Have you noticed the profusion of doughnut shops that have cropped up in the last few years? With their Insta-ready hues and backgrounds, they’ve become the new avocado toast, charcoal ice cream, and gold covered everything to hit your feed.
Glory Hole Doughnuts however, is the OG. Owner and pastry chef Ashley Jacot De Boinod, GHD opened her first shop in Parkdale (1596 Queen St. W.) in 2012 (“Gangnam Style,” the Michael Phelps diet, and launch of the iPhone 5 were top news stories). De Boinod built up a loyal following with her insanely fresh, drool-inducing flavour creations, so when the Gerrard and Coxwell location debuted two months ago, lineups were inevitable.
All you need is love and donuts
What makes these pastries stand out from the crowd are the fresh ingredients. The artisanal bakery creates supremely high quality doughnuts using fresh, local, and organic ingredients, translating to soft, chewy delights that will become your new obsession with a single bite.
The commitment to freshness is what makes them so exceptional. Doughnuts are made from scratch by hand daily, with nothing frozen or sold the next day. The dough is made fresh each day, then refrigerated to slowly rise overnight. Pulled the following day, it’s then rolled, proofed, and fried to perfection in 100% vegetable oil and vegetable shortening.
There’s also the actual structure of the doughnut. Bite into a frosted one and notice that the frosting doesn’t shatter and fall away. Instead, the gooey topping stays put. Dig into a yeasted one, and the soft crumb delivers a buoyant chew.
Excuse to eat cake for breakfast
GHD specializes in three types of doughnuts: yeast-raised, cake, and vegan. Yeasted - available in glazed, frosted, and filled varieties - are so soft and pillowy, a knife only obliterates them, so don’t try and portion them out: just tear into them for goddsakes and enjoy (if you are going to share, GHD recommends scissors).
Cake doughnuts boast a slightly crunchy crust that gives way to a soft interior. Unlike many large chains, there’s not a whiff of heaviness, just depth. The one selection - Birthday Cake – is the old- fashioned sour cream kind, complete with vanilla birthday cake glaze and rainbow sprinkles, that turns any day into a celebration.
And vegan donuts are here for you with a coconut milk base that delivers just a hint of coconut that never overwhelms other flavours. The same flour/sugar recipe for yeast dough is utilized, with a simple swap of coconut milk for cow’s. Since coconut milk has a similar fat content/profile as butter and eggs, it delivers a comparable texture to the non-vegan yeast ones. Flavours rotate seasonally, often with two selections per season (currently serving: Cinnamon Sugar and Hibiscus Glaze).
One glance at the menu and you’ll see De Boinod goes well beyond the constraints of regular fried dough offerings: Mango Lassi, Rice Krispie Treat, and Strawberry Rhubarb Cheesecake.
Flavours change occasionally and seasonally, so there’s always something new to look forward to. Valentine’s Day saw made in-house raspberry jam-filled doughnuts. Gone too soon: fragrant London Fog (earl grey tea infused pastry cream), and Citrus Chai Brûlée (chai tea finished with torched orange zest sugar), both made with loose leaf tea by their supplier, Leslieville’s own Genuine Tea, Valentine’s Day saw made in-house raspberry jam-filled doughnuts. A few however, are here to stay.
Toast and Butter has been on the menu since day one and isn’t likely to come off any time soon. Phew. Because you do not want this whipped brown butter frosted dessert crowned with sweet breadcrumbs and cinnamon to go anywhere. Another one likely to remain for the long haul: fan fave Ferrero Rocher, yeasted fried dough with Nutella, roasted hazelnuts, and feuilletine (crushed sweetened crêpes).
You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy doughnuts
The menu is straightforward – donuts ($3.65-$4.25 ea., 6/$24, 12/$46, holes (super creamy olive oil glazed lemon ricotta cake!) and local beverages ($2-$4.25) including Hale Coffee, Toronto-based Genuine Tea, Boylan Soda, Kawartha Dairy milks).
Did you know that on Wednesdays you can buy their homemade cinnamon buns? They come out of the oven around 11am, but sell out by noon, so get there early, or pre-order one (likely more) by calling the shop.
Eastbound and down
Parkdale is cool, but the eastside is knockin’ it outta the park these days. Just look to GHD’s talented neighbours: Godspeed Brewery, Lake Inez, Pinkerton’s Snack Bar, Poor Romeo, Sanagan's Meat Locker, and The Vatican Gift Shop,to name just a few.
The Gerrard St. location is bright and light, but don’t expect to sit and lounge here. Unlike the Queen West eatery, it’s teeny and there’s no tables, chairs or benches, though not for long: a window-side bar is planned for later this year. It is pretty though, so naturally you’ll be taking a lot of photos.
Don’t want to make the trek? You can order online, but you’ll miss out on the friendly, informed staff and punk music drifting out of the kitchen.
Besides, seeing these treats in person is really something. Eating them is even better.
Life is short. Eat more doughnuts. Specifically, these ones.
Glory Hole Doughnuts
1505 Gerrard St. E.
Sat & Sun 10am-5pm
For more photos, visit @toronto_restaurants on Instagram.