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Aug 19, 2009 04:53 PM

Donuts (Calgary)

You were all so kind helping me find groceries and markets in my new home, so I though I would try you out again....

I miss donuts. Not those things from the chain store, I mean fresh fried donuts. At home (NY) you could find them at pretty much any Mom and Pop bakery. You ever had a fresh apple fritter resplendent in its greasiness? With real apple chunks? Glory Be!

Anyway, hubby brought me home some mealy gross thing to try and help me through the homesickness that has set in and all he did was anger me, lol. Tell me, there has GOT to be a baker somewhere who still fries his/her own donuts? Hole in the wall or no, I'm there, just point me and my googlemaps in the right direction!!

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  1. You can get freshly fried donuts at some Chinese bakeries. I know the one in the mall at 16th ave and Centre N usually has them but getting them fresh is a matter of timing. I've never tried to figure it out but I suspect near opening is the key. These are the yeast kind, like donut holes on a skewer. I don't believe they fry through the day. Often Chinese pastries aren't sweet enough but this isn't a problem since they're dipped in sugar.

    It's like a lottery, you MIGHT get lucky at a supermarket bakery but your odds are so, so low. That's why the mini-donuts at the Stampede are so popular. I know there are a couple of those machines around but they aren't exactly what you want either.

    I can't remember seeing donuts even at the old school bakeries like Glamorgan. We're still on the cupcake kick here.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sharonanne

      Glamorgan Bakery definitely has donuts, from donut holes to the glorious Texas ones. They are really good too but I don't know about getting them fresh.

      1. re: Jasz

        Getting a little off topic... If you happen to go to Glamorgan Bakery, you should try their cheese buns as well. They are really good and melt in your mouth.

        Btw, here is the address for Glamorgan Bakery:
        #20, 3919 Richmond Road Sw
        Calgary, AB T3E 4P2
        (403) 242-2800

    2. I don't know if I've ever had 'freshly fried donuts'. Maybe the ones they used to give out at Krispy Kreme when you waited in line. But I haven't had any other selections other than the glazed.

      However, I have had freshly fried mini-donuts, as various locations. As sharonanne alluded too, that's probably why the stampede mini donuts are so popular - you can't find freshly fried donuts anywhere!

      Actually, at the Calgary Farmer's Market, there is a mini donut trailer that freshly fries mini donuts. They have the standard cinnamon-sugar coating (applied afterwards) but they taste fresh, crisp, fluffy with slight density, and are really delicious. Don't know how they compare to the ones you're used to though! The CFM is open during the summer (till Sept I think) Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hoj

        I will check out the market, and I have passed a couple of Chinese bakeries in my travels of late. Fresh donuts are the best, and I know my neighbourhood bakery used to use yeast scraps for most of them, but they are fantastic! If you didnt get there fast though you were out of luck. I notice that most of the bakeries here focus on cakes, cupcakes and bread and not so much pastries. I was told that the culinary school here has an outlet for the students and if you are willing to put up with some "creative" looking interpretations they sell traditional pastries daily. Anyone else know about this?

        1. re: messier

          That would be at SAIT - we've purchased bread from the students in the past, but haven't been there in a few years, and it's pretty good. The location that they sell is a little hidden. Phone the Highwood (where the students showcase their cooking talents; I recommend the Thursday buffet over dinner) and they'll be able to tell you:

          What kind of pastries were you looking for? A Ladybug sells very nice french pastries:

          They also have an outlet at the Calgary Farmer's Market. There is also Nectar, which is in Inglewood, but I no longer recommend their stuff; the quality has been quite uneven recently, and becoming quite expensive.

      2. Head south of Calgary until you hit the border crossing, then go to the other side and you'll find something :(

        But seriously, after the demise of Krispy Kreme here, fresh donuts are pretty much non-existent unless you can settle for the fresh mini-donuts (which to me pale by comparison). Almost all donuts here are reheated frozen pre-made ones (Tim Hortons....grrrrrr). Coffee Time (Robins donuts) did used to make fresh donuts but I'm not sure if they went the way of Timmy's as well with frozen but you could try them. If I get a really bad donut craving I actually drive to Red Deer to the Donut Mill as I know they make fresh donuts.

