It's no secret. Melbourne loves a doughnut. Whether it's a fat jam ball from the Queen Victoria Market or a more inventive and Instagrammable Doughboy creation, we cannot get enough of these fried doughy treats. And in Melbourne's cultural melting pot, we're blessed with so many international variations. From French beignets to Sicilian sfinci, Greek loukoumathes to Peruvian picarones, this is one delicious snack with sweet global appeal.
Here is our pick of Melbourne's best doughnuts from around the world.
Brunswick East and Kew
With the largest Greek population outside of Greece, Melbourne knows a thing or two about Greek food. And Hellenic Republic in Brunswick East and Kew is the place to go for all your modern Greek cravings. Hellenic's loukoumathes (Greek doughnuts) are plump golf balls made with extra moisture. This allows the doughnuts to expand in the fryer, making the shell nice and crispy. The secret ingredient (potato puree) also gives it flavour and texture. The fried balls are then soaked in syrup and served with cinnamon and walnuts. Opa!
Peruvian...Mi Peru D'Carmen
Peruvian food is so hot right now and, lucky for us, it has a kick arse doughnut offering. Picarones are pumpkin and sweet potato rings, deep-fried and served in a brown sugar and fig syrup. A dessert with African origins, it's crispy outside but light and fluffy inside. At $7 for a plate for four, these house specialities are a sell-out at Mi Peru D'Carmen in Melbourne's Bayside.
Popular TV chef, Shane Delia, offers Middle Eastern with Mediterranean influences at his restaurant, Maha. And his doughnut is a classic example of this. Tweaking his Lebanese mother-in-law's recipe, Delia adds gooey Turkish delight before dropping them in the fryer where the oil temperature has to be exact. Too cold and the doughnut becomes oily. Too hot and it burns. Maha aims for golden perfection. It's fried and served right away, with rosewater honey and walnuts with a hint of vanilla and cinnamon. Oh my…
Whether it's bomboloni, ciambelle or a zeppole, the Italians love a doughnut variation. While they're all deliciously inviting, it's the sfinci that has caught our eye. From Scilly, sfinci can have dried fruits like sultanas or orange peel added to the batter before frying. They're then tossed in sugar and cinnamon. Sfinci is usually served on 'Saints Day' (e.g. Saint Joseph day on March 19) but you can get yours six days a week at Kew's Mister Bianco. Owner and chef, Joseph Vargetto, makes sfinci fresh to order. They come with gelato and jam (served in a syringe), so you can fill each of them up to your little heart's content.
Celebrate French joie de vivre with a beignet, a doughnut with French origins but made popular in New Orleans. The beignet is softer with a brioche feel. They're best served hot and filled with sugary goodness. Port Melbourne's Noisette offers three types of beignets – strawberry jam, vanilla custard (the vanilla bean is from Madagascar) and salty caramel. All are made with butter from Brittany, making them extra calorific… and delicious!
A doughnut that is not round? Only the Spanish can get away with that! The beloved churros are long strands of deep fried dough and you can get your churros fix at Movida on Hosier Lane. Movida's churros are cooked in fresh, clean oil, making them crispy on the outside and slightly chewy on the inside. They're served with a steaming cup of thick hot chocolate for your dunking pleasure. We guarantee you will not stop at one.
Lebanese bakery/café/grocery store, Oasis, has been making Melbourne's best awamat (Lebanese doughnuts) since 1998. These shiny, airy, crunchy, golden balls are lighter than other world doughnuts so you can have more than one or 10! They're sold in buckets of 10 (for a bargain price of $5). On weekends, Oasis sells up to 3000 of these babies a day.
Polish and Russian...Baker in the Rye
Pączkis (Polish doughnuts) are not always available at Baker in the Rye and when they are, they sell fast. These sweet treats are round, sugar-coated and filled with house-made plum jam. The secret ingredient? A dash of liqueur. If you miss out on a p?czki, never fear. Baker also makes a spongy bomboloni or a Russian piroshki filled with cherries (or minced meat).
Ponchkes (sufganiyah in Hebrew) are doughnuts eaten in Israel and around the world during the Hanukkah festival. Similar to the Polish p?czkis, ponchkes are round and filled with something oozing with sugar. Lichtenstein's Bakehouse sells jam and custard-filled ponchkes in two sizes. We suggest going with large.
The Germans may be known for their sausages and pretzels, but let's not forget their sweet side. Amongst German desserts is the popular berliner pfannkuchen (German doughnut) or the berliner, for short. Similar to the Polish p?czki, the berliner is a flattened sphere made with deep fried yeast dough and filled with jam or chocolate or custard. Unlike a p?czki, it's often made with two sides, glued together by the sweet filling. Try one at Southbank's Hophaus, where the berliner comes with mocha chocolate and vanilla cream. Yum!
American (New York)...Cavallini's
The world went nuts over the cronut when French chef, Dominique Ansel, released his half-croissant/half-doughnut creation in his New York bakery last year. Since then, it has inspired imitators worldwide. In Melbourne, you can get a massive cronut at Fitzroy North's Cavallini's. Named the 'New Yorker', this cronut has layers (like a croissant), it is filled with lemon curd and topped with a sugary white glaze and mixed crumble. Needless to say, they don't stay on the shelves for long and they are only available on Fridays and the weekend.
Need more deep fried delights? Check out our guide to Melbourne's Best Gourmet Doughnuts.
Main Image Credit: Just a Taste