National Doughnut Day. It sounds almost too good to be true, right? Unlike the marketing drivel that drives most of these annual promotions (see National Rotisserie Chicken Day), this honest-to-goodness event reaches back to 1938, when the Salvation Army set aside the first Friday in June to pay tribute to the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. To celebrate this worthy tradition, we’ve gathered plenty of deep-fried ideas — cake, raised, filled and glazed — from a dozen top Twin Cities doughnut purveyors.
1. Yes, there is a doughnut — sort of — for those following vegan and gluten-free diets. The bakers at the Birchwood Cafe turn out two varieties daily ($3), in flavors that range from tangelo-thyme to rhubarb-lemon. They’re baked, not fried. “But it’s a round pastry with a hole in it,” said owner Tracy Singleton. “That’s the niche we fill. There’s a doughnut for everyone.”
3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474, birchwoodcafe.com
2. The hallowed cake doughnut tradition is alive and well at neighborhood bakeries across the Twin Cities, including the Heights Bakery in Columbia Heights, Valley Pastries in Golden Valley and P.J. Murphy’s Bakery in St. Paul. These coconut-topped beauties ($1.15) hail from Sarah Jane’s Bakery in northeast Minneapolis.
2853 NE. Johnson St., Mpls., 612-789-2827, sarahjanesbakery.com
3. The white cardboard boxes at Mel-O-Glaze Bakery are imprinted with a “Box of Bribes” logo, a sterling example of truth in packaging. This south Minneapolis classic, which has nearly 60 years of know-how in the deep-fried arts, turns out one of the city’s great bargains: springy raised doughnuts, liberally dunked in a vat of sticky glaze, at $1 a pop.
4800 28th Av. S., Mpls., 612-729-9316, meloglazebakery.com
4. Anyone who makes a habit of visiting Mojo Monkey Donuts knows that owner Lisa Clark is famous for her mango-glazed, coconut-flecked raised doughnuts. But the yeasty, Long John-style “bars” ($3.49), liberally finished with a maple-honey icing and crowned with a thick-cut bacon slice, are another breakfast-of-champions specialty.
1169 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-0142, mojomonkey.biz
5. Adorable pint-size doughnuts, done up in a litany of creative flavors, are a reason to patronize Sleepy V’s. But owners Vince Traver and Kiah Gumeringer have a genuine gift for super-fancy filled doughnuts ($3). Don’t miss the version invoking a luscious cream cheese center, tangy (and not-too-sweet) raspberry icing and a honey-nut streusel finish.
1226 NE. 2nd St., Mpls., sleepyvs.com
6. How do you make a plain-old cake doughnut stand out? Bogart’s Doughnut Co. owner Anne Rucker does it by using a ton of top-shelf Valrhona cocoa powder, then balancing its rich bitterness with a sweet sheen of vanilla bean-infused glaze. The $2.25 price is far above the cake doughnut competition; then again, so is the quality.
904 W. 36th St., Mpls., 612-886-1670; 80 S. 8th St. in the IDS Center, Mpls., 612-259-7700; 928 W. 7th St. in Keg and Case Market, St. Paul,bogartsdoughnutco.com
7. While it feels like heresy to not be championing the sublime, sour cream-enriched old-fashioned doughnuts at Cardigan Donuts, they ultimately take a back seat to the buttery, eggy and delicately rippled French crullers ($1.95), which mimic the airy richness of a popover while inserting a touch of the doughnut’s sugary profile.
40 S. 7th St. in City Center, Mpls., 612-259-7804, cardigandonuts.com
8. From rows of sprinkled, cereal-dipped and s’more-topped yeast and cake doughnuts, one of the most popular items in the case at YoYo Donuts on any given morning is the sellout fruit fritter: apple, usually, followed by cherry. Peeling back the glazed layers, like plucking petals on this flower-shaped pastry, reveals a jammy red tint in the center of the cheerful cherry version ($1.99).
5757 Sanibel Dr., Minnetonka, 952-960-1800, yoyodonuts.com
9. Girl Scout cookie season feels like forever ago, but not at Thirsty Whale Bakery. The north Minneapolis storefront tops one of its $2.50 yeast-raised doughnuts with sweet caramel, toasted coconut and a drizzle of chocolate, for a rich, mega-size version of the classic Samoa cookie (known in this part of the country as the Caramel deLite).
4149 Fremont Av. N., Mpls., 612-259-7168, thirstywhalebakery.com
10. Sure, you can get two sour-cream doughnuts with a burger in between them at the Copper Cow. But don’t let that stunt dish distract you from the beautiful simplicity of the pastry itself, which is available sans meat in the restaurant’s to-go division for $3. The barely sweet (if not for the glaze) doughnut is so moist you can practically hear it sigh when you pull it apart.
5445 Eden Prairie Road, Minnetonka, 952-297-8066, coppercowkitchen.com
11. There’s nothing illegal about the Outlaw, Glam Doll Donuts’ cherry cheesecake doughnut ($3.25). The tang of the cream cheese filling, like the inside of a fried wonton, is offset by a sweet cherry glaze reminiscent of a Tootsie Pop.
2605 Nicollet Av. S., Mpls., 612-345-7064; 519 Central Av. NE., Mpls., 612-223-8071, glamdolldonuts.com
12. It takes a special plastic container to hold the Texas doughnut, a Hans’ Bakery legend. The $5 yeast-raised, glazed and sprinkle-topped doughnut is the equivalent of five normal rings and can cover the entire faces of the children who make it an after-school tradition at the bakery’s two cafes.
1423 5th Av., Anoka; 10400 NE. Baltimore St., Blaine, 763-421-4200, hans-bakery.com