Traditionally a sweet morningtime treat, doughnuts have taken a unique turn. Savory, often extreme, flavors are appearing on around-the-clock doughnut menus. Intersecting the breakfast-all-day and sweet-turns-savory trends, these new permutations are appearing everywhere from boutique doughnut shops to full-scale restaurants.
Bacon is often leading the ingredient list for these savory doughnuts. In Portland, Vodoo Donuts offers a Bacon Maple Bar, a raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and bacon on top. In Minneapolis, Cardigan Donuts offers a bacon-jam filled Bismarck topped with candied bacon. The only thing better than bacon is bacon with beer, so Glam Doll Donuts offers the Girl Next Door, filled with Havarti and Muenster cheese, finished with a beer glaze with bacon crumbs.
Meet the Hi-Top
Some chefs are offering up doughnuts that cross the line from coffee-break snack into filling appetizer or meal. That’s certainly the case at Hi-Lo Diner, an original 1957 Fodero Diner which traveled from Gibsonia, Pennsylvania to Minneapolis. The 75-seat diner has a rotating menu of a signature menu item called Hi-Tops, which are made-to-order fried doughnuts topped with sweet or savory ingredients. Their best seller is the Gary Coop’er, a doughnut topped with buttermilk fried chicken, country gravy and a maple-bourbon syrup. “Everyone goes gaga over it,” says Marissa Schafer, Hi-Lo’s Creative Director.
“We did a lot of testing before finding a recipe that worked for us,” she explains. “What we ended up with is like a doughnut, but isn’t completely a doughnut. It’s less sweet, and it doesn’t have a hole, so the toppings stay level. We make them to order, and we have a deep fryer just for the Hi-Top station, which is unusual for a space of our size.”
Schaefer says the response to savory offerings has been surprising. “When we opened a little over a year ago, we had half of the menu devoted to savory, but right now we have only two sweet and seven savory Hi-Tops. We find diners use them as a shareable appetizer instead of an entrée.”
Her advice to other operators considering a walk on the savory side? “Make sure your base is really good before you start dressing it up, and make sure you can reproduce it consistently,” she says. “We spent five months testing our base before we found a formula that worked.” And as far as what to use for toppings, she says to pay close attention to customer demand: “They’ll let you know what they like.”
Tasting Table looks at the savory doughnut trend
Nine seconds of savory, gooey goodness: watch this video of a Glam Doll Mac & Cheese Doughnut from Foodbeast
Still craving sweet donuts for your menu? Check out Sister Schubert’s® Yeast Dinner Roll deep fried and tossed in sugar.
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