Cake doughnut heaven
When accomplished chefs turn their attention to doughnuts, magic happens. At the Lynn on Bryant, anyway, where Peter Ireland approaches the cake doughnut with the same finesse and craftsmanship he lavishes upon the rest of his menu. His buttermilk-apple cider formula ($1.25) calls upon nothing more than cinnamon and sugar as embellishments and the results still manage to ascend to doughnut nirvana. They’re the kind of gimmick-free classic that reiterates the head-over-heels attraction of a humble ring of deep-fried dough.
5003 Bryant Av. S., Mpls., 612-767-7797, www.thelynnonbryant.com
Supermarket supremeCub Foods
Cub understands the doughnut’s notoriously short shelf life, which is why each of the chain’s 56 Twin Cities locations fries up a fine assortment on-site, daily. What really stands out are the crusty, crackle-topped old-fashioned cake doughnuts, drizzled in a not-too-sweet vanilla glaze. The price is right, too: 75 cents. Pick up a half-dozen through Saturday for just $2.99.
At the lovable throwback that is A Baker’s Wife’s Pastry Shop, owner Gary Tolle’s just-like-Grandma-made cake doughnuts nail every detail, from the total lack of greasiness to the gently crisp and nutty brown exterior and moist, cakey interior. They’re so genially pudgy and squished that their centers more closely resemble wrinkled navels. No fuss with the garnishes, either: The fanciest is a chocolate icing, but they’re best with a snowy, Minnesota-in-winter-like dusting of powdered sugar. Best of all, they’re just 49 cents a pop; iced versions are an extra nickel.
4200 28th Av. S., Mpls., 612-729-6898
The Salty Tart bakery is a deep-fryer-free zone. “So when people come in and want a doughnut, I say, ‘No, but we have this little fella,’ ” said owner Michelle Gayer, pointing out her fiendishly addictive doughnut hole stand-ins ($3.25). Picture scoops of delicate brioche filled with decadent pastry cream, brushed in butter, baked and rolled in twinkly vanilla sugar. Doughnuts? Technically, no. Fabulous? Absolutely.
920 E. Lake St., Mpls., 612-874-9206, www.saltytart.com
Good, (possibly) good for you
At YoYo Donuts, the juxtaposition is delicious: The artery-clogging cake doughnut ($1.29) pocked with heart-healthy blueberries. Adding fruit probably doesn’t improve its nutritional prospects, but it sure makes for a fragrant, great-tasting dietary justification. Who knows? Perhaps an açai berry garnish is coming to owner Chris Moquist’s wicked-good apple fritter.
5757 Sanibel Dr., Minnetonka, 952-960-1800, www.yoyodonuts.com
“Here, try one of these,” said the nice woman behind the Mel-O-Glaze counter, pointing to a tray of raised, glazed doughnuts ($1). “They’re still warm, and it’ll melt in your mouth.” It did. Turns out it’s the bestselling product at this 51-year-old Minnehaha Parkway landmark, one of the many recipes that the Bosela family has been using to support three generations of doughnut makers. The doughnuts themselves possess both heft and air, no simple feat, and several generous passes beneath a steady stream of glaze leave them moist and sweet. Truly, a Minneapolis classic.
4800 28th Av. S., Mpls., 612-729-9316
At the fun-loving, retro-leaning Glam Doll Donuts, baker/co-owner Teresa Fox gleefully approaches fried dough as a delivery instrument for all kinds of sugary mayhem. Case in point: her gloriously over-the-top raised doughnut filled with lemony cheesecake and topped with cherries. She calls it the “Outlaw” ($3), and in terms of calorie counts, it is positively illegal. And delicious.
2605 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-345-7064, www.glamdolldonuts.com
That seismic shift that rolled across the Twin Cities doughnut landscape six years ago? It was when pastry chef Carrie Summer’s talents intersected with a made-in-Minnesota Lil’ Orbits mini-doughnut machine. Now, more than a million doughnuts later, the Chef Shack food truck continues to own its role as the mini-doughnut standard-bearer, turning out puffy, mouth-melting little lovelies, their gently crusty exteriors enrobed with a spice-rack perfume of cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar. Cost is $5 per fist-sized paper sack, a bargain, particularly considering that all of the ingredients, from the flour to the safflower oil, are certified organic. “We’re really proud of that,” said Summer.
The words vegan and gluten-free don't belong within 100 yards of the doughnut lexicon -- unless Birchwood Cafe baker Sandra Sherva is doing the talking. Sherva deftly transforms garbanzo bean and brown rice flours into tasty almost-doughnuts ($2.50). Baked rather than fried, they boast a tender, cakelike texture, and Sherva skillfully spices them up with a seemingly endless variety of clever, changes-daily flavor combinations, from chocolate-pistachio-orange (pictured) and coconut-date to hazelnut-espresso and Tangelo-thyme.
3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474, www.birchwoodcafe.com
Using a sourdough pre-ferment and enriching her yeasted dough with mashed parsnips are just two reasons why owner Lisa Clark’s ethereal raised doughnuts ($2.49) at Mojo Monkey Donuts are tops in their class. The tinkering doesn’t end there. Out goes the standard vanilla glaze, replaced by a tangy mango-honey finish, and instead of resorting to crayon-color decorative sprinkles — the emoticons of the pastry world — Clark garnishes her pride and joy with elegantly wide dried coconut flakes. Like so many of the goodies in the shop’s cases, this is a doughnut that tastes as good as it looks.
1169 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-0142, www.mojomonkey.biz
Among the many expertly prepared doughnuts at Angel Food Bakery + Coffee Bar, a total standout is the maple-bacon Long Johns ($2.50). Their appeal is simple, and visceral. “I always tell people it’s like when you have pancakes,” said production manager Deanna Doran. “You know, when you cover them in syrup and then get a little piece of bacon on your fork, too.” So true. The thick, buttery glaze exudes a fresh-from-the-forest maple flavor, and the applewood-smoked bacon is baked in the oven to a mouthwatering crispiness. No wonder they’re the bakery’s top-selling doughnut.
86 S. 9th St., Mpls., 612-238-1435, www.angelfoodmn.com