Last weekend, Fany Gerson opened her new donut shop, Fan-Fan Doughnuts, in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, in the former site of the original Dough. As one of the founding chefs and long-time partners of the NYC staple, she announced her split from the innovators at the start of the pandemic and had planned to open her new spot in Clinton Hill. However, like practically everything else, COVID put a wrench in her plans, but Gerson powered through and after a few twists and turns, her latest creation opened for weekends only in her old location.
Taking everything she learned via her tenure with Dough, Gerson no longer considers herself a donut novice and has put her experience to the test to create some incredible new concoctions. These yeast donuts have a similar vibe as Dough, albeit smaller and more manageable in size, with a light and airy dough acting as a solid vehicle for some wonderful, advanced flavors that range from classics like Mexican Brown Sugar, Traditional Vanilla, and Belgian Chocolate to stunning creations like Yuzu Meringue, White Coffee (which has an insane espresso cream frosting), and Raspberry Black Currant. There is also a Boston Creme in the style of a Long John (aka a fancy eclair) that is topped with cocoa nibs and a Sea Salt Caramel that if full of gooey goodness. It seems like each week will have slightly different menu line-ups with a few regulars gracing the menu and the plan is to expand their offerings once they sell enough to buy a second fryer.
In just their second weekend, there was already a good amount of hype surrounding the store and line was pretty decent in length for the majority of the morning. For now, it’s take-out only and there is a small counter which displays their daily selections as they rapidly stuff brown cardboard boxes with these delectable treats to get people in and out as quickly as possible (they’re also cash and Venmo only, for now). While the line is not speedy, the wait is definitely worth it and I can’t wait to see how they transform over time with new flavors.
This weekend saw the return, once again, of Doughnut Plant in New York City. After closing at the start of the pandemic, the iconic local chain reemerged at the start of the summer before having to close down again as they battled to keep their numerous locations open and stocked with delicious goods. As Jason and I have both written about, the virus continues to impact small, local businesses and the restaurant industry has suffered tremendously, which is why we take every opportunity we can to support them through this time.
Earlier this week, Doughnut Plant took to social media to announce a pop-up style return set for this weekend at their flagship spots in Brooklyn and Queens with a reduced, albeit spectacular, menu. In their best efforts to reduce cost and use their resources strategically, this weekend’s menu consisted of a few cake classics (Wild Blueberry and Carrot Cake were there, so my wish had come true) as well as their sensational seasonal favorite, Apple Cinnamon. Maybe it’s the limited availability or the hype that I had built up in my head waiting for this day to come, but it’s quite possible that the batches from this weekend were the best ever. Biting into the Apple Cinnamon was like tasting Autumn in full glory. The decadence was rich, the texture perfect, and it somehow exceeded all expectations. While I wish they could be open every day, I know the logistics in these circumstances must be an absolute nightmare so I will wait patiently and for as long as needed until they can return to their full standards, but I’ll gladly welcome another pop-up as well. Whatever comes next for this institution, I’ll be there ready to give it my full support!
A couple weeks ago, MAD Donuts in White Plains, which I first wrote about back in November, reopened for the first time since closing because of COVID-19, this time as a pop-up. It was emotional for me to chat with the owner, Matt, and to hear about how the business had changed so dramatically since his grand opening in Westchester Mall.
While it was tough to process the impact of the pandemic on Matt, his family and his staff, it was also great to see him doing what he loves to do, and the results remain spectacular.
I was lucky enough to snag a four-donut sampler (Vanilla Bean Glazed, Chocolate Iced, Piña Colada and an unbelievable Lemon Meringue) and a two-pack of their one-of-a-kind apple fritters, which remain a thing to behold. As big as my face, the fritters are just so good. I always say I am just going to have a bite, and I always eat the whole thing. The tart granny smith apples contrasted with the sweet cinnamon glaze gets me pumped up every time.
As both Marc and I have written here, our local donut spots have gotten hurt so badly by COVID-19. Even NYC stalwarts like Doughnut Plant have struggled to figure out how to open in a way that makes sense. So I got immense joy from seeing Matt, his shop and his amazing donuts again. He just announced that the next MAD Donuts pop-up will be on Saturday, October 10, and I encourage anyone in or near Westchester County to place an order.
Last month, I hit the road to Cape Cod, which is now a bit of a late summer family tradition. While there, I always try to visit the Chatham Village Cafe and Bakery, which to me is the ultimate local, small-town donut destination. This year, it was a little different with social distancing, but I was so glad the bakery was still open. When I walked in, the first thing I saw was an employee walking from the kitchen to the front of the shop with a stack of fresh jelly donuts (“just made this morning”), and I knew it was going to be a great visit.
There’s just something about grabbing a donut (or maybe multiple donuts) and an iced coffee then sitting outside in the sunshine that is so perfect. This year, we even saw a couple (along with their dog and their cat) who we saw last year as well. When my daughter said hello, they mentioned that their dog Whitney whines in the morning until they go to the bakery. Amen, Whitney.
This trip, we also tried a new place called Old King’s Coffeehouse in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. A newcomer founded in 2019, Old King’s is much more than a donut shop, serving tons of breakfast and lunch items. But keep your eyes peeled for the donut case at the front counter, which has a daily selection of classic (Old Fashioned) and more modern (Maple Bacon) flavors.
Finding these local spots – especially in an otherwise sea of Dunkin’ Donuts in Massachusetts – is always such a joy. Support your local donut shops, my friends!
There’s no doubt that this pandemic has brought unforeseeable changes to so many aspects of our daily lives. Seemingly overnight, our world was turned upside down. Restaurants in particular have really felt the hit brought on by shuttered doors and operating on delivery alone is proving to be not only a health risk, but virtually unsustainable.
In early Spring, the beloved Doughnut Plant closed in order to better understand how to operate safely in our new climate and in May, they slowly began to reopen their stores for delivery and pick-up. Sadly, they’ve now announced that they’ve closed once again, and now through at least August.
Owner Mark Israel took to Instagram to write a lengthy post on the difficult decision to wind down operations and the future of their stores.
“Small businesses need help and more support. Restaurants have lost more revenue and jobs than any other industry. Fixed expenses have remained the same but as we all know, business is down. NYC in particular has been hit hard: people have left and people are staying home (including tourists). Doughnut Plant doesn’t want to be part of the problem — landlords and property management companies are also bearing the brunt of the pandemic. By temporarily suspending operations our goal is to have a long-term solution with our property managers, not be another “number” shuttering its doors. Later this month Congress will consider their final coronavirus response bill for 2020. We know that the federal government is in the position to provide bakeries, cafes and restaurants the support necessary to help countless businesses survive. Time is running out. Your support these past months has helped, but there is more that needs to be done. Tell Congress to support your local coffee shops, cafes, bakeries, restaurants and employees. Tell Congress to pass the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival.”
We stay away from politics in the Donut Club, but helping our favorite stores stay in business is beyond politics and a critical duty as connoisseurs. Learn more about the Blueprint for Restaurant Revival and, if possible, please do what you can to support these crucial businesses and jobs for countless people.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.