Old school jam-filled doughnuts, neon icing drenched ones, vegan brioche rings and even sourdough-nuts
What do Homer Simpson, boy racers in car parks and traditional British seaside resorts all have in common? Come on, you’ve read the title of this article, it’s doughnuts, silly. Manchester is jam-packed full of them these days. You can’t move without one hitting you in the face.
Like most delicious baked goods, everyone wants to say they invented doughnuts. My nan, your nan, English cookbooks from 1803 and a 16-year-old American sailor called Hanson Gregory (what have you done with your life, eh?) all claim to have invented the humble doughnut but the ‘nut world doesn’t live in the past, it moves forward. Doughnuts, or donuts if you’re American, have been given a glow-up with new flavours, new textures, and fillings that don’t squirt down your shirt when you bite in.
Putting such a list together hasn’t been easy. The research has been gruelling. Icing blindness, intense sugar rushes, mood swings and dramatic shaking are just a few of the things we’ve put ourselves through. But we’ve come out the other side in a higher state of consciousness with a list of the best doughnuts the city of Manchester has to offer.
While we love amped-up, social media-prettified doughnuts, we also have a soft spot for an old-school jammy ‘nut. Barbakan Deli in Chorlton has been producing Polish loaves and pastries for nearly 60 years so it’s had plenty of time to perfect its sugar-drenched rings and special pączki, traditional polish doughnuts stuffed with almost too much raspberry filling. Enjoy in the outside seating area with a coffee and a strategic heap of paper napkins as you watch Chorlton go by.
Barbakan, 67-71 Manchester Rd, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9PW
There’s a place for all doughnut kinds in Manchester and Longsight gem Chinnywala does the sort of doughnuts that bring to mind the freak shakes of yesteryear. We’re talking very stacked, substantially-topped doughnuts. Sprinkles upon sprinkles - upon sprinkles. Unlike a lot of other independents, however, there's a level of customisation. There's round food for every mood, you could say. All doughnuts are served with sugar and chocolate sauce with a choice of sauces and toppings that range from bubblegum and strawberry to popping candy, Biscoff and mint Aero.
Chinnywala, Hamilton Road, Longsight, Manchester, M13 0PB
"One woman in her kitchen making artisan brioche doughnuts from scratch"- not sure what else you could ask for. Northern Quarter-based kitchen baking operation D G H N T brings a serious conundrum: are these doughnuts just too aesthetically pleasing to eat? Do we want to touch the delicate pieces of citrus on top of the doughnuts in the limited-edition Middle Eastern box, for instance? Or do we just want to stare at them forever and imagine how good they taste? Can you be hypnotised by the beauty of a doughnut?
Snap out of it. No doughnut is too beautiful to eat. With orders available direct through Instagram and pop-ups at spots like Factory Coffee for picking up a few in person, recent flavours on the menu (updated weekly) have included milo malted chocolate and candied cinnamon pecan.
To truly embrace the doughnut life you need to come with an open mind and an open heart to whatever the doughnut life gives you. You need to reconfigure your mental interpretation of the concept of what a doughnut is. Long story short, not only does Glazed do sourdough doughnuts, with natural yeast and a dough that’s left for 20 hours to produce light and fluffy doughnuts, but it's also straying from the circular status quo. Yes, Glazed deals in brioche finger doughnuts too.
There’s a hidden advantage to sourdough doughnuts - they’re easier to digest. Thus, technically, you can fit a few more in without feeling ill. Brioche is usually reserved for the classics (vanilla custard, strawberry jam and chocolate cream), whilst sourdough is used for something a bit more adventurous (salted caramel, cherry Bakewell, lemon meringue, pina colada). Glazed treats are available for delivery every Saturday and Sunday.
The little glass box that Gooey sits in at the entrance to Ducie Street Warehouse always reminds us of the box offices at American cinemas. A doughnut at Gooey isn’t entry for one, it’s more like a one-way ticket to tasty town. Gooey by name, gooey by nature.
Handmade daily in the Ducie Street Warehouse kitchen, Gooey’s brioche doughnuts range from the classics (raspberry jam, vanilla custard and chocolate) to more flamboyant weekly specials like a Nutella-filled crème brûlée doughnut complete with oozing centre and crunchy caramel topping. Combo boxes are available for delivery if you fancy mixing and matching Gooey's enormous cookies and new choux buns.
Ducie Street Warehouse, Ducie Street, Manchester M1 2TP /
The last place you'd expect to find a doughtnut on the menu is at a fitness studio where you can build your own salad and purchase a jar of sea moss. However, The Green Lab NQ have a varied selection of pronuts (protein doughnuts) in flavours like strawberry and vanilla and green matcha. If Kourtney Kardashian had to cop some doughnuts during a flying visit to Manchester, we're pretty certain she'd pop into this spot on Dale Street.
The Green Lab NQ, 32-34 Dale St, Manchester M1 1FY
Nowadays it seems that any combination of letters before the word "nut" indicates an inventive sweet treat is on the horizon. Think cronut, pronut, and more recently, a loafnut. Although this spot's original speciality comes in the form of loaf-shaped cakes topped with everything from pink wafers to passion fruit, they've branched out into doughnuts of the glazed and decorated variety. Loaf is everything but minimal, so expect big flavours and garish toppings, and you can order loafnuts in boxes of 12 for £16.
Loaf, 29 New Bailey St, Manchester, Salford M3 5GN
Tib Street’s brightly coloured pastry palace Siop Shop is a good spot for giving a doughnut a good seeing to - with the added bonus of indoor and outdoor seating. Siop’s ‘nuts are a more bready example of the genre compared to its brioche-orientated comrades, and where others go with a more dazzle camouflage approach to toppings and aesthetics, Siop keeps it colourful and refined.
The permanent menu includes classic glaze, vanilla custard and raspberry jam, but weekly specials have included a strawberry and mint filled number and a maple and blueberry-glazed ring. The open-plan kitchen behind the till also means you can chomp and chef watch which is always fun.
Siop Shop, 53 Tib Street, Manchester M4 1LS
Like our passions for knitting and sushi making, Sweet Baige was born out of a lockdown passion project in May 2020, and the biz quickly took off as a small bakery selling bespoke cakes, cookies and doughnuts. The doughnuts in question are of the fluffy brioche variety and are available to order in small batches on select weekends. Flavours include Biscoff, Nutella and Kinder, with delivery options and pickup available. They sell out pretty quickly so ordering early is advised. When it comes to Sweet Baige signatures, Nutella and Biscoff as the ones that take the biscuit, sorry doughnut.
Teatime Collective might be best known for its impressive bespoke vegan cakes but it also does a nice line in vegan doughnuts. Not one to discriminate between glazed rings and filled centres, the vegan doughnut offering is another on the more spectacular side with vibrant bubblegum colours and indulgent toppings. Teatime Collective's black forest gateau separates it from the pack, as does the jammy dodger doughnut. There's also an off-menu doughnut cake, the ultimate birthday treat for aficionados.
Teatime Collective, St. Wilfrids Enterprise Centre, Royce Road, Hulme, Manchester, M15 5BJ
We know, there's nothing worse than a wild goose chase, but Wild Soul Doughnuts are definitely worth trekking to all the different Maker's Markets for, and they have a salted caramel doughnut with a pretzel in the middle. Popping up all over the North West from Leeds to the little gem that is GRUB, Wild Soul's sweet rings are 100% vegan and completely ready for their close-up. Fun flavours aren't exactly few and far between on this list, but some Wild Soul wacky ones include Percy Pig and Party Rings.
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