Designer doughnuts latest foodie trend to take Canada

Mac n’ cheese, meatballs, cupcakes and now doughnuts — all things humble and homey are getting that haute cuisine makeover in restaurant kitchens.

Designer doughnuts are on the rise across North America, with some of the most creative Canadian chefs topping doughnuts with minty mojito icing, filling peanut butter beignets with mashed bananas, glazing doughnuts with sticky toffee and chopped bacon and even serving sweet doughnuts with slices of seared foie gras.

While Americans are in the lead when it comes to the designer doughnut (or donut) trend, Canadians may be even more obsessed with their sweet deep-fried snacks. Some have dubbed the doughnut Canada’s unofficial national food.

“Now, of course, I know that they’re not created here; but they’ve been perfected here,” writes Steve Penfold in The Donut: A Canadian History, “and it’s part of our national identity.”

In fact, it’s easier to get a Timbit than a Big Mac in Canada. The popular Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut empire — founded in Hamilton, ON, in 1964 by NHL hockey player Tim Horton — has over 3,000 shops across the country, more locations than McDonald’s.

On the designer side, Canadian chefs are relatively conservative when it comes to their gourmet doughnuts. Lee’s Donuts at Granville Island Public Market are old-fashioned favourites in Vancouver, BC. Toronto, ON, chef Marc Thuet makes classic beignets at Petite Thuet, and in Montréal, QC, fine Polish doughnuts (pączki), filled with apricots or prunes, from Pâtisserie Wawelare popular. Prince Edward Island-based TV chef Michael Smith tosses freshly fried doughnuts with sugar and cinnamon, and food writer Lucy Waverman makes bread pudding with doughnuts.

Toronto chef Jamie Kennedy got creative, offering local Perth Pork fricassee, made with apple cider and cream, atop a yeast-raised potato-and-apple doughnut. The hip Drake Hotel is known for its classic coconut-cream crullers; Calgary, AB‘s CHARCUT once offered baby bombolone (Italian dougnuts) oozing homemade chocolate hazelnut paste — no longer on the menu, but memorable.

Jason Parsons, the chef at Peller Estates Winery Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, really took the cake with his riff on the Timbit — sage-and-feuilletine-crusted foie gras doughnuts with mushroom-and-white chocolate cappuccino — to be paired with an icewine couvée.

While we still love those basic “glazeds” and long johns from Timmie Ho’s, there’s always room for creativity. The hottest new ice cream flavour from Alberta-based MacKay’s Cochrane Ice Cream is “mini doughnut” — that classic summer midway aroma and flavour in a cone available only during the Stampede in Calgary.

Read more about Canadian cuisine.

courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

Photo © Liz Van Steenburgh