May 2020
Donut from Pestka's Bakery, Strathalbyn

There is something wonderful about the standard ol’ Australian bakery; they are wholesome, family-run establishments that unite a community. This blog came from my passion for donuts, as well as the motivation to help promote these local South Australian businesses. It became a pet project between myself and my husband, providing us an opportunity to explore South Australia whilst stuffing our faces with donuts along the way.

Back in 2014, when I first came to Australia, my good friend made it her mission to show me around. We travelled into the hills, through the wine regions, and strolled many beaches. On our journeys, we would always stop at the nearest bakery for refreshment and energy.  One such adventure took us to Strathalbyn to visit the antique stores. Picking a bakery at random I grabbed a donut to enjoy in the winter sun.

Pestka's Bakery, Strathablyn
Pestka’s Bakery,
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That donut, from Pestka’s Bakery in Strathalbyn, was the best donut I had eaten in my entire life. The dough, texture and icing was perfection. I couldn’t believe what a gem we had stumbled upon.

Years later, I still held this donut in high esteem, as my Holey Grail. One taste, many years ago, held my memory and my heart.

The problem with memories is if you try and recreate them, that can lead to disappointment. Especially now that I critique donuts, rather than simply enjoy them, I grew scared to go back to Pestka’s. What if their donut didn’t live up to my memory and expectation? My Holey Grail would be shattered.

However, one must face their fears. So, on a fine summers day, we found ourselves headed to Strathalbyn for the sole purpose of rating this donut for the blog. A lot rode on this trip but we had to make that gamble. If we didn’t try Pestka’s donut –and it really was the Holey Grail – we could be depriving the world of an excellent donut. If it was horrible – and years of donut idolisation was broken – the mission would continue.

I’ll give it away now; I loved the donut. My husband wasn’t so sure. Was it the Holey Grail? For me – yes. However, I have to admit the aesthetics really let it down.

Whether it’s your Holey Grail, or only mine, Strathalbyn is a beautiful location. It is filled with lovely parks, charming buildings and interesting shops. Worth a little visit any day, with a stop for a donut along the way.

Aesthetics 5

The donut played a lopsided game, leaning dangerously to one side as if it were a sprinkled Tower of Pisa. As the dough leaned, the icing went with it. The hole in the middle was overcome by fluffy white icing, the dough dulled to a light golden colour. The bright sprinkles looked muted on an ice-white background.

Topping 10

In my humble opinion, whoever thought to put fluffy, delicious, light buttercream-style icing on a donut is a genius. Apparently, it's the same icing as on some finger buns – so I would encourage more bakeries to get on board! It is so much better than the thick crust of icing sugar most donuts have nowadays. The icing to dough proportion was perfect. The sprinkles were fresh and crunchy. The flavour was wonderful. My mind drools thinking about this topping.

Dough 9

Another wonderfully flavoured component, the dough was yeasty and fresh. It had a great balance of sweetness to saltiness. The only slight hitch was that the oil covering the donut could be tasted, and although the oil wasn't stale or badly flavoured, it distracted one slightly from the deliciousness of the dough. None-the-less, the dough was a worthy base to the sensational icing.

Texture 9.5

The texture was sublime. The dough was fresh, chewy and soft in all the right places. The icing was fluffy, well proportioned and topped with crunchy sprinkles. The only thing stopping this texture rating a "10" was that the dough had no outer crunch, but was as soft as its innards. I recognise, however, that mastering a crunchy outer shell with a soft and yet chewy inside is a difficult task.



Heavenly Delight

They say to not judge a donut by its cover, and here is a prime example. This donut would have climbed its way to Number One of our Top 10 ladder, had it not been on the ugly side. But the flavours and textures were well executed, well portioned and delicious. My husband disagrees with my ratings, I don't know if this donut even makes it into his Top 10, but for me, the icing and texture elevated Pestka's into donut stratosphere.

  • Aesthetics: 5
  • Topping: 10
  • Dough: 9
  • Texture: 9.5

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