December has to be the best month of the year. There’s so much celebrating to be done, it feels like everyone's birthday has come at once. This year, the festivities kick off almost from the start, with Chanukah landing on the 2nd.
From thereon, it’ll be chocolate coins, latkes and doughnuts galore, with freeloading fried foods almost a religious requirement. It may not be healthy, but it’s an ace antidote to frosty mornings and dark afternoons.
The team at the JC sacrificed their pre-December diets to bring you our tried and tested doughnut recommendations for the festival of light:
- The doughnut of restraint: The Bread Shop
Quarkini can always be found near the tills at this chain of bakeries. The three-bite mouthfuls are perfect for those wanting to keep their indulgence lite — and it’s hard not to indulge once you’ve tried them. They’re sold in three’s, so if you don’t want to nosh up the lot, take a friend — or two. JC tasters gave them the thumbs up for a churros-like fried flavour.
Find them at: 65 St John's Wood High St, London NW8 7NL or 50 Victoria St, St Albans AL1 3HL www.breadshop.co.uk
- For the adventurous (kosher) eater: Carmelli Bakery
The Golders Green stalwart of more than 30 years, offers a sizeable range of fillings — chocolate orange (the winning flavour from a competition last year) to salted caramel; custard; chocolate cream; fresh cream to jam. There’s even a naked, ring doughnut for the purists. A flavour fest.
Find them at: 126-128 Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8HB
- For a traditional treat: Parkway Patisserie
The North West London chain of kosher bakeries came up trumps with a fresh cream-filled ‘nut as well as their chocolate glazed version and one oozing strawberry jam. Cream cake lovers will go crazy.
Find them at: 30a North End Road, Golders Green, NW11 7PT or 355 Regents Park Rd, London N3 1DH
- For the old-fashioned fan – and the children in your life: Hendon Bagel Bakery
We only sampled their jam-filled recipe, but these kosher bakes (piped full of sticky, strawberry jam) scored the most comments from people dreamily reminiscing over childhood Chanukah treats. Take ‘em to your children’s Chanukah parties and watch the little ones do it all over again.
Find them at: 55-57 Church Rd, London NW4 4DU
- For the baking snob: Margot Bakery
Michelle Eshkeri and team use a sourdough starter to raise their festive offerings. You don’t get that sourdough taste — no place for that in a doughnut — but you do get a crunchy exterior and addictively chewy crumb. Fillings were a deliciously chocolate-y custard; zesty lemon curd was a flavour explosion and the fruit-packed artisan jam went down a treat. East Finchley-ites will be queuing out the doors.
Find them at: 121 East End Road, London N2 0SZ www.margotbakery.co.uk
- For the gourmet doughnut fans: Karma Bread
Tami Isaacs Pearce has been baking her huge but super-light, pillowy doughnuts almost since the inception of her South Hampstead bakery. Not only the largest in our trial, these were almost exploding with fillings, which were also showstoppers. Instagrammers will LOVE them. Tahini and honey was reminiscent of halva; the stollen cream was heavily laced with almond essence and topped with dried fruit topping; vanilla cream was gooey and flecked with black vanilla seeds and the strawberry jam could have been home made.
Find them at: 13 South End Road, Hampstead, London NW3 2PT www.karmabread.co.uk