The Hungry Chum: A definitive guide to Anchorage doughnuts
If you ask my family, I’ve never been too shy to say what needs to be said. I won’t sugarcoat it — I have found the best doughnuts in Anchorage.
As I write, there is sugar coursing through my veins. Some people talk about being able to feel adrenaline move through your body, but I think I can feel the sucrose pumping its way from my heart to my hands.
This task has been on my list for a while, but has always felt too daunting. (After all, I’m just one human person — not a dog nor any other thing the internet has wondered.)
First of all, there is the whole debate whether a “typical” doughnut or a cake doughnut is better. For those who might not know, your typical airy, light doughnut is made with yeast which gives it those distinct qualities. A cake doughnut is leavened with baking powder or baking soda, giving it a denser, crumbly texture — old fashioned doughnuts are a subset of this broader category. Both varieties are usually fried.
Second, there are three heavy-hitters in town: Golden Donuts, Dino’s Donuts and now, Krispy Kreme. Their respective followers are bitterly divided, so much so that were I not to remain anonymous I might get pinged in the head with a cruller for what I’m about to say.
So, I called in a team to help take on the Herculean task of tasting the big three side-by-side — KTVA 11’s Daybreak.
My scores aligned nearly spot on with theirs and I thank them for putting their tastebuds and waistlines on the line. However, I wanted to go further. What separates a gas station or grocery store doughnut from one of these high-end confections? The answers may surprise you.
For my highly scientific study, I tasted a yeast and cake doughnut from each shop, where available. “Plain glazed” in the graph below refers to yeasted doughnuts; “old fashioned” are cake doughnuts.
So without further ado, I give you:
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Best Yeast Doughnuts
Golden Donuts – plain glazed
The lightest and most airy of all the doughnuts I sampled, Golden Donuts’ plain glazed was the Daybreak crew’s favorite by a one-point margin. For me, it tied with the runner-up for flavor, eked one point above on texture and fell behind by one on the icing. It wasn’t overly sweet, but if there is such a thing as a doughnut that is too airy, this one skirts that line.
Dino’s Donuts – plain glazed
Daybreak scored this as their runner-up, but for me it tied with Golden based on the specifics listed above. I liked their icing a bit more, but it was markedly denser than Golden, leading the tasters to note you could probably only eat one of these in a sitting. The dough itself was less fried than Golden, which explains its lighter color.
For those who love a bargain, Dino’s was the only shop to offer a free 13th doughnut when you buy a dozen.
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Best Cake Doughnuts
Dino’s Donuts – old fashioned
This doughnut was an interesting mix of crunchy outside and moist interior. The icing clings to the craggy exterior of this dense cake doughnut, but it was the subtle spices that I loved best. Perfect to have around for the holidays for those guests who get up at 5 a.m. on weekends when you want to sleep in.
My tasters said this was a “special occasion” doughnut, which for them may mean holiday, but could mean any Tuesday you survived the weekly staff meeting without telling Kendra how you really feel about her ideas. (Treat yourself for those small victories, y’all.)
Kobuk – old fashioned
Highest score for texture out of all the doughnuts I sampled goes to Kobuk. From my notes: AMAZING. This, too, had those subtle spices I loved from Dino’s, but fell shy on the icing score to secure the second place spot.
My tasters didn’t get to try Kobuk because the shop doesn’t open until 11 a.m., which seems odd for a place that sells doughnuts and coffee. However, the cozy cafe in the back of the store made this spot the winner for the unofficial category of best ambiance.
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Where The Others Fall In
Krispy Kreme – plain glazed
Now is the time to break hearts. In a side-by-side tasting, the Daybreakers and myself all rated Krispy Kreme lower than Golden and Dino’s; some I rated were lower than Holiday doughnuts.
This doughnut was too oily — in fact, when you bite into a Krispy Kreme take a look at the inside. You’ll notice what I call the “ring of grease,” where the oil has seeped into the dough. Texturally, this was lighter than Dino’s doughnut, but didn’t beat out Golden’s wonderful air pockets. The icing felt too sweet, but it needed to be to negate the oil.
