H and I were talking the other day about changing trends in baked goods (the most important trends on which to maintain up-to-date information), and determined we are both quite happy with the shift from cupcakeries to donut/doughnut shops. While a cupcake can still be a perfectly wonderful thing (Washington DC’s Baked and Wired or the ever-wonderful Sprinkles come to mind), too many of these cupcakeries sold giant cupcakes that looked much better than they tasted and were too large to fit into your mouth without replicating a scene from Jaws. Once cupcakes require forks, knives, and napkins and start giving you sushi face if you dare to try to actually take a bite of both the cake and frosting together, it’s time to move on.
Last weekend we did just that. A famous Los Angeles donut shop called Stan’s Donuts opened a location in Chicago, and we drove over to Wicker Park to check it out and do some people watching. The location couldn’t be better (right under the blue line station but tons of convenient street parking nearby) and the weather was great: mid-60s and sunny. Hipster parents and hipster children were everywhere. The decor is pretty snazzy too: a little retro but bright and colorful with a wall of kitchen-aid mixers (it’s like they decorated their business just for me!). There isn’t a ton of seating but there’s enough to go around. The best thing about Stan’s Donuts (well, other than the donuts) is their decision to stay open each evening until 9:00 p.m. (even on Sundays!) and to bake fresh donuts all day long. Stan and his people believe that fresh delicious donuts should be available all day, not just at 6:00 a.m., and I couldn’t agree more.
H and I sampled a blueberry fritter (his favorite), a captain crunch cereal milk-filled donut (pictured above), and a lemon-pistachio old-fashioned cake donut (my choice). We found the captain crunch to be a bit heavy on the filling — I don’t like filling in donuts typically, so no surprise there — but the filling really did taste exactly like captain crunch cereal milk and the donut was remarkably good. H powered through the blueberry fritter and most of the captain crunch (sans filling), and I enjoyed my lemon-pistachio with a large Intelligentsia coffee. (I’m still not sold on Intelligentsia coffee yet, but I’m trying to embrace it as it is Chicago’s bean of choice.)
In our family, donuts may have always been superior to store-bought cupcakes, but recently its more obvious how clearly they have taken the lead. Have you arrived in donut country yet? Still loving cupcakes, or the “healthy” addiction, frozen yogurt? If you have a favorite place, share in the comments below or link me up on Twitter!