Donut or Doughnut? A Guide to The Best In London

By Jo McCarthy

Are you like me? When I'm about to scoff a baked good, I don't worry about the details of whether I'm munching on a donut or a doughnut.

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Does it taste amazing? Do I have sugar all around my mouth? Have I just discovered the scrummiest baked goods since I don't know when?

These are more important issues for me. However, I need to decide early on how I am going to spell the most important word of the piece and I choose doughnut! Homer will be proud!

Doughnuts are most definitely having a moment. We have nibbled our way around London to bring you our guide to the very best fresh doughnuts in London - please do share any that we haven't discovered yet! 

 BOROUGH 22 - AWARD-WINNING, FREE-FROM DOUGHNUTS

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Established in South London by Ryan Panchoo, the Borough 22 bakery was recently featured in the Hoxton Mini Press book entitled 'Start-Up London' which celebrates entrepreneurs and new creative businesses in the capital - quite an achievement considering Borough 22 has only been in business for a few years!

The vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free (in fact top 14 allergen free) but definitely not taste-free doughnuts made by the Borough 22 team are as photogenic as they are tasty - follow them on Instagram @Borough22 to get your daily fix of their creations. Ryan sources the best ingredients for his doughnuts - hibiscus is my favourite - closely followed by the classic jam and sugar. 

Ryan is happily hectic this summer with pop-ups, doughnut walls for weddings and keeping his growing list of stockists happy. If you can't make it to one of these locations, Borough 22 deliver and most of the flavours freeze well.  

Top Tip - So many people with food restrictions have discovered Borough 22 and are rejoicing at feasting on their first real doughnuts in years! Treat someone special to a Borough 22 Gift Card, redeemable against any order. You'd really be rather popular! See the website for more details and make someone smile. 

DOUGHNUT TIME - PRICY BUT WORTH IT

With bright, neon locations popping up across London, Doughnut Time is on a roll. The Mega doughnut is taking over the Doughnut Time Instagram and I must admit, I want in on that. Build Me Up Buttercup has also got me drooling - chocolate glaze, topped with peanut butter, and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups! I am not sure who at Doughnut Time makes up the names for their gooey creations, but I want in on that too. 

Top Tip: Sign up for the Doughnut Time Academy to learn how to make your very own artisan, hand-glazed doughnuts. The course costs £80 and you will learn how to make the 4 original Doughnut Time recipes, as well as taking home a rather swanky apron. 

BREAD AHEAD  - A BOROUGH MARKET FAVOURITE

The Bread Ahead vanilla-filled doughnuts have a cult following, with tourist and locals clambering to get their bites. These are definitely the kind of squidgy, oven-fresh doughnuts that you want to eat in private and devour, licking your lips without judgement. You can get your fix at Borough Market, or head to Soho where a new location has opened on Beak Street. Visit their website to find the permanent and seasonal locations. 

Top Tip - Fast-track your baking skills by watching the videos on the Bread Ahead TV site. The Shaping doughnuts video will have you 'poised like a puma'; you'll in competition with Bread Ahead in no time. 

CROSSTOWN DOUGHNUTS - BEST DOUGHNUTS IN SOHO

Since launching as a market stall on Leather Lane in 2014, Crosstown Doughnuts can now be found across London, including the flagship store in Soho and 'Dorothy' the donut truck in Spitalfields. Crosstown roll their handmade doughnuts every day of the year and offer mail order if you aren't able to get to a store. The flavours are sensational - Limoncello with a full shot of Pococelli within the custard filling and an Amalfi lemon zest crumble on top. 

ST JOHN'S BAKERY, BERMONDSEY - BEST JAM DOUGHNUTS IN LONDON

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You will have to be determined to get your hands on one of St John's delicious doughnuts as the bakery on Druid Street is only open at weekends. Check the website for information about other locations as it's worth the effort to get these classic doughnuts oozing with flavour. The jam flavours include seasonal treats such as peach, apple compote, rhubarb, raspberry, apricot, and are often combined with Chantilly creme. These are rather special doughnuts! 

Top Tip - Look out for pop-ups around London by subscribing to the St John's Bakery newsletter. 

PAUL BAKERY - BEST BEIGNETS IN CENTRAL LONDON

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There are a few different ways to make beignets. The French like them to be square, served hot with with powdered sugar sifted on top. In New Orleans they are served for brekkie, which is a tradition I could get behind; in 1986 they were declared to be the official state doughnut of Louisiana! Although London has some great Southern food eateries (come back to us Decatur!) for me, the mini chocolate beignets at Paul's are some of the best.

They are found on the breakfast menu - like I said, it's traditional! These are the perfect pick-me-ups to take back to the office and munch with a cup of coffee and since there are cafes all over London you're never far away from your beignet fix.

Top Tip - PAUL Bakery delivers to all London postcodes and has a loyalty card and corporate accounts. Really, you can't avoid these beignets.  

So tell us, where do you go in London for your doughnut fix?