A short tour of Capital Region doughnuts

schuyler glazed donut

A glazed doughnut from the Schuyler Bakery

By Kalyn Belsha

After watching an episode of Donut Paradise on The Travel Channel, I had a major craving for a good, homemade ring-shaped cake fried in fat (yup, that is Merriam Webster's definition of a doughnut).

Knowing Dunkin' Donuts was just not going to cut it, I embarked on a two-day doughnut tour of Albany and Troy, eating my way through the best of the best bakeries around.

After the jump, check out whose doughnuts were able to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Schuyler Bakery

637 3rd Avenue, Watervliet (map)
Hours: Tues - Fri 5:00 am - 6:00 pm, Sat 5:00 am - 3:00 pm, closed Sun and Mon

schuyler bakery signIts namesake may recall an historic American Revolution general, but the doughnuts at Schuyler in Watervliet are anything but old. In fact, the sweet treats are baked fresh daily and every doughnut is hand-cut (no machines here!). Open for 56 years, Schuyler Bakery uses many of the recipes that co-owners Jay and Bill Halayko's parents used when they first started the business.

The glazed doughnuts are the most popular, Jay says, and it's easy to tell why. Covered in sticky, sugary goodness on the top and bottom, the glazed doughnuts are not too sweet, and perfectly moist with a puffy inside. The establishment also sells Boston cream, powdered black raspberry jelly (the jelly comes from a vendor in Poughkeepsie that sells exclusively to Schuyler's), apple cider, lemon-filled and old-fashioned doughnuts, which were a bit plain for my taste but a bakery regular suggested taking one home and rolling it in sugar. Iced jelly-filled sticks with sprinkles, cinnamon rings and cinnamon jelly sticks also speckle the doughnut trays. And each one costs just 40 cents or $4.50 for a dozen. At that price, the local competition just couldn't keep up. "I'm the reason Krispy Kreme went out of business," says Jay.

A heads-up: there's no inside seating and Schuyler is cash-only.

Sherry Lynn's Gluten Free

836 Troy-Schenectady Road, Latham (map)
Hours: Mon - Wed 8:00 am - 5:00 pm, Thurs - Sat 8:00 am - 8:00 pm, closed Sun

sherry lynns boston creamShe may have just celebrated her one-year anniversary at her Latham location, but Sherry Lynn's doughnuts are no novice-made treat. I have a close friend who's gluten-intolerant, so I'd tasted other non-wheat bakery items and didn't have high hopes that these doughnuts would satisfy my craving. But I was wrong.

The shop has a decent variety of doughnuts priced at $1.50 a piece, including glazed, glazed blueberry jelly, plain, apple cider (usually on Friday and Saturday), and apple cider fritter balls (usually Monday through Thursday). On Fridays and Saturdays, they also make their famous Boston cream-filled doughnuts, which are a little pricier than the other doughnuts at $2.25 a piece, but well worth it. The outside has just the right amount of crisp while the inside is surprisingly dense. The cream itself has a nice thick consistency, but is not too sweet, and a swiggle of chocolate tops off the whole treat. If you didn't tell me, I'd never have known it was gluten-free. You can sit and enjoy your doughnut either inside or outside.

The Cookie Factory

520 Congress Street, Troy (map)
Hours: Tues - Sat 7:00 am - 7:00 pm, Sun 7:00 am - 5:00 pm, closed Mon

cookie factory jelly donutDon't let the name fool you, The Cookie Factory makes some of the best doughnuts around. The menu changes daily, but some of the regulars include: glazed, frosted strawberry jelly, powdered strawberry jelly, Boston cream, strawberry-frosted, apple cider, cherry-filled and chocolate glazed. The double-dipped doughnut, which is covered in glaze and a secret blend of cinnamon and other spices, runs out early in the day. Also on the menu: cinnamon twists and apple fritters. Each doughnut is just 60 cents, making these treats both affordable and delicious.

Because the staff told me the bakery was known for having the best glazed doughnuts, I had to try one. It was a light golden color with a thin glaze on both sides that tasted of a touch of honey. Amazingly light and airy, I finished this doughnut in about three bites. I can say the staff wasn't lying -- definitely the best glazed doughnut I tasted on the tour.

Bella Napoli

721 River Street, Troy (map)
Corner of Routes 9 and 155, Latham (map)
Hours: Mon - Sun 6:00 am - 10:00 pm (both locations)

bella napoli cinnamon sugar twistSince Bella Napoli was crowned the best bakery in the Capital Region by the Times Union last year, I was eager to put it to the test.

As Daniel B has pointed out, the doughnuts are made in the Troy location and trucked over to the Latham store, so if you want them extra fresh and hot, the Troy location is your best bet.

The variety is subject to change, but Bella Napoli usually carries glazed, chocolate-frosted, cinnamon sugar, Boston cream, blueberry jelly and powdered doughnuts. The bakery also has cinnamon sugar twists, cake doughnut twists and plain twists.

After another customer told me his friend, who's a cop, credits Bella Napoli with the best jelly doughnuts in town, I felt compelled to try one. I was definitely not disappointed -- the doughnut was softer than the jelly doughnut at The Cookie Factory and the blueberry filling tasted less like preserves and more like real jelly. Extra powdered sugar, too. The cinnamon twist had a nice light coating of cinnamon sugar, so it wasn't too sweet, and would be a good choice for anyone without a huge sweet tooth.

Inside seating is available at the Latham location for those who want to savor their doughnut sitting down. Doughnuts are 75 cents each.

