We’re going out in a glaze of glory. A dozen weeks of doughnuts wasn’t enough for us, so we decided to make it a baker’s dozen, and this is the last installment of the preliminary rounds. (Next week: Our grand finale crowns Washington’s best doughnut.) Over the past 12 weeks, we’ve visited doughnut shops of seemingly every size and shape, including boutique bakeries and gourmet patisseries, mega-marts and national chains. This week we stop by a family-run farm market in Clinton, then track down a fry-to-order wheeled wonder in Arlington.
Mama’s Donut Bites
Three years ago, this operation’s founder, Janette “Mama” Hosein, was laid off from her job in the mortgage industry. She had spent a year hunting for employment when her daughter, Elaine, decided to help her forge a new career. The duo began selling miniature doughnuts at farmers markets in Northern Virginia. Mama’s son, Rod, joined the operation this past February, when they invested in a food truck. The mobile eatery offers a rotating menu of cider, red velvet, blueberry, dark chocolate and pumpkin spice doughnuts. You can deck out your petite pastries at the toppings bar, which features homemade goodies such as cinnamon-spiced whipped cream, raspberry preserves, cream cheese frosting and caramel syrup.
Address: 703-203-4816, various locations in Northern Virginia, www.twitter.com/MamasDonutBites.
Hours: Tuesdays through Fridays, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 8 a.m. to noon. (Hours are approximate).
The lineup: The day we hit up the princess-pink truck, they were frying mini apple cider doughnuts.
Price: $5 for a dozen.
The look: A dozen baby bangles rolled in cinnamon sugar were dropped into a white paper bag. For this judge, they evoked fond memories of pilgrimages to the apple orchard in the fall. All that was missing was a plastic cup of freshly pressed cider. (Average weight: 0.6 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 70 cents.
How do they taste/best and worst of the bunch: Apple cider. These pillowy two-bite delights were impossible to resist. If we took a bag of them to the movies, they’d be finished before the previews were over. Overall, the truck takes the No. 4 spot on our leader board. (Average score: 5.9.)
This family-run farm has been under cultivation since the late 19th century. The market opened in the late 1960s, but the bakery didn’t debut until spring 2007. Shelley Miller oversees the doughnut operation, which offers cake doughnuts Mondays through Saturdays. Stop by on Sundays to try their yeasted doughnuts, which come glazed, chocolate-dipped and fruit-filled.
Address: 10140 Piscataway Rd., Clinton; 301-297-9370, www.millerfarmsclinton.com.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The lineup: More than two dozen doughnuts vied for our affection when we called to place an order. We opted for 12 of their most popular varieties: red velvet, sour cream, iced sour cream, caramel nut, toasted coconut, coconut, apple cider, strawberry, carrot with icing, glazed carrot, chocolate glazed and plain glazed.
Price: 80 cents each ($7 a dozen).
The look: The judges were sharply divided on this batch. The caramel nut earned raves for a crunchy topping that looked as if it had been appropriated from a Drumstick ice cream treat, while the cider was a spot-on rendition of the fall favorite. On the other hand, the dully executed chocolate glazed and the overly sugared iced sour cream earned low marks. (Average weight: 2.2 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 20-32 cents.
How do they taste? A mix of medium hits and low-scoring misses. The cinnamon-laced apple cider garnered a few fans, and the solidly executed glazed was a favorite with the panel. However, many of the rounds were undercooked, creating a Play Doh-like consistency. (Average score: 3.9 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: Sour cream. Sweet glaze had soaked into the dough to create a layer of crystalline crunchiness. The crusty circlet had a nice moistness at its core, which hid just a hint of tang. (Average score: 5.)
Worst of the bunch: Strawberry. Though one judge waxed poetic about how it reminded him of Franken Berry cereal, that couldn’t save this pink-doughed debacle from winding up at the bottom of the heap. Even the scent was off-putting. As one judge said, “This smells like a strawberry scratch-and-sniff sticker.” (Average score: 2.9.)
Running totals so far
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken: 6.9
District Doughnut: 6.7
Mama’s Donut Bites: 5.9
Woodward Takeout Food: 5.4
Fractured Prune: 5.2
Zeke’s DC Donutz: 5.1*
Breads Unlimited: 5
Woodmoor Pastry Shop: 4.2
Heller’s Bakery: 4.1
Nothing But Donuts and Laurel Tavern Donuts (tie): 4
Miller Farms and Shilla Bakery (tie): 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 5 doughnuts:
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken creme brulee and PBJ (tie): 8
GBD berry fritter: 7.6
District Doughnut dulce de leche: 7
Zeke’s Ferrero Rocher: 6.7*
Fractured Prune French toast: 6.3
Worst 5 doughnuts:
Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts strawberry iced and Donut King strawberry filled (tie): 1
Dunkin’ Donuts toasted coconut: 1.1
Family Bakery & Mrs. Doughnut vanilla-iced with sprinkles: 2
Krispy Kreme glazed raspberry-filled: 2.1
* Temporarily closed.