Holiday gas station – plain glazed
One of the surprises for me were the offerings from Holiday, which scored solidly in the middle of the pack. The bread itself is plain, a little bland but pepped up with the icing. It’s density was more bread-like, which kept it moist for hours when I had to try it again for comparison to another.
The coffee at Holiday was another surprise. With more kinds brewed hot and ready than I could count on one hand, I paired my doughnuts with a Costa Rica blend. I think it was especially great after spilling it on myself three times on the way to work. (Where are those weird little sticker stoppers when you truly need them? Also, any suggestions for washing coffee out of a down coat?)
Holiday gas station – old fashioned
Another upset, this doughnut scored better for taste than the similar offering from Golden. It, like the winners, was nicely spiced. The texture was a little rougher than the other old fashioned doughnuts included here. Overall, a surprisingly good doughnut that earned its spot amid the pack.
Golden Donuts old-fashioned
This was also spiced, but it was a little heavy-handed. Unlike the subtlety of Dino’s and Kobuk, this offering beats you over the head with vanilla and warm spices. The texture didn’t rate as high as the winners, but it had the typical crunchy outside and a smooth inside. The icing felt like it mismatched with the spiced cake doughnut, making it a tad too sweet.
Krispy Kreme – sour cream cake
Speaking of sweet, this doughnut was sickly sweet. Tasting it instantly made me think of fair-time confections like funnel cake. It was super dense, but its texture was very smooth. The icing was good on its own, but on top of the already sweet cake, it was too much. However, I’ll bet if my tasters were kids, this would have been a crowd favorite.
Krispy Kreme – old fashioned
This one was interesting because it didn’t have any icing. Thick with flavors of vanilla and almond, it was sweeter than the plain-Jane ring looked and surprisingly moist without icing to keep it that way. My tasters said it was more like a sweet bread because of its dense, smooth texture. It’s a good one to dunk in a cup of coffee.
This confection was less sweet than I was expecting, which stemmed from the dough itself that was rather plain. It was the icing that took center stage in the absence of more flavor in the doughnut, though it wasn’t much better than what the other grocery store on the list offered up.
Here, they serve Starbucks, but the dining area is smack dab in the middle of the store. It was a bit awkward sitting next to a pyramid of snowmen as people scuttled past with shopping carts full of deli meat, cheese, candy and one piece of fruit so the checker didn’t judge them. (Even when the checker was themselves.)
Fred Meyer (Midtown)
The cake was pretty flavorless and the jam inside was way too sweet, which led to an inconsistent taste and texture as I ate the doughnut. The icing was flaky and thin, while the bottom was completely barren. Texturally, the dough fell in the middle of the spectrum, but it was far from light and airy.
So, what makes it worth it? Apart from being able to get a nicer cup of coffee from the Starbucks kiosk, Fred Meyer in Midtown has an upstairs dining area complete with large banks of windows and a stone fireplace. You can almost forget you’re in a grocery store to be quite honest. If you are willing to skimp on taste for a triple punch of price, convenience and ambiance, then this is your spot.
Krispy Kreme – doughnut holes
This was the only doughnut I chose to spit out. In short, it was awful.
They were little oil balls, with a very distinct “ring of grease,” paired with a dry, coarse texture and icing that was not well distributed. Do yourself a favor and skip it because these don’t stand anywhere near the best doughnuts in town.
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So there you have it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, dear friends — I have some fruits and vegetables to eat.
KTVA’s The Hungry Chum wants to hear from you — share your favorite spots to eat in the comments below and follow the Chum on Instagram.
Always in search of the next great meal, The Hungry Chum brings you regular restaurant reviews with honest opinions. The views expressed are the writer’s, not necessarily those of Denali Media or its employees.
The post The Hungry Chum: A definitive guide to Anchorage doughnuts appeared first on KTVA 11.