Earlier on AOA: A cider donut from Lakeside evoked a moment of Autumn zen.

Comments

Not a fan of those confections -- but for a good cider doughnut, The Farm at Kristy's Barn in Schodack can't be beat.

I know it's not quite a doughnut but you should try the apple fritter at Bella Napoli next time. You will not be disappointed. They are huge, crisp on the outside, soft and flavorful on the inside and jam packed with apples. Absolute heaven. Now that I'm thinking about them I might just have to go grab one for lunch.

The Cookie Factory is in our neighborhood, I definitely agree on the glazed doughnuts, and when you're looking for a non-doughnut object of the sweet tooth, check out their cinnamon rolls--amazingly good.

LOVE the Schuyler Bakery - it is worth noting they are a peanut free bakery..and of course friendly and nice and serve yummy baked goods!

Kalyn, you are an eater after my own heart. Only more adventurous and cooler.

This donut list is awesome - and now I've got to try out at least one of them later today. I just saw the Schuyler Bakery a few weeks ago and have yet to check it out - I'd never heard of it before driving by, and with donuts like that... I've gotta give them a try.

A donut post followed by a maternity clothes hunt? Is there something you wanted to tell us?

I've been looking for a good glazed, and while I have been to the Cookie Factory, I never tried their donuts.

How exciting to have a promising new prospect.

I'll say the glazed at Schuyler are better than the glazed at Bella Napoli. But neither are all that great. The glaze is too thin at Bella Napoli and the interior of the donuts at Schuyler I find to be a bit too toothsome (I do enjoy their Boston cream though).

The crust on the cake donuts at Bella Napoli is unbelievable. It is always an impossible decision to choose between a stuffed yeast donut or some version of the cake. In the end, I succumb and just get them both.

Does anyone remember that Krispy Kreme? I have to say, more than a little part of me got some kind of satisfaction when they went out of business...just sayin'

@jess: I remember driving by the Krispy Kreme around the time it opened -- there was a traffic jam because of the place.

Now it's a Starbucks.

I'm new to the Albany area and was rather shocked at the ridiculous number of Dunkin Donut locations. There are three within four miles of my apartment! Fortunately (for my waistline), I am not a fan. I do come from the land of Krispy Kreme and have to say I dearly miss the fresh from the oven warm glazed. I also dearly loved some of the Mom & Pop type donut shops of my old hometown and noticed a lack of these here in DunkinDonutLand. I look forward to checking out Schuyler's sometime.

Just a note, I'm a stone's throw away from Zachary's Pastry Shop in East Greenbush. I HIGHLY recommend them for all things sweet (except donuts.. don't think they have them). Their pear marzipan tart is absolutely to-die-for.

I remember that crazy Krispy Kreme boom (and ulitmately bust) when cars were gridlocked to get in. I went once to see what the fuss was about. Bleh. Not that Dunkin' Donuts are good either (though they seem a bit more substantial).

Based on this post I stopped by the Cookie Factory and tried the "double dipped" doughnut and it is pretty fabulous.

I was never a fan of jelly doughnuts, but I'd heard more than once that Bella Napoli has the greatest jelly doughnuts. I was in Troy a few weeks ago and succumbed to temptation.

Their powdered strawberry filled doughnut was one of the best doughnuts I've ever eaten. Seriously good stuff.

I'll have to give Schuyler Bakery a try next time I'm in that area. I do love Boston Creams.

P.S. Am I the only fuddy-duddy who shudders at the 'donut' spelling? I believe it's become accepted, but I still like doughnut better.

SO glad to see Schulyer Bakery on here. Their doughnuts are the absolute best I have ever had.
if you go, definitely try a loaf of the cinnamon swirl bread and their version of the fudge fancy too. SO delish.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Just came back from a donut bender and am about to succumb to a sugar coma. But before I slip into the abyss, I wanted to say how good the glazed donuts were at the Cookie Factory. They are the best of the type I've had in the region.

The double dipped were tasty, but a bit too sweet for me. I am blaming that specimen for my current condition.

Still sticking to Bella Napoli for cake and jelly. And the jury is still out on if Schulyer makes a better Boston cream than BN. But I need to save that showdown for another day.

Golden Harvest in Valatie has hands down the BEST apple cider donuts.

So this isn't a story about Capital Region donuts per se, although the delicious article above (and I'm extremely proud of our donut making resources here in the area) inspired me to share. I was recently in Kyoto, Japan where I was informed by a Japanese friend that Mr. Donut was very popular. This talk of donuts insighted in me a urge to indulge, so passing through Kyoto station, I found myself in a long queue at a Mr. Donut stand and, not able to really speak or read Japanese, quickly pointed at two delicious looking donuts. The first was a lovely chocolate pudding filled donut and I was looking forward to its successor. Imagine my surprise then, when I bit expectantly into the perfectly crusted golden brown baked exterior and a soft creamy curry jelly erupted into my mouth...yup, curry jelly. It's probably time to learn Japanese, but I ate the whole thing - it was very tasty.

I work at Bella Napoli and feel the need to address a few mistakes in the article. The donuts for the Latham location are all made fresh between the hours of 12 and 4am daily in the Latham store, only Troy's are made in Troy. We also offer old fashioned donuts, boston cream, apple fritters and coffee rolls. The donuts are 85 cents a piece, 4.95 for half dozen, and 7.95 for a dozen.

New to the area. Does anyone know of vegan donuts anywhere? We've been to X's and O's in Troy and it was good, but so far from us. We live in Schenectady.

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