We’re eating our way through area bakeries, two at a time, on a quest to find the best doughnut in the Washington area. In our first two weeks we sampled from two old-school bakeries, a hip newcomer and an Asian-fusion mini-chain. In Week 3, we turn our attention to a downtown bakery attached to a restaurant and a national chain known for enticing customers with its “Hot Now” sign.
Woodward Takeout Food
Part deli and part bakery, WTF is the companion piece to Woodward Table, next door. Chef-owner Jeffrey Buben lets pastry chef Beverly Bates show off her considerable skills here, so the counters and cases brim with her deftly executed breads and confections. There’s an emphasis on home-style comfort, so highlights include palm-size cookies, flaky biscuits and a lemon square so soft that we ate it with a spoon.
Address: 1426 H St. NW. 202-347-5355, www.woodwardtable.com.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m; Saturdays 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The lineup: Though there are plenty of baked goods in general to choose from here, there are only two doughnuts: a plain glazed and a Berliner filled with house-made mixed-berry jam.
Price: $1.75 per doughnut.
The look: These darling doughnuts were made with precision and love. The Berliner is lightly sprinkled with just enough confectioners’ sugar, while the glazed comes crowned with a bonus doughnut hole that brought smiles to the judges’ faces. (Average weight: 4.1 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 39-47 cents.
How do they taste? There’s a pleasing hint of nutmeg in the glazed, which elevates it above your average doughnut. The spongy Berliner was slightly over-fried, but the just-sweet-enough jam made that easy to overlook. This winning work helps WTF take the lead over Zeke’s as our favorite doughnuts overall so far. (Average score: 5.4 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: The judges were split down the middle, giving both pastries high marks. It would be a pleasure to eat either one of these doughnuts again. (Average score: 5.4, enough to send them to second place on our list of individual favorites.)
Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., in 1937, this chain now has locations across the world. Its premiere product is its glazed doughnut, though there are plenty of other flavors, including limited-edition specials such as the Oreo-themed options we tried. The best time to visit is when the doughnuts are "Hot Now,” so you can be guaranteed to get one of their best-in-show glazed rounds straight off the conveyor belt.
Address: 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-463-0414. www.krispykreme.com.
Hours: Mondays through Thursdays 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fridays from 6 a.m. through to Sundays at 11 p.m.
The lineup: There were just over a dozen doughnuts on hand when we stopped in, including their classic glazed, chocolate iced glazed, chocolate iced with sprinkles, chocolate-iced kreme-filled, chocolate-iced custard-filled, cinnamon-apple-filled, glazed
lemon-filled, dulce de leche-filled, glazed raspberry-filled, powdered strawberry-filled, glazed chocolate cake doughnut with Oreo topping, and glazed filled with Oreo cream and topped with chocolate frosting and crumbled Oreos.
Price: 99 cents-$1.09 per doughnut. (Plain glazed $7.29 a dozen; assorted varieties $8.29 a dozen.)
The look: The judges gave low-to-middling marks to these doughnuts for their uneven appearance. (Average weight: 2.8 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 31-62 cents.
How do they taste? Dreadfully disappointing, Krispy Kreme is an early leader for our least-favorite doughnuts. The dulce de leche was singled out for its chemical aftertaste, the Oreo cake doughnut was dubbed a hot mess by one judge, and the cinnamon apple filling was a goopy gelatinous ectoplasm that wouldn’t have been out of place in “Ghostbusters.” (Average score: 3.1 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: Regular glazed and chocolate glazed. If you want satisfaction, stick to the basics here. (Average score: 3.7.)
Worst of the bunch: Glazed raspberry-filled. The bright red filling tasted like a Jolly Rancher on steroids or — as one judge put it — “really gross,” making it our least-liked doughnut so far. (Average score: 2.1.)
The running totals so far:
Woodward Takeout Food: 5.4
Zeke’s DC Donutz: 5.1
Heller’s Bakery: 4.1
Shilla Bakery: 3.9
Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe: 3.5
Krispy Kreme: 3.1
Zeke’s Ferrero Rocher: 6.7
WTF Berliner and WTF glazed (tie): 5.4
Heller’s glazed twist and Heidelberg sugar w/apricot (tie): 4.9
Krispy Kreme glazed raspberry filled: 2.1
Heidelberg glazed cruller: 2.3
Zeke’s Sexy Mexy: 2.4
Heller’s chocolate frosted with sprinkles, Heller’s glazed with sprinkles and Shilla plain with red bean (tie): 3.4