Doughnuts. They're bloody everywhere. It's not just jam doughnuts from the bakery anymore, either – this new generation of baked goods is artisan, and in certain areas of London, there's hardly a cafe left that doesn't have them on offer. We noticed a particularly strong concentration of them in SE1; whether you love jam- or cream-filled ones, a stroll from Bermondsey through London Bridge and on towards the South Bank will showcase all different kinds of doughy-goodness. We grabbed taste-test-team Louisa and Ziad, and set off to investigate if the artisan-price tags deliver what they promise.

ROUND ONE

 
 

Butterscotch, custard, rhubarb jam, lemon curd, £2.50

BUTTERSCOTCH

The dough is really good, so soft. But I’m not a fan of the butterscotch. It’s quite bland. But the dough is great.
— Ziad
If you like butterscotch, you’ll like this doughnut. It’s very creamy but there’s not a lot of aftertaste. The texture is really nice, these doughnuts taste homemade.
— Louisa

RHUBARB JAM

It’s nice! It’s sweet and sour in one, really nice jam. The dough is real nice, It’s a really nice texture. It’s not too sweet, and has a nice jumpiness. The little holes make it springy. It’s so tangy and fresh inside. It’s perfectly balanced.
— Louisa
Mmmh. This one is good. The sweet and the sour balances each other out. It’s really fresh.
— Ziad

LEMON CURD

I like this one. It tastes like a lemon cheescake – cream-cheesey and soft, but not too rich, with some bits of lemon rind. Or like a citrus tart, but in a doughnut. This one is the best one.
— Ziad
This tastes like real lemon, not fake lemon. That’s hard to do with a doughnut. I’m sure the orange peel in the dough helps, and the rind in the filling.
— Louisa

CUSTARD

This is super creamy. It’s like eating vanilla cream. I’m not a fan. Maybe if it had some jam? You can really taste how fresh these are though.
— Ziad
The vanilla taste is subtle, the filling is very creamy. I don’t love the cream – I prefer custard. But that’s just me! Maybe if it was coated in chocolate...
— Louisa


St John Bakery, 72 Druid Street, London SE1 2HQ

 

ROUND TWO

 
 

Vanilla Glaze Ring, Raspberry Jam, Sea Salt Caramel & Banana, Apple & Pear Crumble, Choc Truffle Ring, Vanilla Custard Creme Brûlée (clockwise from top left),        £2.50-£3.50

VANILLA GLAZE RING

This is like an ordinary glazed doughnut. The sourdough is so thick. It reminds me of a burger bun.
— Ziad
It’s super sweet. Real nice vanilla. A bit denser than I was expecting, not so bouncy. But super tasty. This is like a staple doughnut. I’d go for this one if I came here again, it’s the staple option. Sometimes all you want is a good, classic doughnut.
— Louisa

VANILLA CUSTARD CRÈME BRÛLÉE   

The topping tastes like a candied apple. Proper sweet candy. Way too sticky, the sugar keeps getting stuck to my teeth.
— Ziad
Hmm. The crunch of the caramel glaze is really nice, but the inside is just vanilla [blows a raspberry]. It’s quite heavy.
— Louisa

SEA SALT CARAMEL & BANANA

So, so good. The brownie crumble on top, the caramel, the banana – it’s so good, so creamy. It’s rich but balanced, and all the flavours go together well. It blends perfectly. It’s like a banana brownie.
— Ziad
The cream tastes like a banana split ice cream Sunday. The sourdough is a bit stiff and dry. It reminds me of a seventies rug.
— Louisa

CHOC TRUFFLE RING

This tastes like a hot chocolate doughnut. The powder on top reminds me of what you get on top of a store-bought hot chocolate; even the filling inside tastes like a milky hot chocolate.
— Ziad
It’s really tough. Meh. It’s like a ganache on top – I’d like it to be harder on top. This one is a bit like a supermarket doughnut.
— Louisa

RASPBERRY JAM

 
The jam is too sour for me. The dough is too thin, and I don’t like the seeds in the jam.
— Ziad
It’s actual pieces of raspberry! mmmmh!! Real good, jam is delicious, and it’s totally packed. But the dough is a bit thin. At St John you had a proper bounce – this is just bouncy where the filling is. I really like the jam though.
— Louisa

APPLE & PEAR CRUMBLE

Mmmh. Mmmmh! Mmmmh. This is the best one. Oh my god. As soon as you bite it, you get immediate flavour of the icing and the pecan, and then the apple and the pear is so sweet and so soft, it just goes well. It’s like an apple pear pie. If you had ice cream with this? Oh my god!
— Ziad
This really tastes like Christmas, it’s got all those flavours. Vanilla, cinnamon, orange peel. It tastes a bit like a strudel.
— Louisa

