Doughnuts Go Gourmet

Try unique varieties of doughnuts in a range of flavors in sweeteries in California, Oregon, and Vancouver, B.C.

Doughnuts from Blue Star Donuts in Portland, Ore., image

At Blue Star Donuts in Portland, flavors include bourbon and basil.

Whether made from cake or yeast dough, doughnuts are on the rise. Witness the raging popularity of Portland’s Voodoo Doughnuts. 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 Donuts in San Francisco. “It’s a pastry like any other and should be treated as such.”

  • Staff 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, blueberry bourbon basil. “People will be having doughnuts catered at weddings,” says co-owner Micah Camden. (503) 265-8410, facebook.com/bluestardonuts.
  • "We pull from cocktails, classic desserts, sweets from our childhood," says Bryan Widener, co-owner of Doughbot in Sacramento. Creations include rosemary lemon poppy seed and the s’more, a cinnamon cake doughnut with sugar, chocolate, and a house-made marshmallow. (916) 444-5157, doughbotdonuts.com.
  • At Doughnut Dolly in Oakland, Hannah Hoffman uses the steel funnels on her marble counter to load pastries to order with changing fillings such as Meyer lemon cream and wild plum. (510) 338-6738, doughnutdolly.com.
  • In its new 3,000-square-foot storefront, Cartems Donuterie in Vancouver, B.C., 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.” (604) 671-6015, cartems.com.
  • The mostly hole-free offerings at Donut Savant in Oakland are diminutive by design. “That way it’s easier to try different varieties,” says baker and owner Laurel Davis. Flavors include salted maple as well as German chocolate with coconut-pecan filling. (510) 972-8268, donutsavant.com.
  • San Francisco’s Dynamo Donuts opened its second branch in the Marina District last November. Both shops offer such refined confections as strawberry Earl Grey, rhubarb hibiscus, and blueberry cornmeal lavender. (415) 920-1978, dynamodonut.com.
  • Patrons at SLO Donut Company in San Luis Obispo, Calif., choose among chai, Nutella, and boysenberry with cream cheese, or invent flavor pairings at the doughnut design center. (805) 782-9766, slodoco.com.

Photography by Robbie McClaran

This article was first published in May 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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