        Seems that overpriced fancy cupcakes are more appealing here for some reason.

        24 Replies
        1. re: slingshotz

          I'm pretty sure places like Glamorgan, and even Safeway, don't reheat frozen donuts. You won't be getting a freshly fried donut on demand, but it will have been made that morning. Donut Mill is no better in that respect.

          1. re: 23skidoo

            I really wanted to like the Donut Mill, but almost all of my donut purchases have been sub par. They make a lot of donuts, but I've better experiences elsewhere.

            Having a friend who worked in the Sobey's bakery, she was able to put aside some fresh donuts and they were heavenly, which has always led me to believe - it's just a matter of when you get them; no matter the establishment.

            1. re: raidar

              Ahhh the Donut Mill in Red Deer ... used to make my favourite donut of all time, the Black Forrest donut ... cherry flavoured with fresh cream inside ... chocolate icing ... alas, they no longer make it, so I no longer go there :(

          2. re: slingshotz

            TH sells about ten billion times as many donuts as do all those "overpriced fancy cupcake" places. What we're lacking is obviously GOOD donuts. There are millions and millions consumed here but sadly Canadians see TH as some sort of benevolent and quality bit of Canadiana instead of the crap factory it really is. It's horribly sad.

            I had an apple fritter from "Delicious Donuts" in Portland a couple of weeks ago that blew that garbage from TH out of the water, but Canadian sheep (and those sheep are EVERYWHERE in this country and not just Calgary) treat TH as this sacred cow. Makes me want to vomit.

            1. re: John Manzo

              The real pity is that Timmy's used to be the gold standard, before being bought by Wendy's, with fresh donuts baked twice a day and 12 hour unsold product thrown out, or donated.

              Too bad no one is making an Ottawa style beavertail, or Fenway fried dough (not too good at marketing, those Boston cart vendors)

              1. re: John Manzo

                I don't get the love of TH but I do meet someone there for tea occasionally because it's cheap and as good as most places. Also, our investment club has made some decent cash off Timmy's stocks. They seem to be busy all the time. Maybe habit from when they were good?

                I don't think the fresh donut fad has hit Canada like it has the US. I'm researching a visit to NYC and see a lot of talk about donuts. On the other hand, I remember visiting Portland Oregon in the early 90s where there was (probably still is) a donut place that was known for bizarre toppings like bacon and cereal. Maybe just not our thing? I never understood the love of Krispy Kreme either.

                1. re: sharonanne

                  The place in Portland is called Voodoo Doughnuts, and is still around.

                  The attraction to Krispy Kreme was that they had hot, fresh, soft donuts with a nice thick glaze. I loved it while it lasted.

                    1. re: 23skidoo

                      I've had one Krispy Kreme and didn't love it. Too sweet for me but many people do so I thought I should post that warning about my taste which is obviously weird.

                      1. re: sharonanne

                        sharonanne you're not alone I find Krispy Kreme too sweet too. I'm also not a fan of TH now that they're not baking in house. Donut Mill holes have been great when you get them fresh but not so wonderful near closing time(DM is now about 20 min drive from my house)...this might sound odd but I actually like starbucks donuts... they're definitely not made inhouse but they're better than Tim Hortons imho.

                        1. re: maplesugar

                          Not weird at all- I forgot about Starbucks but they do indeed have some nice donuts.

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    Could not agree with you more, John. It really irks me that the pride and joy of Canada is ... TIM HORTONS. Yes. Undercooked, frozen, re heated garbage holes called 'donuts', and sewage water coffee loaded with cream and sugar is what we Canadianis identify most with! Thank goodness the coffee is good in Calgary, or else I'd have to jump off a cliff.

