Friday, April 20, 2012
In the pantheon of treats, doughnuts hold somewhat of a sacred space for me. They were the first thing I ever gave up for Lent. I take doughnuts very seriously. So when I started seeing chatter about Baked by Butterfield both from Flo Fab and dessert guru, Niko from DessertBuzz, the new baked doughnut shop on 77th & Lex, I knew that I had to go check it out. Baked doughnuts? Could that really work...
The shop itself, though small and narrow, is bright and inviting. Nice typography. Clean aesthetics and design. Alas, I didn’t get too many pics before I was busted for taking photos, but I did manage a shot of the menu and my bag o’ treats.
There were lots of tempting flavors. Red Velvet. Frosted Carrot Ginger. But it was the Mexican Hot Chocolate and the puffy Ceylonese Cinnamon that caught my eye. At $3 a pop, these doughnuts don’t come cheap, but neither do Manhattan rents, I suppose. Now the real question, how do baked doughnuts taste?
My son is just starting to form sentences and the other day when presented with a piece of a doughnut from the Cinnamon Snail Truck, proclaimed “Dough-dut! A yummy piece of bread.” The little man is wise beyond his years. But texture-wise doughnuts are so much more than bread. They can be light. They can be fluffy. They can be transcendent. I wish I could say the same of the doughnuts I tried. The Mexican Chocolate one was rather bready. For some reason, I was expecting the Mexican Chocolate doughnut to be filled with some kind of pudding or cream. The filling was thicker, richer and more chocolate mousse-like. I’m not really sure what made it particularly Mexican because it tasted mainly like regular chocolate to me. It actually reminded me of Amy’s Chocolate Bread, yummy on its own for sure. But I have been conditioned by years of doughnut consumption (and at least months of doughnut production) to have certain expectations of a doughnut’s texture.
The Ceylonese Cinnamon fared less well. It looks like just the sort of puffy doughnut that I’d need to eat two of. But when you bite into it, the puff isn’t there. It’s not soft and yielding. It’s actually kind of dry. As you chew, you think to yourself, wait, is this a stale doughnut? The later bites as you finish your chewing having reminded yourself that “no, this is a baked doughnut, it’s not the same” are pleasant enough, but it’s hard to wrap your mind around what to expect from a baked doughnut. I gave my son a little piece of the doughnut to try. He recognized it right away and here's how that scene played out...
Little B: “Dough-dut! Dough-dut!”
Brownie: "Here you go!" [places a small piece on his high chair tray]
Little B: [Plants face into tray to get a bite. Moments later...] “Wah-der! Wah-der"
Brownie: "Here's some nice cold water."
Little B: “Dow-nnn. Dow-nnn. All done, all done, all done.”
Much of the doughnut remained on his tray. Tough room.
I want to believe in baked doughnuts. Doughnuts without the guilt? Doughnuts that I could eat EVERY. DAY. Yes, please! Where do I sign up? But sometimes certain things are meant to be special indulgences. And perhaps that’s true of doughnuts. I’d be curious to see how doughnuts made from more cakey ingredients, like Red Velvet or Banana hold up. Perhaps they’d be more less bready and more like a cake doughnut. I’d be willing to make a return trip to try some more of the flavors, but I'm not rushing to get back. And in the meantime, I'm saving up my calories for DOUGH.