Crosstown doughnuts served at B Street Deli, Bermondsey Street, SE1 3UB

 
 

ROUND THREE

 
 

Reese's Peanut Butter, Caramelised Biscoff, £1.90

CARAMELISED BISCOFF

Feels hard already. It feels stiff. It’s got a cinnamon flavour to it. It’s really sickly. The crumb on top isn’t very nice.
— Ziad

REESE'S PEANUT BUTTER

It doesn’t look very bouncy. It’s kind of just like sugar that melts in your mouth. It’s so sweet that it makes my teeth hurt. It does taste like a Reeses cup, but the dough itself tastes like it’s been sitting there for ages. The cream in the middle is nice, nice texture. You know when you have a loaf of white bread and you squeeze it together? It’s exactly like that, you can squeeze this into a pea-sized ball.
— Louisa

Krispy Kreme, London Bridge Railway Station, Joiner Street, London SE1 9SP

 

ROUND FOUR

Creme caramel & salted honeycomb, velvet chocolate, classic vanilla, £2.50

CREME CARAMEL & SALTED HONEYCOMB

Hmm...milky. You can really taste the honeycomb. It’s nice and crunchy, too. The dough is really soft, really easy to chew. When you eat the honeycomb, it’s kind of like crunching sand. It’s bound to be crunchy, but it’s a bit too much filling.
— Ziad
 

CLASSIC VANILLA

Squidgy! Mmh. The texture is wobbly and fluffy, which is great. The other vanilla doughnut was more like a mousse, this is more custard-y. The texture of the doughnut is fantastic. It’s a bit like a Portuguese custard tart – if you like those, you’ll love these.
— Louisa
This dough tastes like the dough at St John, with the orange rind in it, which is nice. It gives that zest to the fattyness. I think they’re being too generous with the cream, but if you love a creamy filling, this is a really good one. The flavours are nice. It’d be great with an afternoon coffee. You can tell it’s really high quality.
— Louisa

VELVET CHOCOLATE

It tastes like a Terry’s chocolate bar. But much better. The filling is just right, the amount is perfect. It’s like a chocolate Sunday. It tastes so fresh, you can really tell they’re well-made. And I love that the filling is cold.
— Ziad
It’s like cocoa chocolate. It tastes like cocoa bean powder more than melted chocolate. The orange rind in the dough with the chocolate makes it a bit like a jaffa cake. It’s like chocolate pudding. Good cream, very good cream.
— Louisa

Bread Ahead at Borough Market, 8 Southwark Street, London SE1 1TL

 

ROUND FIVE

 
 

Classic churros with sugar and cinnamon, £4

This tastes like sugary chips. Really crispy, with a potato-ish texture. There’s nothing better than melted chcoclate. It’s quite oily compared to the doughnuts. This would be a perfect cinema snack – like popcorn, it’s easy to eat. And less messy than a doughnut.
— Ziad
The sauce is really dark, deep chocolate-y – like a swiss hot chocolate. The texture is like a doughnut – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
— Louisa

Churros Garcia at Real Food Market, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX

 

THE VERDICT

I really liked St John’s rhubarb. It was really simple, and a really nice type of fruit to have in a doughnut. I like the sweet-sourness of it, and I liked the texture, too. It was very very good.

I love the simplicity of a good doughnut. I think it’s a great gimmick to have loads of flavours, but it’s more important to get your staples right. I would always go back to St John for a jam one. I did like Bread Ahead’s vanilla – that’d be my favourite if I liked crème doughnuts more than jam ones.

We got a lot of stick last time for letting Five Guys win, and not the artisan burgers. Well, they were really good! Whereas this time, it is the artisans that win.
— Louisa

The best one was the Apple & Pear Crumble Crosstown doughnut, at B Street Deli. That one took me to the moon and back.

That was the best one – the flavour, the texture and the mixture – apple and pear always goes well for me. I remember when I first bit into it, it took me out of my body, and then I cam back into it, and I was like, Oh my God. That was so good. I want to eat that again!

If you could get the dough from St John and the flavours from Crosstown, it’d be the worlds best doughnut. And Bread Ahead’s vanilla was a close second. I like the ones with crazy mixtures – they challenge themselves, and it’s unexpected. You know when Homer does the “Mmm, doughnuts”? That’s me right now with the apple and pear.
— Ziad