Into the Fryers: The Designer Doughnut Trend

Friday, September 13th, 2013

It all started with the Cronut.

Well, perhaps not, but it certainly exploded after the Cronut. Pastry-hawkers the world over have been heating up their fryers to participate in a deep-fried, sugar-glazed fad: the designer doughnut trend.

The Cronut is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut, and it is just as delicious as it sounds. Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York launched the Cronut on May 10, 2013, and it has since exploded into viral fame and become a much-imitated favorite. However, the Cronut was not the first to use fryers to put a high-end spin on America’s favorite deep-fried breakfast food. Places like Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon have been making unusual doughnuts since the early 2000s, and Psycho Donuts in Campbell, California has been in operation since 2009. Today, doughnut purveyors of all kinds are producing gourmet glazed goodness from their fryers. Designer doughnuts are showing up in all segments of the restaurant industry, from fine dining to fast food. In fact, according to Datassential’s MenusTrends data, doughnuts are now on 4% of all restaurant menus, a 27% increase since 2008.

Dunkin’ Donuts is just one of the many establishments capitalizating on the designer doughnut fad. Dunkin’, which seasonally offers pumpkin-flavored doughnuts, is adding a new one to its fryers this fall: a pumpkin pie doughnut filled with buttercream, topped with white icing and graham cracker topping. Likewise, Gourdough’s, a food truck in Austin, Texas that opened in late 2009 that serves up artisan dessert doughnuts from its fryers, expanded its options earlier this year by opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant with a menu full of savory doughnut dishes like chicken and doughnut hole dumplings, donut burgers, and salads that come served with a “piping hot garlic doughnut”.  And Earth + Ocean Food and Drink in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, which opened in February of this year, features Portuguese doughnuts (“malsadas”).

What do you think of the designer doughnut trend? Have you used your restaurant’s fryers or commercial restaurant equipment to create artisan spins on old fast food favorites? Connect with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us! You can also follow us to keep with more restaurant industry trends and tips.

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