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The 8th Annual Tour de Donut: Champions

September 5, 2017

We’re going donut picking, again. Maybe for the very last time. The next Tour de Cider Donut is just days away, and it’s going to be a doozy. Because this year is the tournament of past champions.

Those who are good at math and familiar with the structure of these tours will see a problem straight away. Over the years, we’ve declared seven winners, but we are only going to make five stops on the tour.

The solution is pretty simple.

One place is simply too far afield, and only made the third annual tour because I was still relatively new to the area and bad at reading maps. Hicks Orchard is excellent. But that’s Lake George, and I made a promise that I would never ask anyone else to drive up there again.

The other place is just too damn good, so Cider Belly is getting a bye into the finals. The city doughnut shop that does little else besides think about how to perfect apple cider doughnuts all day every day will ultimately go head-to-head with the winner of this final trek through the countryside.

Now, those who are unfamiliar with the Fussy Little Tours or the annual Tour de Cider Donut may be scratching their heads. Here’s the important thing. This Saturday, September 9, we’re heading into the wilderness to eat five of the best apple cider donuts in the region. And everyone is invited.

Let’s back this up a bit.

Upstate New York is in the heart of apple country. Those might be fighting words for our friends in Washington State, and they may have a point in terms of tonnage. But in the fall, I can’t imagine a better place to be than the Capital Region. There are orchards and country stores all over the place, and most of them sell apple cider donuts.

These are a quintessential treat of fall. Ideally they are hot, with a crisp sugared crust, a moist tender crumb, and redolent of apple cider. The only problem is that most people go to the same place year after year. And that’s fine. Family traditions are important and meaningful things, so I’m not going to try and change your rituals of the season.

However, there is a greater diversity in apple cider donuts than most people realize.

As a regional food lover, I am curious to know which orchard, or bakery, or farm stand makes the very best one. So, to answer that question, these Fussy Little Tours were born back in 2010. Since then the FLB has led intrepid groups of eaters around the region in search of tasty treasures.

In the fall, we have always returned to apple cider donuts. I never imagined that we would visit 35 unique cider doughnut makers. Unfortunately, there are a few more that fell through the cracks. So I can’t say that we’ve tried them all. But I am confident that we have tried all the apple cider donuts of note.

Now, it’s time to look back on the past winners, and visit five of them in a single day, to put the victors head-to-head against each other. Let’s review them real quickly.

1st Annual Tour: Local favorites in the heart of the region
Indian Ladder Farm edged out Altamont Orchards, Bowman, Lakeside, and Fo Castle.

2nd Annual Tour: Cider donuts east of the Hudson tidal estuary
Golden Harvest beat Zachary’s, Goold’s, Samascott Orchards, and LoveApple Farm.

3rd Annual Tour: Cider donuts further upstate
Hicks triumphed over Liberty Ridge, Saratoga Apple, Reggie’s Farm, and Sutton’s Market.

4th Annual Tour: Cider donuts off the beaten path
The Carrot Barn eclipsed Lindsey’s, Devoe’s, Riverview, and Gade Farm.

5th Annual Tour: Cider donuts at bakeries late in the season
Cider Belly bested Schuyler Bakery, Bella Napoli, Yonder Farms, and Kristy’s Barn.

6th Annual Tour: Cider donuts on the western front
Terrace Mountain won against Lake View, Rogers, Sand Flats, and Bellingers.

7th Annual Tour: Cider donuts from Broadalbin to Schaghticoke
Smiths surprised Eagle Mills, Sunnyside Gardens, Malta Ridge, and Bordens.

The learnings from past tours, dictate exactly how the day should play out. When embarking on a day where you plan to eat five cider donuts, it’s wise to front load the eating, and back load the driving.

While five cider donuts may not seem like that many, after that third donut, you’ll be thankful for a slightly longer drive. And while there may be a bit more driving than typical in this tour that spans the length and breadth of the region, we’ll end at the orchard with a distillery.

Here’s the plan.

We’re going to meet at 10:30 am on Saturday, September 9 at Terrace Mountain Orchard. There must be something about the water in the Schoharie Valley, because it’s the home of two different apple cider donut makers from two different tours. The odds of that are small indeed.

So the drive from Terrace Mountain to The Carrot Barn is a mere 9 minutes. And that’s fine for the first two stops of the tour. In fact, that’s great. Because it will feel like an event. Plus attendees who have never scored a tour before, will have the taste of the first donut on their lips when evaluating the second donuts.

Indian Ladder Farms is a picturesque 27 minute drive to the east, putting this beloved fall donut stop in the middle of the tour.

Smith’s Orchard is a bit further away, and it’s due north. We’ll be in the car for 46 minutes. But it should be worth it. This country bakery in Ballston Spa completely stole the show last year.

Finally, it’s off to Golden Harvest Farms, and we’ll have to cross to rivers to get there. As promised, we’re back loading the driving. There’s no way to sugar coat a 57 minute drive, except to say that not only will we arrive at the best apple cider donut I’ve found east of the Hudson, but we’ll also be right at Harvest Spirits distillery.

All told, that’s 2 hours and 21 minutes worth of driving. So, you should bring some friends and carpool. Part of the fun of these outings are the drives through the country. And while our last leg involves a bit of highway, how you get back home is between you and Google Maps.

I hope you can join me.
Don’t be shy. Seriously.
Everyone is welcome.
I mean it.
Please consider this a personal invitation.

For those who have never been on one of these tours before, here’s how it’s going to work.

I’ll ask for $4 from everyone to cover the cost of the day’s donuts, and in exchange I’ll give you a scoresheet. I’ll go into the bakery and ask for our donuts. I’ll ask for hot ones. Maybe they will give them to us, maybe they won’t. But I will not be asking for special treatment. The idea is to try the donuts that anyone can get, not just the ones for bloggers who are going to be judging them against their local competitors.

These tours are always a lot of fun. That’s why I continue to organize them. But they are also exhausting, which is why I only do four of them a year. You may want to bring a thermos of coffee. In the end, I promise you will have a deeper appreciation of the apple cider donut, a better understanding about what makes a truly stunning one, and a newfound knowledge of what spot is your favorite from the prior champions.

Never been on a tour? The Tour de Donut is a great one to start with.
Just a blog lurker? This is a great chance to come out of the shadows.
Never read the blog? That’s cool. Life is busy. Just come and eat donuts.
Want to bring your friends? Sure.
Want to come alone? No problem.

Bring kids.
Bring cameras.
But whatever you do, please don’t forget to bring a pen.

I just ask that you let me know if you plan on attending so I can make sure to have enough scoresheets on hand, and so we don’t head off without you. If you want to come for just a few stops that’s fine too. However, only fully completed scoresheets will be used to determine which of these donuts is the best of the five.

Hope to see you there.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 5, 2017 10:31 am

    Put me down for two.

  2. Lydia permalink
    September 5, 2017 5:17 pm

    Two Kulbidas finally making a Tour! (semi empty nesters)

  3. September 5, 2017 6:49 pm

    Two (and a toddler) more a- coming!

  4. September 5, 2017 8:16 pm

    Three score sheets for the Steve N. crew.

  5. September 8, 2017 5:54 pm

    Alas, the Burnt My Fingers team must cancel so I hereby release our scoresheets. Enjoy!

  6. Katie permalink
    September 8, 2017 10:53 pm

    Three including me! 🍎 🍺 🍩


  1. Official Review of the Best Cider Donuts in Upstate New York – Two Buttons Deep

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