                    Anybody up for a 'Timmy's Run' (TM) (R) (C) ????

                    1. re: Hoj

                      CBC had a great feature on the TH love that basically came down to the fact that we (and I say this somewhat carefully as a naturalised Canadian from the US) actually celebrate mediocrity. We don't want to be too good because "good" is "ostentatious," and "good enough" should be just that.

                      Of course there are many, many counterexamples but I think TH really is a good encapsulation of one of the unfortunate aspects of the Canadian psyche. When you say you hate TH- and I don't hate a lot of things about Canada, but TH might be first on my list- this is taken as a MORAL matter. It's really quite a phenomenon.

                      1. re: John Manzo

                        At the same time I think it is interesting to note the attraction to TH by various immigrant groups to Canada as well. Whether its simply a case of going with the norm or a genuine affinity for the brand, I always notice large numbers of recent immigrants of all different ethnicities that seem to be attracted to TH. Regardless it is definitely a strange satisfaction that people seem to get from TH.

                        1. re: Pintye

                          I think this may be a quick way for immigrant groups to feel more assimilated into the Canadian culture. To many people, going for a Timmy's Run or grabbing a double double is actually part of their everyday routine. Conversations between Canadians and immigrant groups likely cover this at some point. Thus, immigrant families making a concerted effort to go to TH and make it a part of their day take joy in showing an effort into assimilating into this Canadian phenomenon. Although I don't know much about the CBC feature on Canadian Mediocrity, it's not a totally outlandish hypothesis. If only I could run an ESL school for new Asian immigrants, teaching them about coffee, espresso, and cupping!

                        2. re: John Manzo

                          In Tim's defense (ducking while I say it) I remember when they first brought in soup and the beef barley was the best thing I had tasted in a fast food place and many fine restaurants. My daughter also fell for their sandwiches when all you could get at fast food places were burgers. They were the healthiest quick option at that time.

                          The last time I had soup it was not amazing and I don't go except for tea with this one friend. The one on 17th ave and around 12st SW is packed in the morning with laborer and office types. Where elese can they be in and out quickly for that price?

                          We used to meet at the Good Earth nearby but I've had my share of stale scones and when they were closed for construction we tried TH and can't see a reason to go back, pay for parking and $4 for a latte when we're happy with our tea. The donuts don't tempt me which is actually a bonus.

                      2. re: John Manzo

                        Then you know the bliss I speak of Mr. Manzo! When I say fresh I mean made that day, from scratch. Not frozen, not reheated. Even at home getting it right from the fryer was a matter of timing and being very, very, very nice to the bakers. I had the Tim Hortons you speak of (my husband whined about missing it every day since I met him). He took me there on my first trip to Canada and I have to say....ewww. I had a sour cream glazed that left a nice, waxy coating in my mouth. I'm actually a Southern girl, so a little grease doesn't phase me one bit, but wax???

                        1. re: messier

                          Not in Calgary, but an excellent place is the Donut Mill in Red Deer. They specialise in a variety of filled donuts, but my favourite are their sour cream glazed. They humiliate the ones from TH, which are bad at best.

                          1. re: itwillmakeaturd

                            The secret to getting great donuts at the Donut Mill in Red Deer is to ask what is fresh...seriously, everythign is made onsite and the fresh stuff is awesome. However, anything that sits around for a while seems to get stalke quickly...not sure if this is a storage issue or what.

                            The Fresh Boston Cream donuts are so good!

                          2. re: messier

                            To messier - - Okay...I must ask...where are you from? To stay on topic, I'm from Alabama & I used to live behind the Krispy Kreme in Tuscaloosa. You could see the "Hot and Now" sign through my window. It had alot to do with the "freshman 15" I gained in university! Donuts are one of the things I miss here though I try not to make that list very often b/c I just get depressed!

