Brown Sugar Bakeshop

At the onset of 2013, I wrote a brief piece on some of the current food trends sweeping the nation. I’ll admit, it was partially a selfish endeavor as I hoped it would spark some interest in the community and we’d hopefully be able to see some (if not all) of these trends come to pass. Not simply to create a city that’s hopping on every food bandwagon that comes rolling by, but because I felt they were some things that would go over quite well in central Arkansas, and were developments that would definitely add some spice to our local foodscape. None of these trends are as near and dear to me as donuts. I’ve confessed my love for the greasy, fried dough rings before…many times. But there are some really spectacular things going on in the donut world—the breakfast pastry is no longer relegated only to the quick and easy boardroom breakfast, or the late night stakeout staple. Donuts are finally getting a touch of refinement and class. So where do we sit in Arkansas? We’ve got a ways to go, but here are a few places that only recently have decided to boast a more elegant selection of donuts:

Brown Sugar Bakeshop

Brown Sugar Bakeshop: If you’re a sugar junkie, do yourself a favor and key an eye on Brown Sugar’s Facebook and Twitter feeds. They’re constantly experimenting in the kitchen with new baked goods and innovative flavor combinations…often managing to produce products I’ve never seen or heard of anywhere before. Recently, Brown Sugar decided to try their hands at donuts. However, operating without a fryer was a bit of a problem. They decided to create a series of “baked donuts,” and dressed them with traditional or unexpected toppings. Before you cry “blasphemy” at the thought of baked donuts, it’s actually not an entirely new concept. Several West Coast bakeries (I assume in an attempt to help their clients maintain their bikini-season figures) have been serving baked donuts (or “faux-nuts”) for some time. Brown Sugar’s version is reminiscent of cinnamon roll dough—a bit chewy but light and sweet. They are made better after a short stint in the microwave, the added heat working to soften the pastry a bit. I sampled a luscious, bright red velvet donut with cream cheese icing and pecans, a sugar and cinnamon crusted donut, and a “turtle” donut with chocolate, caramel, and pecans…just to name a few. The bakeshop would eventually like to install a fryer, but they’re working up a new recipe to roll out a fresh batch of donuts in the near future. They’ve tentatively promised a maple-bacon donut and a strawberry-Meyer lemon—keep an eye out for these in the upcoming weeks.

White Water Tavern

  • Jonathon Wilkins
  • White Water Tavern

White Water Tavern: If you’ve even gotten a sniff of this blog or The Times recently, you probably know all about the wonderful kitchen wizardry going on at White Water Tavern. Currently, they are offering brunch on the last Sunday of every month…and guess who’s showing up to this party? Yep, donuts. Fancy, fantastic donuts. One brunch saw a decadent duo of donuts on the table: a lovely maple bacon donut and a lemon curd-stuffed donut. Most recently, brunch featured “Mexican hot chocolate” donuts, fried cake donuts dusted with cinnamon, cayenne, and Abuleita (a Mexican powdered chocolate), topped with dried chilies. May want to have a glass of milk on standby with that one.

The Southern Gourmasian: And lastly, a truck that never ceases to amaze, The Southern Gourmasian continues to offer their uniquely Asian spin on classic Southern American treats. In this case, the ever-popular apple fritter gets tweaked just a bit on the food truck’s breakfast menu. Justin and the boys are taking bits of doughnut batter and spiking them with sweetened, chopped apple and just a touch of spicy ginger. This is dipped in the hot fryer until the dough puffs up and crisps to a golden brown—the hot fried dough is finished with a drizzle on caramel infused with slightly salty Japanese miso. They may only be doing one doughnut at Gourmasian, but when its sole offering is this good, one is all you need.

Will we be seeing more upscale donuts in the near future? I sure hope so. I know there are some who are generally against the fancification of the traditionally simple, inexpensive foods we are used to. But I’m a proponent of the modern donut revolution—it’s a movement that I hope continues to swell within central Arkansas.