(My individual results and observations -- see the main Doughnut Quest 2010 post for more details.)
Top Five (Doughnut Index)
1) Blueberry Glazed, Doughnut Plant (86)
2) Vanilla Bean Glazed, Doughnut Plant (83)
3) Raspberry-Filled, Trois Pommes (82)
4) Raspberry Bomboloni, Sullivan Street Bakery (79)
5) French Cruller, Alpha Donuts (74)
Three days of singular focus on eating and evaluating doughnuts certainly made for a memorable weekend. I felt like I might be going into diabetic shock sometime around doughnut #8 on the first day, but I enjoyed trying so many different varieties in quick succession.
I've been going to Doughnut Plant for almost 10 years now, so I may not be the most unbiased judge, but I think it's pretty clear that they are the all-around champion here. Everything about their doughnuts is carefully executed, as we saw in the four varieties we sampled. The dough, in particular, has taste and texture that are unmatched.
The Raspberry-Filled doughnut at Trois Pommes also bears mentioning. It didn't look like much, but upon biting into it you find that it has very strong and complex flavors -- probably the most adventurous of the doughnuts we tried. The doughnut is dense and yeasty, and the raspberry filling initially hits with a strong note of brandy before mellowing into a deep, complex fresh raspberry flavor. It couldn't quite match the perfectly balanced doughnut essence of Doughnut Plant's best, but it was still a truly excellent doughnut. (It was also the most controversial -- Doug absolutely hated it, and ranked it dead last.)
A few other quick observations:
- Jelly doughnuts are a bit manic -- when they're good, they're really good, but they can also easily be really bad. Our overall top-rated doughnut was a jelly, as was our last-place doughnut. A good jelly doughnut is quite difficult to make, but there's a big payoff.
- I should eat French crullers more often -- I liked all three that we tried, and the Alpha Donuts cruller showed up in my top five. Even at shops where that weren't good overall, I still liked the cruller. When available, a good escape hatch for bad doughnut situations.
- Although their doughnuts weren't notable for the most part, New York's classic doughnut shops are great places. The banter at the Peter Pan Bakery counter could have been put straight into a screenplay, and appeared to be entirely genuine.