Our internists are not happy with us. Over the course of the past eight weeks, we have noshed on more than 160 doughnuts in our quest to discover the best the D.C. area has to offer. We have sampled wares from mom-and-pop shops, fresh-faced newcomers and large grocery stores. In Week 9, we stop in at a well-loved Beltsville bakery and a national supermarket chain with an outlet in Georgetown.
Blink and you might miss this sliver of a bakery tucked away in an nondescript shopping plaza. The menu is divided into two sections: “Raulin’s Donuts” and “Not a Donut?” The latter includes breakfast favorites, such as danishes, muffins and sticky buns, as well as cookies, cakes and wicked-looking chocolate brownies.
Address: 10476 Baltimore Ave., Beltsville. 301-937-9595.
Hours: Mondays, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Tuesdays through Saturdays, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The lineup: Just over two dozen varieties were set out in the cases the morning we stopped in. We tried the sour cream, glazed cake, cinnamon cake, chocolate-frosted cake, cream-filled, coconut raised, glazed, maple nut, nut-frosted, strawberry-filled, chocolate-frosted peanut butter-filled, and a cinnamon-sugared stick.
Price: 85-95 cents per doughnut ($8.49 for a dozen).
The look: These pastries generally earned low to middling scores for their inconsistent and sometimes sloppy execution. Grated coconut sloughed off at the slightest touch, the plain glazed possessed a disconcerting citrine hue, and chopped nuts were applied unevenly. (Average weight: 2.9 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 22-40 cents.
How do they taste? For the most part, these pedestrian pastries earned minor to medium marks. The cream filling had the consistency of warm Camembert, the nut-frosted was painfully sweet and the cinnamon cake had an oily aftertaste. Several judges found solace in the chocolate-frosted peanut butter-filled, which prompted some reminiscing about the simple genius of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. (Average score: 3.3 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: Glazed cake. Sporting a slight sheen, this circular treat turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The dough and the glaze weren’t too sweet and would pair nicely with a glass of cold cider in autumn. (Average score: 4.1.)
Worst of the bunch: Maple nut. If this awful, artificial round was served in Vermont, locals would probably run the baker out of town. It ties with Shoppers’ vanilla-glazed cake and Heidelberg’s glazed cruller as our fifth-least-favorite doughnut. (Average score: 2.3.)
This grocery mega-chain boasts more than 1,600 locations in North America, including 20 in the Washington area. The sprawling bakery section at the Georgetown store turns out an impressive array of sweet treats, including tiramisu, macaroons, cheesecakes, truffle pops, cupcakes and more.
Address: 1855 Wisconsin Ave NW. 202- 333-3223, www.safeway.com.
Hours: 24 hours a day, Mondays through Sundays.
The lineup: There were just over a dozen different kinds of doughnuts on display. We sampled the glazed ring, glazed chocolate ring, chocolate-iced cake, glazed twist, apple fritter, raspberry-filled, glazed white icing with sprinkles, sugared raised, plain cake, lemon-filled, glazed Pershing and chocolate Bismarck filled with Bavarian cream.
Price: 50 cents each.
The look: These were surprisingly handsome for mass-produced grocery store doughnuts. The baker responsible clearly crafted them with care and love. Glaze, frosting, sprinkles and sugar were all applied with a steady, even hand. (Average weight: 2.9 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 11-27 cents.
How do they taste? The straight-up glazed and moist, cinnamon-veined apple fritter were hits with the judges. Misses included the raspberry filling with a medicinal afterbite and the grit-your-teeth sweet Bavarian cream-packed Bismarck. (Average score: 3.5 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: Glazed Pershing. This cinnamon swirled pastry reminded one judge of a long-loved family breakfast tradition, while others simply enjoyed the rich spicing and springy dough. (Average score: 4.7.)
Worst of the bunch: Plain cake. Dispiritingly dull, dry and tasteless, this sad little doughnut was “bad to the bone,” according to one judge. (Average score: 2.6.)
The running totals so far
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken: 6.9
Woodward Takeout Food: 5.4
Zeke’s DC Donutz: 5.1
Breads Unlimited: 5.0
Woodmoor Pastry Shop: 4.2
Heller’s Bakery: 4.1
Nothing But Donuts: 4.0
Shilla Bakery: 3.9
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
Dunkin’ Donuts: 2.2
Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts: 2.1
Astro creme brulee and PBJ (tie): 8.0
GBD berry fritter: 7.6
Zeke’s Ferrero Rocher: 6.7
Breads Unlimited plain glazed: 5.9
Nothing But Donuts Dinosaur
Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts strawberry iced: 1.0
Dunkin’ Donuts toasted coconut: 1.1
Family Bakery & Mrs. Doughnut vanilla-iced with sprinkles: 2.0
Krispy Kreme glazed raspberry-filled: 2.1
Shoppers Food & Pharmacy vanilla-glazed cake, Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe glazed cruller, and Raulin’s Bakery maple nut (tie): 2.3