an originator of the artisanal donut trend around town, closed down their shops back in April after operating for a few weeks under strict conditions in evolving times. Mark Israel recently told Gothamist that closing was due to the safety of their staff and customers and the time off has allowed the empire to rethink their strategies and determine new modes of operation. This includes increased sanitary precautions, new uniforms for the staff, and laundry on location to ensure they’re washed daily. Now, the legends are set to resume their position as champions of the game.

This weekend, Doughnut Plant reopened for curbside pickup and delivery only, with all ordering taking place online. A limited menu still offers tremendous variety and I’m sure that over time, they’ll change things up to bring us more classics and new creations.

On Sunday, I made the bold decision to walk from Williamsburg to the Downtown Brooklyn location so I could enjoy my favorite donuts in the city on a gorgeous day in Prospect Park. The limited cake menu consisted of Tres Leche, Wild Blueberry, Black and White, and Brooklyn Blackout. Naturally, I ordered one of each. Plus a Crème Brulee.

My order was ready by the time my roommate and I arrived so we grabbed the to-go bag and made our way to Prospect Park to socially distance and eat under a tree in full bloom. Each donut was as perfect as expected, as if no time had passed and they’d been fully operational this entire time. The Blueberry was tangy and sweet, the Tres Leches smooth, the Black and White inspiring, and the Blackout down right sensational, a wonderful representation of the borough and all its glory. Being able to enjoy them safely in an outdoor setting really was the icing on the cake.

For now, Doughnut Plant is open for business Wednesday – Sunday at their Lower East Side, Downtown Brooklyn, and Long Island City locations. I’m thrilled to have them back and excited to become a regular once again!

Dun-Well Doughnuts – Still Open!

I miss visiting donut shops. Something I took for granted even as things began to change here in New York City. Going to grab a sweet treat on a long walk didn’t seem like something that was about to vanish from my already changing routine and it’s something I miss greatly. As more and more of my local favorites shutter their doors for the foreseeable future, things are feeling a bit bleak. Yes, there are still places open for delivery and I’ve been doing my best to support places around the city, but I miss stopping by and saying hello. I miss the friendly faces and fresh aromas. So, on a gorgeous Saturday morning, I braved the outdoors and walked a few blocks to my long-time staple, Dun-Well Doughnuts.

Inside, their tables have been removed and the counter is now covered in plexiglass with a small opening for monetary transactions (I used Apple Pay to avoid all contact) and a larger one for the staff to handout the orders. With three markers designated for patrons to stand, the vibe inside was not cheery and welcoming like it had been in the past, but rather strict and anxious. The staff was obviously thrilled for customers and greeted me warmly, but it was clear everyone was trying to minimize all interactions (verbal included). I was excited to see my go-to spot, get some face time with their lovely selection, and order my usuals while the option still existed. Exotic flavors escaped the menu this weekend, but standards like Blueberry, Lemon Poppy, Maple, and French Toast still hit the spot! Options are slim and supplies are certainly limited, but if you’re in the neighborhood and adventurous enough to escape your apartment, Dun-Well’s doors are still open and their delectable vegan treats might somehow taste even better now than ever before.

It’s a tough time for New York and our food industry is taking a particularly hard hit through this crisis. My options are slim, but my passion prevails. Thank you for being open, Dun-Well. I’ll keep stopping by as long as you’re around and open for business.

Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop

It’s hard to argue that there are better classic donut shops in all of New York City than Peter Pan’s Donut & Pastry Shop in Greenpoint. The neighborhood landmark has been an institution long before the hipsters made their way north of Williamsburg and the iconic fixture has since become a touchstone for many and that which others will be measured against forever.


Last weekend, two friends dropped off a box of Peter Pan donuts on the front steps of my apartment building (truly the next level of friendship during a pandemic) and my roommate and I devoured them throughout the day. While all of these donuts were lovely, the red velvet holds a special place in my heart (as I’ve previously mentioned) and during a pandemic, it seemed to taste even better than I remembered. The white cardboard box was neatly tied-up with a red string, but otherwise it was plain as could be, not a single piece of branding to be seen. Their old school aesthetics carry-on beyond their shabby interior (brilliant mint greens and other pastels giving it a retro-diner charm) and their simple donuts let their taste do all the talking. No need to dazzle with looks here, these simple, glazed treats are rich in taste and perfectly sweet (best cut with a strong black coffee). The cake donuts are soft and chewy and the yeast was light, fluffy, and just a tab bit sticky. While many other shops have popped up over the years, Peter Pan’s has never felt the need to try and fit in with these chic new stores. Look to their website for further proof that they’re in no way interested in the latest trends, but rather stick to the classics they’ve been creating for decades. In a neighborhood (and city) where changes are a part of every day life, there is a solace in the everlasting glory of this crown jewel.

Moe’s Doughs

As Jason and I have said over the past few weeks, local businesses need our support more than ever and donut shops are no exclusion. While many of our favorites have had to stop operations for the time being, a few spots in the city are still open for business.

Moe’s Doughs, located in Greenpoint, is known by many for their rivalry with neighborhood legend Peter Pan, but their tasty creations are well worth a visit and since many others have struggled to stay open, it felt exciting to support a business that is not part of my usual rotation. I went big for my order and got six specialty donuts delivered to my apartment. Samoa, Salted Caramel, Rainbow Cake, Snickers, Caramel Cheesecake, and Maple Bacon rounded out the order and each was more delectable than the last. Moe’s is a classic-style donut shop with light, fluffy yeast donuts that are perfectly fried and seriously sweet cake donuts that are dense to the core. There are traditional charms here much like Peter Pan and Donut Pub, but Moe’s takes the extravagance up a notch (and the sugar levels as well) making these truly dessert donuts and not so much a breakfast pastry. The Samoa tasted like a perfect replica of the Girl Scout cookie with flakes of coconut hitting the spot, the Salted Caramel exceptionally gooey, and the crispy crunch of the Maple Bacon brought splendid texture to the mix. Every one was wonderfully fresh, sticky, and a much needed sweet relief during such chaotic times.

