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Donut Discovery

April 13, 2010

I have a long and checkered past with donuts.  Let’s just say for now that there were a couple of years in college, and probably a little while after graduation, when I would not even consider eating a donut.  But I do love them.

Here in Albany, early on I was convinced there had to be a good place to get donuts, besides the omnipresent Dunkin’ Donuts.

Perhaps it is the rosy glow from my youth, but I remember Dunkin’ Donuts being better.  At least in Miami when I was growing up, the donuts were made in the store where they were sold.  These days the donuts are made in central kitchens and trucked out to the stores.  Clearly someone in corporate headquarters doesn’t think it makes a heck of a lot of difference, but I steadfastly disagree.

Dunkin’ Donuts donuts are just not very good.

And as luck would have it, after a couple of years living in the region, the family and I finally stumbled upon our favorite donut maker, Bella Napoli in Troy.  Still, as much as we loved their donuts, there was one critical flaw—their glaze is weak.

In this case, I mean weak both as a pejorative and as a description of its actual strength.  A good strong glaze creates a brittle yet toothsome barrier between the actual donut and your pie hole.  The glaze will crackle under your touch, it will stick to your fingers, and you can feel it on your teeth.

Bella Napoli’s glaze does none of this.  They use a very weak glaze.

Thanks to the good folks at All Over Albany, my donut problem has been solved.  They published a piece on the donut shops of the region and there was one in particular that caught my eye: The Cookie Factory.

I had been to the Cookie Factory in the past, and tried their cookies and pastries.  It’s not that they were bad, but they just weren’t good enough to justify a return trip.  Which oddly is analogous to my experience with Bella Napoli.  Seriously, who would imagine the best donuts I’ve had out here would come from an Italian bakery and a place that would seemingly put mediocre cookies up on the marquee ahead of their stunningly good yeast-raised donuts.

At the Cookie Factory, the donuts aren’t even out for display.  They are tucked away on a rack behind the counter.  There are no labels on the trays identifying the different varieties.  And if you didn’t know they had them, you might completely miss out.

A dozen donuts set me back a mere $5.95, which is less than two fancy cupcakes elsewhere.  I got three glazed, three double-dipped, three Boston cream, a powdered jelly, an iced jelly and a chocolate frosted.  The glazed were hands down the winner of the batch.

In my eyes, they even beat out the glazed from Schuyler bakery which had been the reigning champion of the form in the Fussy household.  It has been a while since we have brought in from Schuyler and Mrs. Fussy is holding onto the bakery’s glazed donut supremacy.  There they use a good strong glaze, but I contend that the donut itself isn’t nearly as light and tender.  Although to be fair, I have yet to put the two donuts up head to head.  Surely it is just a matter of time.

Because I’m crazy like that.

Case in point: after discovering the Cookie Factory only sold yeast raised donuts, I picked up a half dozen cake donuts from Bella Napoli on my way home.  I think the six donuts came to $4.50.

It’s hard to remember, because later that day I slipped into a bit of a sugar coma, while I was supposed to be watching the kid.  But how angry can you be at the guy who brings home all those wonderful, tasty treats.

I am sure there are more undiscovered donut treasures out there.  But I tell you, they will be harder and harder for me to find, because I am very happy with my two bakeries in Troy.

And don’t forget, only 10 more days to vote in the Times Union Best of the Capital Region poll.  Here is the ballot that I have submitted, for your consideration.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. wendalicious permalink
    April 13, 2010 10:31 am

    I guess I have yet to experience a really good donut, since I’ve only had them at Dunkin’ and at Price Chopper (egads). I wonder if anyplace in Schenectady has good donuts, because I’d love to try some, and I’m here all the time anyway.

    I know they are not technically donuts, but I am of the opinion that beignets are far superior to any donuts you could bring me. Especially when they are direct from Cafe du Monde and served with a cup of chicory coffee….heaven.

  2. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    April 13, 2010 10:32 am

    Now this is one of the few things I never ever eat: refined sugar, refined starch, heavy fat–the very worst!

  3. Jess permalink
    April 13, 2010 11:01 am

    Daniel, Try Duncan’s Dairy Bar in Troy. Out Rt. 7 just until you start to see trees again, on the right. Their donuts are HUGE and baked in house, along with everything else including the rolls they use for burgers and sandwiches.

    It’s the ultimate in greasy spoons and they make a darn good donut. Although, you may find their glaze on the “weak” side.

    They open early and are closed by 2 p.m.

  4. James permalink
    April 13, 2010 11:26 am

    I agree that a visit to Duncan’s is a great idea but their cinnamon rolls grilled, with butter, are a far better indulgence than their donuts. In addition, their farm fresh milk and eggs make it the best place to get breakfast in Troy. They do get very crowded on weekends though.

    For me, it’s all about the double dipped donuts at Cookie Factory. Extra glaze and delicious cinnamon crunch put them over the top.

  5. April 14, 2010 9:48 am

    Ever since a friend described donuts to me as “sugar fried in fat,” I’ve not been able to enjoy them with any sense of abandonment. Except for still-warm cider donuts at Schnare’s Sunset Orchard in Greene County, that is. Thank goodness that eating donuts and fresh picked apples together cancels out the fat calories. That’s how it works, right?

  6. Annie permalink
    April 14, 2010 4:31 pm

    And next visit to NYC, we’ll have to get you to the Donut Plant.

  7. Ellen Whitby permalink
    April 14, 2010 5:47 pm

    What kind of a coma did the kid fall into? And did he land on anything with his melted chocolate hands?

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