Our quest to find doughnut nirvana is almost complete. Over the past 10 weeks, we have visited old favorites and newcomers, small shops and big bakeries, and a few points in between. This week, we picked up a warm order at a create-your-own doughnut haven in Frederick, then headed to Waldorf to try a long-respected family bakery.
This family-owned business puts out a colorful, diverse selection of yeasted and cake doughnuts. Other shelves are filled with breads, cakes, cookies, danishes and the eclairs that have been their signature item for decades.
Address: 2260 Old Washington Rd., Waldorf. 301-645-8505. www.wigwamwallsbakery.com.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The lineup: More than 40 varieties crowded the cases the day we stopped by. We tried the cherry-frosted, glazed, sugared cake, coconut-frosted, maple, Bavarian cream, lemon, cinnamon-apple, light buttercream, lemon chocolate, chocolate-glazed and a cinnamon-swirled Rosebud.
Price: 75 cents each ($6.95 per dozen).
The look: Judges gave the doughnuts low-to-medium scores because of overly thick frosting, some of it artlessly applied. A few did get special notice, including the bumblebee-toned lemon, frosted with switchbacks of chocolate, and the cherry-frosted, which one judge appreciatively referred to as “the closest thing we’ve seen to the Homer Simpson archetype.” (Average weight: 3.8 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 15-30 cents.
How do they taste? Pretty good to not-so-good; this was a hodgepodge. Tasters appreciated the glazed and compared the maple frosting to real maple sugar candy. But the Bavarian cream’s center and frosting were disappointing, and the artificial cinnamon-apple dishonored Johnny Appleseed’s legacy. (Average score: 3.8 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: Sugared cake. This deft classic just missed our top-five list. There was a hint of marzipan hiding in the soft cake dough and just enough sugar dusting the exterior. (Average score: 5.3.)
Worst of the bunch: Light buttercream. Like a circular eclair, this pastry was cracked open and stuffed with white filling. However, what was passed off as buttercream was simply a sugary cake frosting that seemed to be non-dairy. (Average score: 2.8.)
With locations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey Ohio, this bakery allows you to choose from 32 signature doughnuts, all fried to order. Or you can play mix-and-match with a dozen glazes, half a dozen toppings and several sugars. If you’re feeling particularly gluttonous, order the Hole in One, a doughnut topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and your choice of garnishes.
Address: 1202 E. Patrick St., Unit 1A, Frederick. 301-682-3668. www.fracturedprune.com.
Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The lineup: We opted for a dozen of the house specialties: French toast, peanut butter cup, Carnival, Morning Buzz, Thin Mint, Caramel Bliss, chocolate glazed, Cookies ’n’ Cream, Blueberry Hill, trail mix, O.C. Sand and Black Forest.
Price: $1.35 each ($9.95 per dozen).
The look: Marks ranged from low to high, because some of these doughnuts didn’t travel well. Those that were simply glazed or tossed in sugar had plenty of curb appeal. However, more-complicated elements had deteriorated in the time it took to get them to the office; chocolate chips melted, and grated coconut sloughed off. No matter what, the judges were impressed that all of the doughnuts were uniform in size and fried evenly. (Average weight: 2.5 ounces.)
Price per ounce: 48-56 cents.
How do they taste? It had been more than hour since these cake doughnuts were made when they arrived at our tasting table, yet they were still warm. That alone earned them high praise, but it was the ensuing bites that garnered them scores strong enough to enter our top-scoring ranks. The Caramel Bliss was favorably compared to a Rolo, the peanut butter cup artfully balanced both components, and the Thin Mint did the Girl Scouts proud. On the other hand, the banana-glazed trail mix topped with coconut, crushed nuts and chocolate jimmies fell flat. Overall, this batch elicited a notable number of contented murmurs and the occasional “Oh, yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.” (Average score: 5.2 out of 10.)
Best of the bunch: French toast. “Why would you eat plain old French toast when you could have it in doughnut form?” one judge queried. The moist, springy bangle won our hearts in a big way, landing it in the overall No. 4 slot. (Average score: 6.3.)
Worst of the bunch: Blueberry Hill. Looking like a science fair project gone awry, this came speckled with almost-dissolved indigo crumbles. The berry flavor was so artificial that one judge thought he was eating a bubblegum-flavored pastry. (Average score: 3.5.)
The running totals so far
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken: 6.9
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
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
Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken creme brulee and PBJ (tie): 8
GBD berry fritter: 7.6
Zeke’s Ferrero Rocher: 6.7 *
Fractured Prune French toast: 6.3
Breads Unlimited plain glazed: 5.9
Milan Bakery & Miss Donuts strawberry iced and Donut King strawberry-filled: 1
Dunkin’ Donuts toasted coconut: 1.1
Family Bakery & Mrs. Doughnut vanilla-iced with sprinkles: 2
Krispy Kreme glazed raspberry-filled: 2.1
* Zeke’s is temporarily closed.