Donuts are as trendy now as cupcakes used to be. Among the very best new-wave artisan donut shops is The Holy Donut of Portland, Maine. Here you find very big donuts in extraordinary variety selling for over $2 each. They’re no bargain, but neither is champagne or caviar. These are the crème de la crème, and not just because the flavors are such magnificences as Maine blueberry, bacon maple, coffee brandy, and dark chocolate sea salt.
What makes these donuts spectacular beyond the festoonery is the dough itself. It includes mashed Maine potatoes or, in a couple of variations, mashed roasted sweet potatoes, which gives the body of the doughnut unique melt-in-the-mouth creaminess. They come out of the fry kettle with brittle-crisp skin, making even the plain ones a mouth-feel joy. Glazed or sprinkled with an abundance of the very best ingredients, they become positively regal.
When The Holy Donut opens in the morning, there will be over a dozen varieties available, most of them still warm. There are “regular” ones, such as dark chocolate coconut, fresh (really fresh, just squeezed) lemon, and pomegranate; there are deluxe ones, (which cost about 50 cents more) such as blueberry-lemon and coffee cake; and there are such seasonal ones as orange Creamsicle and chai glazed. Vegan varieties also are available, as are gluten-frees. If you are hankering for something savory rather than sweet, check out the bacon & cheddar filled donut, rich with Vermont cheddar and massive amounts of bacon in what’s billed as “old fashioned dough.” This one puts any ordinary breakfast sandwich to shame.
The original Holy Donut is at 7 Exchange St. in Portland, and there is another one at 194 Park Ave. I especially like the newest one, in Scarborough, because it isn’t insanely crowded like the downtown one and it opens the earliest, at 6am. At that time, some of the warm donuts are still being dipped and frosted.