Armed with a passport full of coupons from Rhode Island Food Fights I took a road trip around RI yesterday to try and find the best doughnuts in the state. We are very lucky to have so many options in our tiny little state and RI Food Fights to help us take advantage of trying them all! If you don't know about RI Food Fights, I highly recommend that you check them out! They offer different events and "passport" coupon booklets throughout the year to help you taste and vote for all of the best in food and drink in RI. Chris and I have purchased coupons for Best Doughnuts, Wings, Calamari, & Pizza and we haven't regretted a single one. I've also entered in their Best Cupcakes and Cookies competitions and found them to be a great time all around. Also, a quick shout out to Jim Nellis, the founder, for being an all around sweetheart of a man. Seriously, go check their events out.
I haven't been able to make it to all of the doughnut shops on the passport, but I did get to a total of 12 out of the 19 available on there so far (I hope to make it to a one or two more before the month is up)! Even though there were A LOT of shops on there, I found that some of the most notable in RI were not included. The two that stand out the most to me of those missing are Allie's, in North Kingstown, and PVDonuts (pictured above), in Providence, but based off their steady popularity I'm not surprised they decided to stay out of this event. And while I do consider them solid choices, I still don't think they will ever hold up to my favorite!
Yesterday I picked up a total of 20 doughnuts and only sampled 2 while out on my adventure (did it for the photos, just look at them all piled up there looking delicious as heck!). Some shops had lots of choices to offer while others only had one option or were down to their last flavor, but I didn't care, almost any doughnut is an acceptable doughnut to me. My first stop was at DeLuise bakery on Chalkstone Ave. in Providence. It's only a couple of minutes from my house and has been an RI staple for almost 100 years. Their doughnut offerings are simple and classic, I picked out a french cruller and a plain with chocolate frosting. DeLuise also has a location in Cranston on Oaklawn Ave. which I stopped at a little later in my trip. At the Cranston shop I grabbed a frosted chocolate cake donut and a plain chocolate frosted with sprinkles.
Their doughnuts were exactly as expected, straightforward and simple with classic flavors. Nothing too outstanding or bold, just tasty doughnuts. My next stop was to the spot where both Glaze'n Daze Donuts and Sans Gluten Artisan Bakery are located on Greenville Ave in Johnston. Glaze'n Daze was a cute little shop with trendy looking doughnut flavors like Chicken & Waffles and assorted Cereal toppings. Their doughnuts were a little on the smaller side, I didn't catch the price per doughnut but it seemed like most things were reasonably priced in there.
I got one called "Party Time" that had a coconut glaze, cake crumbles, and sprinkles and one called "Cocoa" that was covered with Oreo crumb and stuffed with a cookies and creme filling. Cocoa was a whole heck of lot better than Party Time, which slightly disappointed (but may have been personal preference as I can be picky about coconut flavored things).
Right next door was the itsy bitsy little shop called Sans Gluten. The man behind the counter was one of the owners (he and his wife run it) and he was incredibly excited about the business. We talked quite a bit about his pastries, how his family has been afflicted by food allergies, and how satisfying it is to bake for customers who can't eat out like those without allergies. I shared with him that being a baker myself I always love to sample different kinds of pastries so that I can have something to compare to when I try and bake it. So I've tried my fair share of gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free, etc. and most of them are not spectacular. It took me a while to get my gluten free cakes to where they are, so I completely understand how that could happen, gluten free baking is not as simple as just a few substitutions. Sans Gluten's pastries however, were absolutely spectacular. I tried a blueberry cake donut with lemon glaze (the owner suggested I have it warmed, I did, and it was worth it), as well as their double chocolate cake donut, and a small sample of their pumpkin swirl bundt cake. Each of the pastries were incredibly moist and had very very little to no grainy texture to them. I ate the entire blueberry one before I made it to my next stop it was so good!
Next I moved on to 4Corners Coffee off Airport Road in Warwick. This place was SO cute! The exterior was painted royal blue with a thick pastel pink stripe around the bottom and they had a massive doughnut sign on the front, you really can't miss it when driving by. The inside was just as bright and fun with hot pink and blue chairs and a big glass case filled with enormous pastries.