Scores:
Rainbow: 6/10
Caramel Cheesecake: 7/10
Salted Caramel: 8/10
Snickers: 8/10
Maple Bacon: 8/10
Samoa: 9/10

Doughnut Plant: Meyer Lemon and Poppy Seed

Photo courtesy of Doughnut Plant

As Jason previously noted, the COVID-19 pandemic is seriously impacting our local donut shops. In these times, I’m taking the most extreme cautions while still doing my best to support all my favorite spots and will continue to do so until this crisis is over.

For the time being, Doughnut Plant is still open for pick-up and delivery (no dine-in options) so this week I placed an ordered for my roommate and myself while we continued to work from home. In addition to some of my usual favorites, I added one of this month’s specials to the order; a fantastic Meyer Lemon and Poppy Seed available in both cake and yeast versions. Naturally, I opted for the cake and was wonderfully impressed by the chain’s latest creation. A perfectly tart sensation embodies the cake, without ever being too sweet or overpowering. As is customary with any Doughnut Plant cake donut, they go above and beyond with their batter and include key elements of the flavor throughout the cake itself. Poppy seeds are scattered not just in the glaze outside along some lemon zest, but in the treat itself giving the slightest crunch and a subtle injection of texture. It’s a light, refreshing treat, rich in flavor and satisfyingly moist.

Score: 9/10

Supporting local donuts during the pandemic

Donuts

Most of our local independent donut shops are small businesses. Some have been around for a long time, while others are just getting off the ground. Some had just opened or expanded before the COVID-19 pandemic, and are struggling.

No matter their history, local donut businesses rely on foot traffic for either their whole business or a big part of it, and that is being affected right now. Also, most of these companies employ hourly workers, whose hours or entire employment might be threatened by the decrease in business.

However, most local shops now have online ordering, delivery and even gift cards, which you can use to help them stay afloat during this time. If you’re not comfortable with pickup or delivery, a gift card provides revenue to the business now, and you can use the card later. I put together a collection of links below – if I missed any, please let me know in the comments and I’ll add them.

New York City

Westchester, NY

Road trip: Honey Dew Donuts – Mansfield, MA

Honey Dew Donuts

Last weekend, I was traveling for a family event and stopped off at Honey Dew Donuts in Mansfield, MA. I learned that it’s actually a chain (corporate and franchise) localized in New England, with 145 locations from Rhode Island to New Hampshire.

The idea of a “local chain” isn’t that common in the donut world anymore – while we have a few chains in NYC, most donut shops today are either ultra-local (single location) or national (Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme, etc.) – so it was cool to check out Honey Dew.

The Honey Dew experience felt like Dunkin’ with nice upgrades built in – the customer service was ultra-friendly and helpful and the donuts themselves were much higher quality. I wanted to try a bunch of different flavors, so I got a dozen, and I asked the employee helping me for recommendations. She was more than happy to assist, and reminded me that anyone getting a dozen donuts in Massachusetts better not forget a Boston Cream. And when their signature “Mansfield” donut was sold out, she gave us the last three donut hole versions instead.

I tried a bunch of flavors, and my favorites were the Chocolate Honey Dip, Blueberry Cake (I always try blueberry) and Cinnamon powdered. The first two reminded me of the Peter Pan/Donut Pub style (deep fried plus sweet glaze), but on the lighter side, while the Cinnamon was my favorite. It was super light and almost refreshing.

Overall, it was great to support a business like Honey Dew that has been going for so long and has had success with the multi-location regional model. I’ll definitely be back.

Dun-Well Doughnuts: National Cereal Day

Cereal and donuts. Two iconic fixtures of classic American breakfasts. On National Cereal Day, Dun-Well Doughnuts brought the two together in seven different combinations.

Peanut Butter Cap N Crunch, Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pebbles, Chocolate Cocoa Pebbles, Corn Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Muddy Buddy Pie adorned the line-up and they all met, if not exceeded expectations. The textures of the cereals in tandem with the soft, fluffy donuts themselves were quite the delight, flavors collaborating in the perfect fashion. If there is any fault to a Dun-Well donut, it’s that their frosting congeals in such a way that it shatters with every bite, often making it hard to fully capture the flavors so the Fruity Pebbles and Corn Flakes were a little much and not on the same level as the others. They were a bit of a messy ordeal, but every crumb was worth it. The Chocolate Cocoa Pebbles was delectable, the frosting was perfect and the crunch of the cereal felt the freshest of the bunch. The Peanut Butter Cap N Crunch was another great combo, but the Muddy Buddy Pie why the best of the heap. The pudding center and powdered sugar topping really took things to new heights. The chocolate and peanut butter combo mixed with Chex Mix was a true highlight and without question the best of the batch. Dun-Well is known for always throwing a twist into their classic, daily line-ups, but they really shine when they go all out like today and showcase their ability to go the extra step with their flavors without being too over the top.

Scores:
Peanut Butter Cap N Crunch: 8/10
Cookie Crisp: 8/10
Fruity Pebbles: 7/10
Chocolate Cocoa Pebbles: 9/10
Corn Flakes: 7/10
Cinnamon Toast Crunch: 7/10
Muddy Buddy Pie: 9/10