A Dozen Weeks of Doughnuts, Week 12: District Doughnut, Breadline and Pupatella

June 12, 2013

Over the past 11 installments, we’ve sampled more than 200 doughnuts. We have journeyed to boutique bakeries, supersize grocery stores and mom-and-pop shops. Now, looking through the doughnut hole, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel — only it’s a little farther away than we originally planned.

We've gotten so many good suggestions from readers for places to try that we decided we couldn’t stop at a mere 12 weeks, so we’re extending the series to one more round beyond today’s. That makes it 13 weeks, or a baker's dozen. That’s not the only news. We also decided to sample from not two, but three spots: a Neapolitan pizzeria in Arlington, a District bakery with pedigreed roots, and a District operation that whisks doughnuts from their fryers to your doorstep.

The dulce de leche doughnut is offered by District doughnut. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)
The dulce de leche doughnut is offered by District doughnut. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)

District Doughnut

This doughnut delivery service (could there be a more wonderful phrase?) has been making drop-offs since October. A dozen flavors are handmade to order by pastry chef Christine Schaefer. There are plans for a bricks-and-mortar location later this year in Washington, but a lease has not been signed.

Address: 571-215-6122, www.districtdoughnut.com.

Hours: Delivery available Mondays through Fridays in the District (two-day notice and three dozen minimum required) and on weekends in the greater D.C. area for catered events.

The lineup: We were able to order a quartet of different doughnuts: brown butter, toasted coconut lime, dulce de leche and caramel apple streusel.

Price: $2.08 each ($25 per dozen; $75 minimum order.)

The look: These were on the smallish side — just 3 inches across — but earned big scores for their pretty presentations. The brown butter sported a zebralike striping of brown butter frosting, the coconut lime was piled high with curlicues of grated coconut, and a mound of crumble topped off the caramel apple streusel. As one judge put it, “Come to Papa!” (Average weight: 2 ounces.)

The coconut lime doughnut is offered by District Doughnut. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)
The coconut lime doughnut is offered by District Doughnut. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)

Price per ounce: 80 cents-$1.60.

How do they taste? We swooned, which helped District Doughnut score the No. 2 spot on the scoreboard. One judge fell hard for the brown butter and immediately wanted to gorge on a half-dozen more; another loved the coffee cake-styled apple streusel. (Average score: 6.7 out of 10.)

Best of the bunch: Dulce de leche. This caramel kiss of a doughnut was our third favorite so far. Even though it was gone in just a few chomps, we savored the sweet filling that recalled dessert in Buenos Aires. (Average score: 7.)

Worst of the bunch: Toasted coconut lime. Not only did the toasted shavings fall off at the first bite, but the citrus flavor was so understated that it was hard to detect. Still, it scored higher than most other shops’ best efforts. (Average score: 6.2.)

Breadline

Bread baker extraordinaire Mark Furstenberg founded this bakery over a decade and a half ago, though he is no longer involved in the operation. Stop by to see the team turn out a variety of baked goods in the showcase kitchen. A selection of sandwiches, pizzas and Italian flatbreads known as piadine fills out the menu.

The sugar raised doughnut is offered by Breadline. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)
The sugar raised doughnut is offered by Breadline. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)

Address: 1751 Pennsylvania Ave. NW; 202-822-8900, www.breadline.com.

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The lineup: There’s just one offering, a sugared raised.

Price: $2.10 each.

The look: This round took on a pleasing caramel hue in the fryer before being rolled in granulated sugar. A simple presentation done well. (Average weight: 4.3 ounces.)

Price per ounce: 49 cents.

How do they taste/Best and worst of the bunch: Given the bakery’s name, we probably shouldn’t have been surprised that the dough had a breadlike quality. Unobjectionable, but nothing that we are running back to eat again anytime soon. (Average score: 4.6.)

Pupatella

When the oak-fired oven isn’t going at full bore, pastry chef Chris Deutsch takes over the kitchen space at this Neapolitan pizzeria. There he whips up goodies for his Hot Hot Bakery food cart, which he operates Tuesdays through Fridays in Arlington. The mobile shop offers croissants, cinnamon rolls, sandwiches and, of course, doughnuts. The last are also sold here alongside Naples-born pizzaiolo Enzo Algarme’s authentic pies.

Address: 5104 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; 571-312-7230, www.pupatella.com.

Hours: Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 9 p.m.

The lineup: There was a trio of treats when we stopped in: vanilla-filled, Nutella-filled and sugared.

The Nutella filled doughnut is offered by Pupatella. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)
The Nutella filled doughnut is offered by Pupatella. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)

Price: $3 each.

The look: These well-portioned pastries earned medium-to-high marks for their dapper appearance. However, they had all spent too long in the fryer. That gave them such a dark mahogany hue that John Boehner looks pale by comparison. (Average weight: 3.5 ounces.)

Price per ounce: 73 cents-$1.11.

How do they taste? The greasiness was distracting, drowning out other flavors and lingering unpleasantly. Runny fillings were equally disruptive, since they gushed out after a single bite. Nonetheless, these were solid enough efforts to draw high scores from two of the judges, which helped them land in the upper middle half of the rankings. (Average score: 4.7 out of 10.)

Best of the bunch: Nutella-filled. Plump and pretty, it was the standout. (Average score: 4.8.)

Worst of the bunch (tie): Sugared and vanilla-filled. A sizable air pocket at the center of the sugared lost it points; the flavorless vanilla cream earned the other some serious demerits. (Average score: 4.6.)

The sugared and vanilla cream filled doughnut is offered by Pupatella. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)
The sugared and vanilla cream filled doughnut is offered by Pupatella. (Photo by Anne Farrar/The Washington Post)

Running totals so far

Overall scores

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken: 6.9

District Doughnut: 6.7

GBD: 6

Woodward Takeout Food: 5.4

Fractured Prune: 5.2

Zeke’s DC Donutz: 5.1*

Breads Unlimited: 5

Pupatella: 4.7

Breadline: 4.6

Woodmoor Pastry Shop: 4.2

Heller’s Bakery: 4.1

Nothing but Donuts and Laurel Tavern Donuts (tie): 4

Shilla Bakery: 3.9

Walls Bakery: 3.8

Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe and Safeway (tie): 3.5

Family Bakery & Mrs. Doughnut and G Street Foods (tie): 3.4

Shoppers Food & Pharmacy and Raulin’s Bakery (tie): 3.3

Krispy Kreme: 3.1

Donut King: 2.4

Dunkin’ Donuts: 2.2

Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts: 2.1

Best doughnuts

Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken creme brulee and PBJ (tie): 8

GBD berry fritter: 7.6

District’s dulce de leche: 7

Zeke’s Ferrero Rocher: 6.7*

Fractured Prune French toast: 6.3

Worst doughnuts

Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts strawberry iced and Donut King strawberry-filled (tie): 1.0

Dunkin’ Donuts toasted coconut: 1.1

Family Bakery & Mrs. Doughnut vanilla-iced with sprinkles: 2

Krispy Kreme glazed raspberry-filled: 2.1

*Temporarily closed.

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Alex Baldinger | June 11, 2013