Whether made from cake or yeast dough, donuts are on the rise. Witness the raging popularity of Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut and Blue Star Donuts. Now even more shops are hand-making small batches with fancy flavors. “We just tried to bring dignity to the doughnut,” says Sara Spearin, owner of Dynamo Donut in San Francisco. “It’s a pastry like any other and should be treated as such.”
In its 3,000-square-foot downtown storefront, Cartems Donuts has room for experimental offerings such as mango cream, pulled pork, bourbon and bacon, and a cassia honey and Parmesan “bee sting” that shop owner Jordan Cash calls “a meal for sure.” He also offers gluten-free and vegan versions.
A wonder child of Cupcake Royale bakers, Rodeo Donut uses ingredients from the Pacific Northwest to make brioche dough and clever toppings. The menu rotates throughout the week, so plan ahead if you want to try a specific flavor such as the filled sour apple and plum, blueberry bourbon fritter, or pistachio rose ring. You can find Rodeo Donut's offerings at the storefront in Old Ballard or at the Capitol Hill and Ballard Cupcake Royale locations in Seattle.
Bakers at Blue Star Donuts in Portland searched France for a brioche recipe to give their product a thicker, more buttery body. Most flavors have a twist: cinnamon horchata glaze, Meyer lemon key lime, or blueberry bourbon basil. “People will be having doughnuts catered at weddings,” says co-owner Micah Camden. Not in the PNW? Grab a brightly-hued treat at one of Blue Star's shops in Los Angeles.
It's practically against the law to go to Portland without eating at one of the many food trucks that line the city. Pip's Mobile Doughnuts and Chai brings some sweetness to the mix with made-to-order doughnuts and steaming cups of chai tea. Look for flavors like Nutella, honey and sea salt, and cinnamon sugar. (You can also visit its storefront on Fremont Street.)