Since hearing about Carter Doughnuts a few months ago, Ive tried several times to purchase them at the designated retail stores, but with little luck. On Tuesday I tried once more, stopping at Olivers Market in Santa Rosa around 9:30am, and eureka!!! This time I hit the mother lode. Over by the espresso station, seven different kinds were on display. Naturally, I had to get one of each, priced at $1.29 apiece.
For breakfast consumed in the car, I grabbed the chocolate cake donut out of the box. These babies feel different with more density and extra weight in the hand. Theyre heavier, and when you bite into them, while tender, they have a certain resilience. Fried without transfats, the outer layer is softer and doesnt have that fresh donut crispness nor the oily film. Even though they feel like they weigh more, theres a refined lightness in texture that makes them seem buoyant and springy. The crumb is very fine and moist, and practically levitates in the mouth, much like a well-made genoise can. The chocolate glaze is brittle and flakes off, an artifact of the organic sugar, Im told. The complex chocolate tones of the mocha-colored cake are marvelously bittersweet with a hint of spice, reminding me of Mexican chocolate.
I brought the rest of them to our Korean chow dinner in Oakland for a spot of dessert. Cutting them into six pieces, I noted again the unusual firmness and resistance to the blade that was so different from the soft, near crumbly texture of a conventional donut. We tried:
Apple and ginger-filled
Powder sugar cake
Glazed old fashion buttermilk
Accustomed to the cornstarch-glossy canned pie filling of most apple-filled products, the fresh apple compote spiked with fresh ginger in the filled donut was a pleasant discovery. Alexandras favorite was the dense and heavy old fashioned. I was really taken with the two cake donuts, as well as the earlier chocolate one. This is somewhat surprising since I dislike conventional cake donuts, finding them too metallic, dry and boring compared to yeast-raised. Conversely, I felt the glazed raise was the weakest of the offerings, as well as the cinnamon sugar raised I heated up for my breakfast the following morning. They seemed blockish and heavy to me.
Other observations around the table were that the texture is airy and dense at the same time in a puzzling way. Also these are far less sweet and oily than conventional product. Ruth said that they dont offer the same fatty, sugary satisfaction as a regular donut but are more like a fine cake product.
Distribution is still restricted to a limited number of stores in Sonoma County. In addition to those listed in the press release linked below, theyre also available at the Whole Foods markets in Sebastopol and Petaluma. Special orders for larger quantities or certain varieties can be placed directly with Carter for pick-up at one of the designated retailers.