Doughnut Showdown: New School vs Old School
Cake or yeast, frosted or jelly filled, cruller or munchkin (doughnut holes for those outside the grasp of Dunkin’) there are so many doughnut debates to be had, including how to spell it. With such a blank canvas a doughnut is the perfect foil for any number of flavors causing a bit of a resurgence when it comes to new pop ups here and there with some bold flavors like cherry cola and habanero mango. So with the new influx of dough boys and girls on the food scene we took to the streets to compare a new up and comer against a tried and true stalwart of the dough game.
First up is the long-established staple of Linda’s Donuts in Watertown, MA. Having been around since my parents were in high school, Linda’s is as old school as it gets. Still made and hand cut to this day from techniques taught to the owner at Dunkin’ Donuts in the early 80’s, the institution on a small suburban corner always has lines to, and often out, the door. The shop itself is tiny with a few booths to sit at, a counter that squeezes three people in sideways to try and get the last pumpkin spice on the shelf, and a grill in the back for the sweet adverse eaters who need some breakfast sandwiches or the like.
Get there early because they often sell out of some of their most popular flavors, as was the case when we strolled in at a dilatory 8:30 on a Saturday. Worries aside we went with a variety of both yeast and cake, filled and frosted. The basic chocolate frosted was light and airy with a very sweet base dough, it didn’t really move the needle but it wasn’t even close to a disappointment. The Boston Creme was a perfect donut representation of the Parker House classic, oozing with vanilla creme that came poring out when we cut it. While they have a variety of jelly fillings we went with the basic raspberry and similar to the chocolate frosted it was delicious but not really transcendent. However the butternut cake donut is where Linda’s brings the hammer. Having eaten butternut donuts for the past 25 years I still have no clue besides coconut what is on it, but damn do they do it right at Linda’s. It has a caramely and nutty taste that is just sweet enough to cut through the dense cake batter. Overall Linda’s is what Dunkin’ Donuts wishes they could be, having mastered a variety of the classic donuts.
For the new kid on the block we have Moody’s Delicatessen & Provisions tin Waltham, MA, that along with their top notch charcuterie and booming back room restaurant have a decent breakfast spread that includes some of the best doughnuts around. For a “deli” it sure does get popping on weekend mornings, with a long line every time I go in. There are an assortment of other pastries and also a breakfast menu that features some of their deli creations (what up pork roll). But the reason for the visit on this day was doughnuts and doughnuts were had.
The selection at Moody’s is a little more about counter balancing flavors and not usually the tradition one note variety. Overall while they were yeast doughnuts, the actual dough was more toothsome, almost creating a yeast and cake hybrid which was incredible. Aside from the basic cinnamon and sugar the combo’s we got were vanilla frosted with a caramel swirl, chocolate and coconut, and chocolate with bacon. I find it to be a rule in life that inevitably someone will take whatever product they make and add bacon to it, and I honestly have yet to find an outlier where it doesn’t work. Such was the case at Moody’s where the salty bacon and the luscious sweet chocolate frosting danced perfectly back and forth like bachata partners. The hit out of all the doughnuts at Moody’s was the vanilla with caramel swirl. Not to overly sweet the burnt sugar aspect of the caramel worked well complimenting the more savory doughnut.
In this the most heated of doughnut/donut battle I believe I am going to have to announce as the winner……..me. There is a reason that both old school donuts and new school doughnuts are both thriving right now, that’s because they are one of the best foods on the planet. So go get an old fashioned cruller or a new agave and lemon blossom yeast creation and enjoy because the day donuts run out of favor is a day I don’t ever want to see.