Photo credit: Hong Vo
“Hope your pancreas is on, because it’s going down,” said no one during our first-ever Donut Derby, which, thanks to a team of dedicated editors who bravely risked catapulting their blood glucose levels out of the safe zone for the sake of donut ranking (and ranting and raving), is now Westchester’s preeminent, definitive, and dare we say only, donut evaluation.
Last Friday, our editors fanned out across the county, hitting Westchester’s known “donut destinations,” or at least what we judged them to be. (Aside: There’s more to this story. Two editors and an intern were sent to retrieve donuts from bakeries that we came to find out didn’t sell donuts at all, or only sold them on weekends, or only made certain donuts on certain days. Woops!) It’s worth noting, by the way, that our editors were totally anonymous—no one knew we were coming.
Hiccups aside, we had one goal: Blindly taste test and rank the county’s best jelly and glazed donuts. We judged jelly and glazed to be the “quintessential” varieties. Whereas not every donut purveyor might be expected to have perfected their coconut almond flavor, for example, it’s pretty safe to expect the jelly or glazed to be a well-honed, fair and accurate representation of any donut shop‘s penchant (or lack thereof) for spooling up a decent donut.
Now, not every shop that sold jelly sold glazed, and vise versa, so we evaluated jelly and glazed independently—and separately—which meant the number one-ranked glazed, for example, could, in theory, hail from the same shop with the lowest-rated jelly. This didn’t happen, thankfully. The point is, this test is more about the donut than the donut baker, so don’t count any of these places out just because the jelly didn’t impress. Oh, and you know we’re not huge fans of chain restaurants here, but we threw Dunkin’ Donuts in the mix for a curveball. Keep everyone on their toes.
All said and done, we had five glazed competitors (Sunshine Doughnut & Yogurt Shop in Ardsley, Dunkin’ Donuts, Beascakes Bakery in Armonk, Galloway’s Country Kitchen in Scarsdale, and Ossining Bakery) and seven jelly (White Plains Bake Shoppe, Enrico’s Pastry Shop in Hartsdale, Sunshine, Dunkin’ Donuts, Topps Bakery in Bronxville, Galloway’s, and Ossining Bakery). Editors tasted anywhere from a quarter to a half of each donut. Some editors partook in only the jelly portion, others the glazed, and a few brave souls stuck it out for both.
We had eight testers for Jelly; 11 for glazed. Each donut was ranked on a scale of one to five, five being the highest. So, combined, the maximum rating a jelly could score was 40; glazed 55.
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Here are our favorites:
(8 testers, maximum rating of 40)
Third Place (26 points): Topps Bakery
First of all, kudos to Topps for making the best looking jelly donut in this group. They were round, plump, doused in white sugar. Other praise focused on the jelly-to-dough ratio, which more than one tester described as “good.” The jelly itself received a few nods, but Staff Writer Karen Odom summed it up best for this entrant: “Looks pretty—prettier than it tastes.”
Second Place (28 points): Galloway’s
Galloways’ jellies were soft and moist. So much so that Assistant Editor Scott Simone threw a “very” in front of his “moist and soft” observation, and Digital Editor Nicholas Gallinelli had these glowing remarks: “Very delicious, tart jelly, moist, and good powder.” Associate Art Director Jess Brown also liked the moist factor, but felt there was too much jelly for the softness and left an account of distress on her evaluation form, saying there was “too much jelly for the soft dough” and her “donut collapsed in hand.” But a good effort overall.
Winner (32 points): Enrico’s
Enrico’s came closest to jelly donut perfection. They were arguably the least cakey, and slightly oily—in fact, the taste did a good job of reminding you that these pups were fried, but not in the eyebrow-raising, trans-fat-limits-violating, funnel-cake-at-the-county-fair way. Rather, in a decidedly melt-in-your-mouth kind of way. A way we loved—nearly everyone gave Enrico’s high marks. The most ardent dissenter, though, was our Editor-in-Chief Robert Schork, who lamented that they had the “wrong consistency for a donut” and slapped them with a “1” rating. Otherwise, remarks glowed. Scott Simone said they were “very pretty looking” and “nice and moist, very soft, with a perfect jelly to dough ratio.” Senior Editor John Bruno Turiano liked the jelly and etched in handwriting so horrific it betrays the notion of a dominant hand, “Filling good.” The jelly was demure and lurked pleasantly in the background on intake, working in concert with the dough—not competing with it and stealing the show as jelly has a bad habit of doing in donuts.
(11 testers; maximum rating of 55)
Third Place: Galloway’s (30 points)
Reviews for Galloway’s glazed were decidedly less glowing than those for their jelly. Articles Editor Marisa LaScala said they were “not bad” but “nothing special,” and two editors thought these were the Dunkin’ Donuts plant. Jess Brown commended an even coat of glaze but said the coating was a little too sweet and tasted artificial.
Second Place: Dunkin’ Donuts (39 points)
Our editors fell for this batch like James Franco in an icy crevasse, except the only thing amputated in this case was their dignity upon realizing they’d mistook these mass produced, undoubtedly lab-perfected circulars for Westchester-bred goodness. Copy Chief Carol Caffin had the biggest palm-to-face moment during the after-test identity reveal, having assigned Dunkin’ a rare five-point rating and saying the texture was “excellent,” the glaze was “perfect,” and the sweetness was “pleasant and airy.” Art Assistant Tykischa Jacobs said they were “delicious, very soft” and had “the perfect amount of glaze.” Many editors, though, thought the glaze was too sweet. [This is a huge departure from Dunkin’s turnout with jelly, by the way—those had artificial-looking red innards that drew comparisons to nuclear reactor fuel, and Associate Editor Katie O’Donnell said the jelly “tasted like Robitussin.”] But what can we say? Dunkin’ makes a good glazed.
Winner: Ossining Bakery (41 points)
Easy to say that all glazed donuts are more or less the same, but when you have five different glazed in front of you, the differences are amplified, and it’s easy to tell which toes the cakey/sweet line best. That being said, everyone was more or less united in concluding that Ossining hit the mark. Marisa LaScala said they had the right amount of cakiness and were not too sweet. Robert Schork scribbled a five in the score column and said they had the “best consistency and density.” Scott Simone said they were the best overall but lacked glaze, while Jess Brown praised the “slightly buttery flavor.” No negative comments? That’s a solid win.