They also have amazing smelling BBQ options that they will serve up on a doughnut sandwich if you so choose. I picked out a "Scouts Cookie" s'mored flavored donut and an "Aztec Chocolate". From the name I probably should have assumed that the Aztec would be a spicy Mexican chocolate type deal, but I didn't. I tried just a little bit of the chocolate frosting on top first thank god because I would have been in instant pain otherwise. I'm leaving that one all for Chris...I'm sure it will be delicious cause it was super moist, smelled amazing, AND had a little caramel drizzle! Scout's Cookie on the other hand, was delectable, with fresh toasted marshmallow, graham cracker crumbs, and part of a s'mores Girl Scout cookie to top it all off (they also do a Thin Mint version).
After 4Corners I headed back into Providence to stop at Silver Star Bakery on Ives Street. I've been to Silver Star before but I had never tried their doughnuts so I was very excited! They were very similar to DeLuise in their offerings, classic and simple. I picked out a powdered jelly doughnut and a glazed doughnut twist. The jam in the jelly doughnut was delicious, I believe it was raspberry flavored. The twist was wonderfully doughy and sweet, both doughnuts were solid but still not my favorites!
Next up on my journey was The Blue Kangaroo Cafe in Barrington. This shop was a down to earth cafe in a busy little shopping plaza. They only had one flavor of donut, Pumpkin Spice Cake with Maple Glaze, but they did offer it in gluten-free as well. I only tried the original version and it was bursting with flavor. It was definitely more of a fall donut in my opinion but I did enjoy it overall and I'm sure there are people out there who enjoy pumpkin year round.
After the Blue Kangaroo I headed towards Bristol to stop at The Beehive Cafe and The Beehive Pantry. Both places are eclectic and cozy cafes with a laid back earthy vibe. The Cafe was right down by the water and busy as a beehive (hah) so I headed over to the Pantry, about 5 minutes away. They only had two flavors of doughnuts left to offer, so I tried one of each. One was a classic cinnamon sugar coated and the other was an old fashioned chocolate cake. The cinnamon sugar must have had some spices in the dough too, that made it extra delicious! The old fashioned had that classic chocolate cake donut flavor and was perfectly moist.
My last stop yesterday was to Augusta Street Kitchen in Providence, a one room shop offering gluten-free pastries. I'm not sure if everything there is gluten free or not, but the sticker they put on their boxes tells a little story about them and one of the bakers has Celiac's so I wouldn't be surprised if it was all GF. They said they normally offer an organic blueberry donut but were out when I got there, so I tried their ganache glazed vanilla frosted chocolate cake donut. It was heavenly, the donut itself was rich and dense but also very moist and not too heavy. The frosting and ganache were tasty and not too sweet to balance off the cake. Another great GF find!
If you are still reading at this point you may have noticed that I haven't said anything about any of these places being my favorite. I unfortunately didn't make it back to my favorite yesterday, but now that I've sampled all these others and well I can confidently cast my vote for the best doughnuts in RI. My vote goes to.....KNEAD DOUGHNUTS, right in downtown Providence. I've had nearly every flavor they put out and let me tell you, not a single one has disappointed even slightly. Their fried doughnuts are fluffy and airy yet still perfectly dense. And then they dip them or fill them and make something so perfect infinitely better. Their cake donuts are always DIVINE and the glaze gives them this perfect little crunch that I just die for. If you haven't been to Knead yet, I urge you to head there as soon as you possibly can, you might spend a little more there than other shops but the product you'll receive is truly gourmet. My favorites I've tried thus far are the blood orange glazed, matcha, cinnamon roll, and the omega, their raspberry fritter.
Anyone out there have any shops that I absolutely must try that might change my mind? The last two I really want try and make it to on the passport are Ma's Donuts and Confectionary Designs (which is in MA, but whatever) then we'll see if I need to update this post at the end of the week, though I highly doubt it, Knead is just too good!