Lately I’ve been obsessed with a dessert (or breakfast~) item that is a bit unusual for me–doughnuts. Until recently, I disliked doughnuts. I thought they were greasy, disliked the sticky, saccharine glaze that most doughnuts are drenched in, and didn’t care for the texture of the ring of dough itself. They were something I always passed up in the grocery stores, and doughnut shops didn’t interest me. The only exception to this was the St. Patrick’s Day special flavour at a small shop near my mother’s house–they produce a mint-chocolate doughnut only for part of March. I always liked that it didn’t remind me of a doughnut at all, but was instead more like a ring-shaped cupcake with sugar icing.
This all changed when a new shop opened up in the city: the Doughnut Vault.
When visited the third time, I brought a camera! The outside of the shop is really lovely.
I like to keep an eye on restaurants and food trends, and I started hearing rumors of this shop before they opened. They operate a Tumblr as their official website, posting entries with beautiful pictures of the doughnuts in all stages of creation. Before the shop was opened the site shared images of the construction-in-progress, with little hints about where the location might be. I was thrilled when they finally announced it would be located near the Merchandise Mart, which is fairly easy to get to. (I will travel far for delicious things, but if I don’t have to, that’s even better~)
It wasn’t easy to taste a doughnut from this shop. The Doughnut Vault opens at 8:30am (9:30am on Saturday) and closes when they run out of doughnuts. Even now that it’s been open for several months, there’s still a line that forms outside the small blue door before an employee finally opens it and starts letting small groups inside. If I’m going to go, I always aim to be there before the opening time, so that I can get a good spot in line and have full choice of the day’s menu. (Particularly because the doughnut I enjoy the most, the old-fashioned, sells out very quickly.)
Usually the wait in line isn’t terrible, although I have avoided the shop during the hottest days of the summer. Sweltering outside in line doesn’t sound quite worth it to me; I suppose I’m simply not hard-core enough. The shop itself is teeny-tiny. The “vault” in the shop’s name refers to the fact that it is built into an old bank vault. The portion that receives customers is what looks to have been a staging hallway for packages entering or leaving the vault before being loaded into awaiting vehicles outside. It’s a tiny, narrow space–you could barely fit two averagely-sized people shoulder-to-shoulder in the width, and less than 10 people can stand in the shop at one time. There are mirrors and windows to alleviate feels of claustrophobia, but it is not a place to hang out and relax–although there is a quaint patio area arranged on the sidewalk just outside the door.
The old-fashioned doughnuts are my favourite. They’re dense but still fluffy, with a nice balance of sweetness that isn’t overpowering.
The doughnuts are works of art. If all doughnuts tasted like this, I never would have disliked them in the first place. The shop offers cake doughnuts and yeast doughnuts. The old-fashioned and the gingerbread stack are cake doughnuts; these rings of dough are dense, crumbly, and textured. The old-fashioned have a slight tang of buttermilk, while the gingerbread are fragrant and spiced. The old-fashioned are coated in a glaze that is a nice accent to the crunchy exterior, but not overly sweet, while the gingerbread are rolled in cinnamon-sugar.
The yeast doughnuts are the glazed doughnuts. These giant treats are fluffy and light inside, with a slightly crispy exterior. The outside is then coated in a flavoured glaze. The shop opened with three flavours–chocolate, vanilla, and chestnut–and usually rotates a special flavour in and out of the selection at random. They’ve done pistachio, blueberry, and mocha, but I expect there will be even more new flavours as the shop continues. Special flavours and doughnut stock statuses are updated constantly on the shop’s Twitter, doughnutvault.
Now on my days off, if my schedule allows it, I try to sneak over the Doughnut Vault to acquire an old-fashioned or two. Most people enjoy doughnuts with coffee, but I like mine with tea. The doughnuts’ sweetness pairs will with unsweetened teas–but if you really like sugary things, a fruity or sweeter tea would definitely amplify that. I tend to drink Earl Grey with mine–otherwise Ceylon, Assam, or Darjeeling–and like to dunk the doughnut into the tea.
Now that I’ve found a place with such delicious doughnuts, I want to try my hand at making them myself. I know that I don’t have the skills to make anything nearly as wonderful as the practiced and mysterious chef François at the Doughnut Vault, but homemade treats are always fun~ ♥ (Plus, it’s easy to forgive most flaws in the final product if you know you’ve put a lot of effort and heart into trying your best.) And, if it doesn’t turn out well, I can drown my sorrows in a well-made doughnut the next time I have a chance~ ♥