The cold winter has not let up over the past few weeks, blustery winds and miserable mornings reminding us that spring is still a while off. However, midway through the week the clouds parted, letting rays of beautiful, warm light through. Taking the opportunity of sunshine, an afternoon off, and a much-needed catch up with friends, we opted to head to Pat-a-Cake Bakery on Duthy Street.
Nabbing one of the few remaining tables outside, my friends and I enjoyed the sun on our faces. As we awaited our coffees, we began to discuss the process of reviewing donuts. I’ve been surprised how many people wonder how I go about this donut blog. Pleased to have some new companions to participate in the proceedings, I walked them through step-by-step.
Firstly, one must choose the donut. Sometimes, there is only one donut that meets the blog criteria at which point this step is made easy. This was the case at Pat-A-Cake with a single, pink and sprinkled donut among a sea of plain chocolate ones (sans-sprinkles).
The next step is photographs – perhaps for me, the most painstaking and embarrassing part. Not one to be big on social media – and as someone who in the past has looked down on those who Insta-food their meal – I am now required to take photos of not only the café, and the donut for the website, but also about a hundred snaps of the donut in different positions for Instagram and Facebook. I can become very self-conscious throughout the process as strangers stare on and subsequently have hundreds of pictures of donuts on my phone, hastily snapped, and half blurry.
Once the pictures have been taken, then and only then, are you allowed to start eating. It’s a process that can take discipline, especially as sometimes you just want to devour the donut whole! But oh no, one must take their time – savouring and commenting on the four aspects of the donut which is foundational for this blog.
The first rating, aesthetics, is fairly straightforward. Look at the dough, the topping, the proportions and dimensions. I tend to comment on any glaringly obvious discrepancies, noting them down on my phone as I examine the donut from all angles. Secondly, I focus in on the topping. Taking a pinch of icing and sprinkles I taste the topping on its own – fully appreciating its flavour and texture. I note the icing thickness, the freshness, and usually comment negatively on the fake chocolate or berry flavour they’ve used to supplement the sugar it’s made from. Having cleansed my palate from the icing’s sweetness, I then move on to the third rating: dough. The dough can usually be a hit or miss, particularly if the donut is not fresh. But usually one can comment on the yeast, if it is sweet versus savoury, or if the taste of the oil has come through. Finally, but definitely not least, is a comment on the texture. This involves a bite of the donut as a whole, to get the texture of the topping and dough as one – but then remembering the individual textures as you describe it in the rating. Usually, I look for a fresh donut, not dried out, with a bit of chewiness to the dough and a thick, fluffy icing with a crunchy topping and outer dough shell. Ultimately, I think the quality of the donut will come down to its texture.
My friends watched as I went through this process, pausing to write down my comments between nibbles. The donut, despite being pink, was surprisingly fresh and delicious – a real delight to have. I understood from the server at the counter that the donuts weren’t made in store – but even so, a good choice of donut to sell. It was a pleasant afternoon with a delicious afternoon treat.