best dozen hannaford mixed dozen overhead

The Best Dozen: Hannaford

Hannaford donuts in a box

By Daniel B.

We've enlisted Daniel B. to survey Capital Region donut shops -- and pick his favorite donuts -- for a short series called The Best Dozen.

Donuts are defined by their garnishes. Yeast-raised donut shells aren't very fun on their own. They require something extra to make them come to life. It can be as simple as a dusting of sugar. But part of the joy comes from the variety of toppings and fillings that make these fried rounds of dough a sweet treat.

A professional baker might be able to detail the technical difference between glazes, icings and frostings. For the purpose of this series, glaze is a clear sugar coating; icing is a thin, dense top coat; and frosting is what you typically find on cakes.

At Hannaford, many of the donuts from their bakery appeared to be frosted and drizzled with a fudgy icing. An abundance of caution and gut instinct told me to avoid the ones with bright red icing. Past experience ruled out the specimens covered in sprinkles.

But there were still plenty left to try in the search for the best dozen, including a cro-dough.

About the shop

Hannaford Latham Farms exterior 2015-January

It stands to reason that the best donuts would be in one of the nicest Hannaford locations. So it was off to their large suburban store in the Latham Farms shopping center. Like the other supermarkets in the region, Hannaford's donuts are a self-serve operation.

All of the donuts are $.89 and there is no price break for committing to the full dozen. As far as I am concerned, anything resembling a donut that comes in at the $.89 level is fair game for the evaluation. At Hannaford that includes not only their croissant donut, but also their glazed cinnamon swirl.

They do a great job at creating a wide array of choices with different combinations and permutations of a limited number of ingredients. Different colored icings, the inclusion of sprinkles, and the use of powdered sugar are clever ways to pull off this feat. The only problem was one small bit of mislabeling. As it turned out, what I thought was a blueberry-filled donut was just a different icing treatment of their lemon donut. But that's the breaks.

The mixed dozen

best dozen hannaford mixed dozen overhead

Column by column, left to right.

Cake
Glazed
Cinnamon swirl /
White iced
Chocolate iced
Powdered lemon /
Iced lemon (not blueberry)
Iced raspberry
Boston cream /
Cro-dough
Chocolate glazed
Powdered chocolate

The best of the bunch

Cinnamon swirl
hannaford_best_dozen_cinnamon_swirl_donut.jpg

If you only eat one donut at Hannaford, make it this one. Sure, it may not look like a donut from the outside, but it's what inside that counts. That's where you'll find a moist and tender crumb, perfumed with cinnamon. The glaze adds a balanced sweetness that helps make this the best of the bunch by far.

The solid choices

Cake
hannaford_best_dozen_cake_donut.jpg

Biting into this donut is delightful, based almost entirely on the crispness of its exterior crust. The interior has a perfectly fine vanilla flavor, without any of the sweet spices typically associated with cake donuts. If that crisp exterior layer penetrated deeper into the crumb, this might be upgraded. As it stands, it's a totally solid version of the classic.

Cro-Dough
hannaford_best_dozen_croissant_donut_cross_section.jpg

It's not the croissant donut of my dreams, but it's less than a dollar. That's an unheard of price for this modern cult favorite. The cream filling and fudgy chocolate icing are on the sweeter side of the spectrum, but the richness of the croissant dough helps to offset the sweetness.

Chocolate glazed
Hannaford_best_dozen_chocolated_glazed_donut.jpg

People conflate chocolate glazed and chocolate iced all the time. This is a chocolate cake donut with a clear glaze, and it's delicious. It has a moist and rich crumb, with a crackling glaze, and just enough sweetness to make this donut a treat.

Powdered chocolate
hannaford_best_dozen_powdered_chocolate_donut.jpg

That same delicious chocolate cake donut is hiding beneath a layer of powdered sugar. Without the glaze, the crispness of the chocolate cake donut's crust is clearly evident. And like its plain cake cousin, the crust brings the crunch.

The disappointments

Glazed
hannaford_best_dozen_glazed_donut.jpg

Surprisingly flat with an oddly small hole. The coverage of the glaze itself is spotty. Its crumb has a bready smell and tougher, bread-like crumb. There's not enough glaze to adequately sweeten the thing. I can't find the point to eating it.

