If you managed to watch the A24 movie “First Cow,” then you’ve already got an idea of how an early version of the doughnut looked. They were called by their Dutch name olykoeks (meaning “oily cakes”). Interestingly, you can copy the recipe from the Kelly Reichardt movie here.
The pastry evolved in the mid-19th century when a woman named Elizabeth Gregory topped deep-fried dough with spices from her ship captain’s son’s cargo and put hazelnuts in the center. She called them doughnuts, according to the Smithsonian.
Fast forward to today and the doughnut has become a favorite vehicle for all sorts of flavors, cream fillings, toppings, and glazes. Here, four doughnut shops in Manila share some of their observations on trending and upcoming doughnut flavor trends.
Poison Coffee and Doughnuts
Established in 2017 and known for launching adventurous flavors using a sourdough/brioche blend, Poison’s doughnuts are a great start if you’re craving unusual profiles.
“Last year we launched the Filipino delicacies-inspired doughnuts such as mangga’t suman, maja blanca, and macapuno pie,” says pastry chef Sonny Mariano. “We also had chips-coated doughnuts such as white choco Cheetos, dark chocolate Ruffles, and milk chocolate Doritos. But I think the most adventurous so far is our previous set—the Kikkoman doughnuts. There was the Kikkoman with soy sauce buttercream, Kikkoman glaze with banana miso pudding, and Kikkoman glaze with wasabi white choco and bonito flakes. Who would think that soy sauce would go well with desserts and doughnuts?”
Some of the flavors did so well that they eventually earned a spot in the regular product lineup. Poison’s current flavors are spiked with alcohol and evoke the spirit of a more grown-up Christmas: Mojito is a mojito-soaked doughnut with lime-mint sugar glaze while Cuba Libre is a rum syrup-soaked doughnut topped with cola frosting and candied lemon and gold leaf.
“Last Christmas we did an eggnog doughnut and it did really well so we extended the line with alcohol this year,” says Mariano.
Another trend that Mariano has noticed is that consumers don’t mind shelling out more money for food. “Consumers nowadays aren’t too price-sensitive as long as they get their money’s worth.”
We Knead Bread
As someone who has worked in the events industry, Lia Villanueva had to look for another income stream as events started to dwindle in the wake of the pandemic last year.
“Since I have a diploma in pastry and bakery arts, I decided to utilize that and give away bread to family and friends,” says Villanueva. What started out as a small business of 15 to 20 boxes of pastries a week has since grown to more than 100 assorted boxes per delivery day.
Using a brioche base, We Knead Bread’s doughnuts pride themselves on eschewing preservatives and using freshly whipped cream, high-quality fresh fruits, and only couverture chocolate. Their popular doughnut is the Strawberry Cream Donut, which is an Instagrammable glazed doughnut with whipped cream brimming with ripe, fresh strawberries.
Villanueva also plays with flavor combinations that some may find interesting. “Our menu features familiar flavors because most of our clients lean towards nostalgia. We do have off-menu items that I post from time to time either as an Instagram post or story and if one of our eagle-eyed clients spots it, then they can order it.”
Some of the adventurous flavors Villanueva has produced are the black sesame creme with caramel miso and chai tea-spiced white chocolate. Her hunch on what flavors will be popular this time of year? “Since -ber months signal the holiday season, I’m sure flavors like ube, quezo de bola, bibingka and puto bumbong will come out. There is no limit to new or reinvented flavors for donuts.”
Vegan sisters Jaderani and Sarada Santos founded Green Bar back in 2014 to offer plant-based meals that didn’t sacrifice flavor. “We started as a small deli case in an Alabang yoga studio before transferring to Makati. We grew cautiously, starting out doing deliveries only and then a tiny cafe that only had a handful of seats until we finally moved to our larger location in Legaspi Village in December 2019,” recounts Jaderani.
Their vegan, yeast-raised, deep-fried doughnuts produce a fluffier texture and have become a cult favorite among those in the know. “When we started, our baked goods and sweets selection was quite minimal. It is now one of our most popularly selected categories and our range of goodies has grown due to demand. Creating desserts and baking without milk, eggs, and butter can be tricky and many of our customers are surprised that our desserts are all plant-based,” says Jaderani.
With pandemic lockdowns keeping people cooped up at home, Green Bar sees more people turning to food that is both healthy and comforting to compensate for the isolation. To illustrate, a particular doughnut creation has gotten quite popular. “One of the more unusual flavors we’ve done is a Maple Chickun Donut (yes, we make a vegan Chickun nugget!). It did so well that we expanded on it and made it a breakfast special and is now called the glazy donut sandwich.”
The indulgent sandwich comes with a plant-based “egg” inside and a tiny pitcher of maple syrup to drizzle all over.
PV Misa and her husband started Breadlounge back in November 2014 as a side business. Just this year they opened a small store in Imus, Cavite.
Breadlounge’s doughnuts have a soft and chewy bite as their dough is an Asian and brioche hybrid with a 16-hour fermentation process. “One thing that we will never compromise, and something that takes us beyond comparison from our competitors, is our freshly made dough—all are freshly made daily and goes through an intensive process to ensure we give soft pillowy doughnuts that are addicting to eat even without any glaze on it,” says Misa.
Serving doughnuts fresh also applies to the other ingredients they use. “If you notice, we have very limited variants. This is because we try to make them as unique as possible. All our doughnuts have no preservatives and no artificial flavorings so the glazes we use are extracted from real fruits,” Misa says.
Breadlounge offers easy favorites such as the Vanilla Bean (plain glaze), Dreamy White (white chocolate with almonds), and Xocoreo (choco ganache dipped in Oreo chunks). However, their bestsellers come from their more unusual variants: the BananaQ is covered in caramelized sugar with a banana cream filling inside, the Milktea doughnut uses real black tea, Ubeki is an ube-glazed doughnut sprinkled with latik, and Matchio is a matcha-glazed doughnut topped with pistachios and black sesame.