Is there a dress code? Will I need to make a reservation? Is it proper to wipe my mouth with a napkin? So many questions.
Okay guys. I’m sorry, looks like I dropped the ball on this one. It seems that Crosstown Doughnuts has been silently spreading its doughy wings all across London for about a year now (according to its Twitter feed).
Yet up until about three weeks ago I hadn’t heard of it. How could a new Gourmet doughnut company exist in London without my knowing?! For my ignorance, I can only apologise.
Apparently, while I was sitting on my arse, doing nothing and NOT eating doughnuts, Crosstown has been frequenting food markets across London, gathering fans and spreading the word. The ‘word’ being awesome doughnuts of course.
They now have something like four Doughnut Bars and 28 stockists across the capital where you can pick up their little circles of delight. So what makes these little fellas so good?
According to their website, the secret to the Crosstown Doughnuts experience is apparently in the dough itself. All Crosstown doughnuts begin their lives with a sourdough base, which means that they are not as sweet and do not absorb as much fat when deep-fried as the usual standard ‘nut. It also helps that they then smother them with mounds of delicious toppings.
To make amends for my neglect of Crosstown, I instantly went out and bought 6 doughnuts for “research purposes“.
Sea Salt Caramel & Banana Cream Doughnut
It all started on Record Store Day (18th April) at Rough Trade East, just off Brick Lane. My husband had
dragged asked me to accompany him to RSD, as we do every year to satisfy his vinyl addiction. I was expecting to just be along for the ride and busy myself flipping through albums of ’70s psychedelic German rock bands that I haven’t heard of, when there they were in the entrance of the store, squeezed in among the coffee and other edible treats: a display of Crosstown Doughnuts. My first glimpse of them in the wild. I just had see what a gourmet doughnut tastes like so I bought a Sea Salt Caramel & Banana Cream Doughnut and scurried outside to begin my dissection.
My first thought on taking a bite was that because this doughnut has a chocolate sourdough base the dough itself is not very sweet and it tastes a little bit like eating banana bread. However, there is a GENEROUS portion of banana cream inside and when the dough is combined with the cream, the salted caramel icing and the chocolatey sprinkles on top then the whole things tastes like eating a mouthful of banoffee pie.
In my opinion it would have benefited from more caramel icing for a bigger sugar hit, but it had a good ooze factor and a pleasing banana bumhole. This is when I decided that I would probably be up for some more research in this area, for the team of course.
Vanilla Bean Glazed Doughnut
This is Crosstown’s version of a classic, ring doughnut. However, to add the ‘gourmet’ they hand-dip their’s in Tongan vanilla bean glaze. But of course. Again, because of the sourdough base I found that this doughnut was not as sweet as one of it’s high street cousins, and lacked the soft, squishiness that I usually look for.
However, it had been left out on the stockist’s counter all day so I imagine it was not in the prime of it’s life. The vanilla glaze is very light and melts as soon as it hits your tongue, although I felt that an extra whack of vanilla wouldn’t have done any harm at all.
Choc Cinnamon & Passion Fruit Scroll Glazed Doughnut
This one was NICE!! It was a really lovely, soft chocolately swirl of a doughnut which is rolled up a bit like a chocolate Chelsea bun, but minus the raisins. Apparently it contains cinnamon as well although I have to admit I couldn’t really taste it.
But it didn’t matter, because in the middle was a big old glob of passion fruit curd which was super sweet and lifted the whole thing. The doughnut was topped with their signature vanilla bean glaze which is nice, but the star attraction here is the passion fruit curd. It was delicious. I could have eaten six of these doughnuts alone. Eat this one for a bit of fancy indulgence.
Peanut Butter & Berry Doughnut
This one had me at a metaphorical “hello”. Just look at it, it has all the hallmarks of a Crufts champion! It had a soft but, once again, not too sweet base. None of that mattered though because of all the deliciousness on top!
There is a a good slather of creamy peanut butter icing, with a big old dollop of blackcurrant compote in the middle. It’s also topped with toasted peanuts to give it some extra crunch and flavour. Sometimes you need to eat a doughnut to feel dirty. In those times, this is the one for you. It was definitely my favourite of the bunch.
Creme Brûlée Doughnut
This was the shiniest of all the ‘nuts, by far. No surprise really considering that these doughnuts are finished by blow-torching a load of caster sugar on the top. It is a creme brûlée after all. I found this one was pleasantly squishy to cut into and revealed a good wodge of unctuous, vanilla custard inside. You definitely can’t accuse them of skimping on the fillings.
Orange Blossom Cake Doughnut
This little baby was full of Eastern promise. On paper it sounded like a little bit of everything I love: Moorish spices, sweet date jam, orange blossom glaze and a cardamon crumble. But in reality the panel were split.
Christopher loved it and said it tasted like “India in a doughnut!”. Whereas I felt that the cardamon glaze tasted a little too synthetic like perfume. However, it did have a much more pleasant ‘doughnutty’ taste than the others; that oily sort of unctuousness that leaves you wanting more. Just a tweak of the cardamon and I think this could be a contender.
Matcha Tea Doughnut
Another new take on a classic ring doughnut but this time with added green tea. If you ever feel like you aren’t getting enough antioxidants to ward off those free radicals out there then maybe this is the doughnut for you?*
This one is a standard sourdough base smothered in a vanilla bean and green tea glaze. Overall it was fine, but because it is not very sweet it felt a bit more like eating an iced bun than a doughnut. I think it probably defeats the object to add sugar to your healthy green tea though, right?
*Not approved by medical science.
So there we have it: Crosstown Doughnuts reviewed, my integrity (partially) restored, and my waistline expanded exponentially.
All in all I was pleased to see that Crosstown are offering something new to the doughtnut world, beyond Krispy Kreme’s mass produced ‘same old same old’ kind of taste.
But I must admit I was surprised that they had not gone down the more hipster route of taking an everyday meal/snack and making it more disgusting, and thereby more delicious.
By creating all their doughnuts on a sourdough base I feel like they are automatically making their doughnuts less sweet and less fatty… and therefore maybe less delicious. I don’t know about you but when I eat a doughnut I want to feel dirty, greasy and ashamed afterwards. Of course I could be in the minority here, as I am basically just a fat kid at heart.