White iced
hannaford_best_dozen_white_iced_donut.jpg

The mounds of goopy white icing completely overwhelm what could very well be a delicate donut shell. In truth, no one will ever know because it's impossible to evaluate a donut with a mouth full of sticky, sugary goo. But it can get worse. There was a bit of red icing on this from an adjacent donut on the rack, and that was unpleasantly bitter and astringent. Stay away.

Chocolate iced
hannaford_best_dozen_chocolate_iced_donut.jpg

This donut's shell had some great color, but the icing once again kills it. Especially this "chocolate" one that has no aroma of cocoa. If you closed your eyes, you would have no idea what flavor this was trying to be. Take a pass.

Powdered lemon
hannaford_best_dozen_powdered_lemon_donut.jpg

Starchy. Super starchy lemon filling. The donut shell on this is really good. It's got a great crust with a crispy edge, and a tender crumb. But taking a great shell and stuffing it with a subpar filling is going to sink the donut.

Iced lemon
hannaford_best_dozen_iced_lemon_donut.jpg

What a disappointment. The sign said blueberry, but when I brought this donut home it was just another lemon. I have to say Hannaford's white icing works better with a creamy filling like this one, versus on its own. However, that's not to say this is a donut worth eating, because it's not. Unless, that is, you feel like mainlining lemon flavored sugar paste.

Iced raspberry jelly
hannaford_best_dozen_iced_raspberry_donut.jpg

Thick and starchy jelly that at least has the integrity to use real raspberry seeds. The raspberry jelly might be okay in some other donut, but the white icing on this one completely obliterates any flavors in its path. Still, this donut is a sugar fiend's delight.

Boston cream
hannaford_best_dozen_boston_cream_donut_cross_section.jpg

I've never seen such a heavily iced Boston cream donut in my life. The center tastes strongly of vanilla pudding. Honestly, it's not as bad as some of the other disappointments, but it's still mostly a sweet glob of mush. These donuts feel like they've been sent to Albany to torment me. Please, make them stop.

The best dozen

4 Cinnamon swirl
2 Cake
2 Chocolate glazed
2 Powdered chocolate
2 Cro-Dough

Supermarkets can make some delicious donuts. But in the wrong hands, icing can turn into a weapon of donut destruction.

The moral of this story is to avoid anything at Hannaford that is iced, because they use it more like frosting. "Glazed, powdered or plain" should be the mantra of anyone looking to fill up a box with a dozen of their own. The other thing to avoid would be ring shaped, yeast raised donuts. The filled shells all had better texture.

We didn't get a powdered jelly in our dozen, but I have faith that it would be solid. A powdered blueberry could go either way, depending on the quality of the filling. I may have to seek one out once this project is complete, just to silence the lingering question. The Cro-Dough also comes in a jelly, and I suspect that would be a solid choice as well.

Now you know, and should a donut craving hit as your walking through the aisles at Hannaford, at least you will be able to avoid the stinkers. And there are a lot of stinkers. Thank goodness for the cinnamon swirl.

Daniel B. is the proprietor of the FUSSYlittleBLOG.

More from The Best Dozen:
+ Schuyler Bakery
+ Cider Belly
+ ShopRite in Colonie
+ Stewart's
+ Cookie Factory in Troy
+ Market Bistro in Latham
+ Park Side Eatery in Saratoga Springs
+ Bella Napoli in Troy

Find It

Hannaford Latham
579 Troy Schenectady Road
Latham, NY 12110

Comments

The plain glazed cro-nut and the raspberry Jelly cro-nut are FAR superior to the Boston cream. Definitely give them a try if you have a chance. SO.GOOD.

Just looking at this batch made me gag slightly - I can almost feel that cheap birthday cake like frosting sliding down my esophagus. May god help you when it comes time to do Dunkin'....

" ...it's impossible to evaluate a donut with a mouth full of sticky, sugary goo."

Challenge accepted.

You know what? I'm going to draw strength from Kate Welshofer.

If she can do 5 shots of Aunt Jemima Original Light Syrup in about 30 seconds, I can get through the rest of my donuts.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ri4g9DCyuGI
(the madness starts at 3:20)

I had the Boston Creme Cro-Nut - not bad, especially considering it was the 5PM sole survivor of the batch.

Also had the Cinnamon Swirl- nice and light, but I didn't feel entaptured

I'm a fan of the plain chocolate donut- and agree that it has a nice crust

The folks in their bakery need a little training. At the EG store I picked 4 donuts from the tray labeled "powered lemon". The filling inside was a purple jelly of undetermined flavor - not lemon.

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