[Note: this post was written by Laurel, although we did decide that Duc should get to respond to my comments and give his own rankings at the end.]
Duc and his wife run a little B&B operation in their house. Since their house is kept vegan, the breakfast is always vegan, so Duc has been working on vegan donuts to serve guests on some mornings.
And let me tell you, for a guy who doesn’t cook a whole bunch, Duc’s donuts are shockingly delicious.
Duc likes yeast donuts, so that’s what he makes, but vegan-style. The ingredients you need to replace in yeast-donut dough to make it vegan are essentially eggs and milk, which is pretty straightforward — however, we’ve tasted some pretty strangely-textured vegan donuts before. Why are these people struggling so much? Duc’s vegan donuts don’t show any sign of their lack of dairy products. So what’s the deal? Is Duc a secret genius? Vegan donut providers in Ithaca (we’ll taste them here soon), get your shit together!
The donut smells sweet and yeasty — almost like a honey wheat roll, fresh out of the oven, that you’d dream of slathering in soft salted butter and a nice oozing of honey.
It’s springy to the touch, and feels pretty light. Duc likes moist donuts, so this isn’t surprising, but I find this a little too moist for my taste. This is likely coming from too much fat in the dough, or oil from the frying process seeping in, which is preventing a cakey fluffiness that I’d like. But it’s a welcome texture after all the much-too-dry donuts we’ve tasted.
Overall, I think the texture is pretty compelling. Unfortunately you can see some of the fry oil seeping in, which is a little unappetizing. There isn’t too much of a crusty outside, but the texture of the glaze is nice and set, and crispy enough that I want to keep feeling it on my tongue.
I’m pretty sure the dough’s flavor is more interesting than any yeast donut I’ve tried in Ithaca so far. You can taste a soft wheaty, yeastiness in the batter, which is extremely pleasant and matches the texture nicely. There’s a touch of sweetness but not a lot — most of the sweetness comes from the glaze (which is yummy and I could use more of, but Duc prefers a lighter hand with glaze).
In general, it tastes pretty good. I have to knock down the score because I can taste the oil from frying, and it’s bringing an unpleasant flavor and overall greasiness that’s hard to get past.
This was actually a bit of a learning experience for both of us, I think, making us realize just how important the temperature and time in the oil is. Without the extra oil, and the strange flavor that it brought, these would have been the best yeast donuts I’d had so far in Ithaca, without a doubt.
It’s a little weird reviewing my own creation, but it’s an educational exercise. You can try my recipe right here and taste for yourself.
I basically agree with Laurel entirely. The maple glaze was wonderfully appropriate for the season while being more interesting than the simple sugar glaze I generally like so much. Yeah, I usually prefer a light touch with glaze, but in this case I think I should’ve coated both sides. The insides are fluffy and yeasty, just as I like ’em. I agree there’s too much oil inside, which is likely a consequence of the fry oil’s temperature being too low. Also, having made the doughnuts on a whim to reward some particularly friendly guests, I didn’t have an optimal supply of oil on hand.
All that said, my own doughnut was in fact the best doughnut I’ve had in a long time. I’m giving myself a 4 on flavor and a 4 on texture, because they’re both very close to my personal ideal and I have a higher tolerance for greasiness. My mission to get to a 5 in both categories includes using fresh peanut oil instead of old canola, frying at a hotter temperature to avoid oil seepage and glazing the entire doughnut. I’m sure we’ll revisit this again.
The most gratifying part of this review was when I asked Laurel what she missed from a non-vegan doughnut. She couldn’t think of anything.