                            1. re: Merry113

                              Merry113 I was born and bred in Hilton Head SC! It was a big adjustment moving North to NY with my hubby and now he just keeps pushing us further up, lol! I've drawn the line here though, this seems like a nice place to settle. As for missing things, my love we could start a whole other topic (I nearly dropped dead when I found out you can't get Trix cereal here!!! How am I to survive!) I have to say though, I've come to enjoy dill pickle chips ;)

                              On topic, the donut search continues...I've convinced the other half to drive to Red Deer this weekend. He thinks I want to explore. I have other things in mind...hee! Will report on Donut Mill, and will be asking "whats fresh". Lets all pray for apple fritters. Sweet, fresh, perfectly fried fritter perfection. Sigh.

                              1. re: messier

                                I don't want to burst your bubble ahead of time, but Donut Mill's fritters are not the best thing they serve. Better than Timmy's of course, but too much fritter and not enough apple for my taste. Aside from the sour cream glazed which I mentioned above, their old fashioned style are very good. The lemon donut was also a surprising hit as it was filled with some kind of custard, not a cream.

                                It would be foolish to go all that way and not get at least a half dozen, so there should be room for a fritter in your box anyway.

                                1. re: messier

                                  So we went out to Donut Mill yesterday and I took all your advise in hand, hoping to fulfil my donut craving and calm my homesickness. I asked "what was fresh" and I was pointed to the sour cream and old fashioned as well as a nice selection of filled donuts. I did get an apple fritter, which was just ok, but the lemon cream was FANTASTIC and the boston cream was bliss. We got a dozen (well I should say I did, I wasn't sharing). It was a good experience (especially the fresh! fresh! fresh! old fashioned I ate right there at the till!) but I've been warned we will not be taking road trips under false pretences again (quite sternly in fact!).
                                  On another note, I was able to make contact with the lead hand baker at Safeway in Ogden (long story, I was lost) and she told me that she fries donuts every day at 8 am sharp. She doesn't know if everyone follows that schedule, but she would be happy to supply me if I was there between 8:15 and 8:30. Now I just have to make sure I can find my way back there....

                                  1. re: messier

                                    Even though I'm not a donut connoisseur, I happen to pass by the Donut Mill on my way down from Edmonton this past weekend and hence, decided to try it after reading this post. I had quite the opposite experience. I loved the apple fritter. It was definitely my favourite out of the bunch. I think it was because it was fresh! I liked that it had real apple chunks in it. The vanilla lemon (can't remember if that was the exact name, but it was the one with the lemon filling) was just ok... the icing was a little too sweet for my taste. The double chocolate was just ok as well. They were sold out of the boston cream so I didn't get to try that. I think they key at the Donut Mill is to the get ones that are fresh. I actually asked which ones are fresh and was surprised they actually told me. All in all, I was impressed with it. Certainly beats TH. I definitely will be back again if I happen to be driving by.

                        2. Have you tried a Coop Grocery store yet? Perhaps find out when they make their donuts.

                          I know what you mean about a fresh apple fritters. :D

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: swbossert

                            I'm reluctant to say so, out of purely selfish reasons, but I have to say the best donuts hands down in Calgary are at the Spolumbos lunch counter mid week. They put a batch out around lunch time, as far as I can tell they're limited to one batch, and best of all they're free when you purchase your food. Simple plain donuts, crisp on the outside, soft insides, with a light icing sugar dusting. Feakin' awesome. Don't bother thanking me, just make sure to leave some behind when I stop in for lunch.

                            1. re: CriolloLover

                              I agree with you on the Spolumbos donuts. I have only had them on a couple of occasions but they were really good. Best donuts I have had in Calgary for sure. Best of all they are free! I wish they made these on a regular basis and charged for them because I would be a regular.

                              No love for Safeway donuts out there? I have always had a soft spot for their jelly filled with the sugar coating.

                          2. Forgot to mention...
                            The Buttercup bakery in Bragg Creek has THE BEST bearclaws I have ever tasted...Absolutely worth the drive for this one donut.