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Doughbot dominates Donut Showdown

Victory for the small Sacramento doughnut shop, Doughbot Donuts! Last night Donut Showdown aired on Food Network Canada where Chief Doughnaut Bryan Widener and Dannah O’Donnell competed against two other artisan doughnut makers. After making it through the first elimination round, Widener won the final round was a trio of imaginative raised doughnuts that impressed the judges.

For the rest of this post I’ll be using "donut" instead of "doughnut" in keeping with the show.

Last fall Doughbot got a phone call and was being invited to compete on Donut Showdown, the Canadian version of Cupcake Wars. The week after Thanksgiving, Widener and O’Donnell closed up shop to fly to Toronto for filming.

Like our Cupcake Wars, Donut Showdown is a cooking competition with eliminations. The difference is that Cupcake Wars has three rounds and four teams while Donut Showdown has two rounds and three teams. Cupcake Wars is an hour show, Donut Showdown is only a half hour. The prize is $10,000 (Canadian). Luckily the exchange rate is pretty equivalent right now.

The Donut Showdown judges include chefs Zane Caplansky, Maggie McKeown, David Rocco, and Danny Boome. An interesting fact I learned was that Boome never tastes the donuts or any food from any shows he appears on. No reason is given, it’s just some personal rule he follows. How you can judge without tasting, I don’t know.

Each show has a theme and last night’s was "Camping". The other two competitors were Jacey from Gimme Sugar Catering in Salt Lake City and Mark Klebeck from Top Pot Doughnuts in Seattle. Donuts might be big in Canada, but all three competitors this round were from the U.S.

The first round of the competition included special ingredients used in cake donuts. The three competitors drew numbers to be able to pick from a selection. First was Klebeck who chose chocolate, ricotta, and sweetened condensed milk. Widener selected root beer, kirsch, and longanberry. Jacey was left with strawberries, cream cheese, and an exotic fruit.

Widener’s root beer donut was a favorite of judge Rocco, who was impressed by the texture. Jacey was eliminated when her cake donut ended up undercooked and raw in the center.

The final, two hour round was for yeast raised donuts. Widener and Klebeck had to come up with three donuts to go with the theme of "Camping". The obvious choice was a S’Mores donut, which Widener often makes with homemade marshmallows. "We ended up scratching that idea since there was not going to be enough time to make the marshmallows," said O’Donnell. "They only had marshmallow fluff on hand." They also opted not to use their vegan recipe. "Our vegan recipe can be kinda iffy and we wanted to be on the safe side," explained Widener.

Widener and O’Donnell switched their game plan and created…

The PBJ donut is something they make in their store locally. For the show version they amped it up a bit by adding honey roasted peanuts and slices of banana on top. The center is filled with grape jelly.

The Baked Potato donut was a favorite of judge McKeown. It was split open like a potato, filled with a sour cream/cream cheese filling, and topped with diced mint, some red sprinkles for bacon bits, and butter pats that O’Donnell created using white chocolate. They then wrapped it up in foil.

The Chocolate Beer donut had beer in the batter and then topped with chocolate, beer nuts, and pretzels.

Widener was the clear winner based on creativity and presentation. Asked what their plans are for the $10,000 prize, O’Donnell said, "We are going to sit on it for a while. We’re unsure what the taxes will be like since the funds are coming from Canada."

The Camping donuts were going to be featured this week in the shop, but last night the Food Network announced that the show will be airing in the United States soon. Widener decided that he will wait for the U.S. airing. You can get his S’Mores and PBJ donuts in the shop as they are a regular menu item. There are also plans for a viewing party as soon as they receive the DVD from the show.

If you want to try some donut recipes provided by some of the competitors, there is a Donut Showdown recipe booklet which includes Doughbot’s recipes for Pistachio Cake Donuts with Cardamom Saffron Honey Glaze and Donut Bread Pudding.

Doughbot Donuts is located at 2226 10th St.

(916) 444 5157

Closed Mondays & Tuesdays
Wed Thru Sun, 7am – 2pm

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