While donuts may be viewed as thoroughly American, the stories of their origins and scope of their iterations are plentiful, from the French choux-pastry beignet to the jam-filled Polish paczki.
Here in the Czech Republic the local offering is the kobliha, filled with custard, nougat or marmalade. In Prague, Maso a Kobliha is the master of that confection with its vanilla creme-filled ranking among the city’s best.
Now like the cupcake, the cake pop, and the ice cream sandwich before it, the American donut is getting the local gourmet treatment with a number of donut bakeries popping up around town. We sampled two, and have since learned of two additional shops launching in Prague (The Donut and Donut Club).
Baker probably isn’t the word one would use to describe Honza, an IT guy by trade and the founder of Donuter Donuts who says that the lack of decent donuts in Prague sparked his decision to get into the business in early August 2016.
“I also wanted to do something that would make people smile. We are actually selling happiness, which is just so good for us.”
Of the almost two dozen Donuter donuts we sampled, most bites ended in a smile (but mainly a gluttonous moan). The playfully named donuts—Vanilla Brownie Star (a vanilla glazed with chocolate brownie sprinkles), Mocca Von Choco (a coffee cream with a mocha glaze), Bloody Donny (a red-velvet cake donut)—were visually appealing but the classics stood out.
Clear winners: A Boston Creme oozing with golden custard and perfectly glazed milk-chocolate icing, the Pistachio Jack featuring pistachio icing garnished with big pistachio pieces, and Choco Boy, a chocolate walnut-studded doughnut.
The Snowman Rafael, an addictive coconut-and-white chocolate doughnut also had its fans.
Some of the more colorfully-iced and sprinkled donuts suffered a crumbling complex when bitten into and the first batch we tried included a couple stale, overly-sweet misses. But the second batch was near perfection and with its super-hero-emblazoned box, the company gets points for presentation.
Honza tells us that Donuter will be opening a series of shops soon—the Prague office party will never be the same again.
Available twice weekly at Coffee Room
42-45 CZK per donut
If Donuter donuts have a certain swagger then the Donut Shop is for those who seek a more demure, though no less tantalizing confection; forget the flashy boxes, ours arrived on baking sheets!
Silvie Mahrová, Monika Mahr, and Jiří Mahr, the team behind these handcrafted donuts with flavor pairings worthy of Heston Blumenthal, tell us: “We fell in love with donuts years ago on our travels. As we couldn’t get them anywhere here the logical step for us was start baking them.”
The donut-loving family will open their own coffee and donut shop near Jiřího z Poděbrad within the coming months but until then their creations, which on any given day might include Maple-Bacon or Matcha and Brown Butter, can currently be found at Coffee Room.
These beautifully made donuts tended toward the cakier side, moist and dense, and heavy to hold. Neutral shades of icing with Pollockesque slashes of color and sprinkles of nuts and spices made them a pleasure to look at as well as eat.
The Butterscotch with Bourbon Cream went down as smooth as you might imagine with the same kind of warming, buttery finish that makes a hot-toddy so appealing.
Does fennel belong on a donut? The fennel-dotted caramel glazed donut we tried answered this question with a resounding yes, a hint of licorice noted in its aromatic finish.
Probably the most decadent donut we sampled was the to-die-for Cream Cheese and Coconut but, again, simplicity ruled the day with a chocolate-glazed and blueberry-iced donut winning grunts of approval from our donut-overdosed group.
While Donuter brought the party, Donut Shop makes the kind of donut you want to slowly savor with a good cup of coffee.
But there is plenty of room for everyone on the Prague donut scene—and after sampling nearly three dozen donuts, we’ll be adjusting our belts in anticpation.