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The Short Version: Dough Doughnuts takes a different approach to its pastries by crafting lighter, brioche-style doughnuts — as opposed to its heavier, sugary counterparts. Couples who stop by for a treat won’t get a doughnut that’s been sitting out all day, as Dough makes its treats in small batches throughout the day. These unique distinctions have earned Dough a devoted following, both in its hometown of New York City and around the world. From Brooklyn to Japan, artisanal doughnut-loving people may be standing in line for hours to get a taste — but it’s worth the wait.
New York City’s Dough Doughnuts is more than just a place for people to find a sweet treat; the shop is all about creating experiences. Dough accomplishes that in a variety of ways, including partnering with companies looking to add a sweet food component to their marketing efforts.
“We’ve done a partnership with Nike and Kevin Durant. We made a doughnut to match the launch of his new sneaker,” Co-Owner Steven Klein said.
The company has developed all kinds of connections between doughnuts and popular culture, even creating emoji-decorated doughnuts for a Twitter shindig.
Couples who have a predilection for doughnuts often get in on the action, as well. Steven recalls a time when someone proposed in a Dough shop using some personalized doughnuts.
“We made four doughnuts that spelled out ‘Will you marry me?’ And when the couple held their engagement party, they also served our doughnuts,” Steven said.
These one-of-a-kind experiences fit into Dough’s philosophy of offering clients a different kind of doughnut — and doughnut shop. Dough’s offerings are lighter and fluffier than most doughnuts, following a brioche recipe rather than the typical American doughnut offering. Further, Dough’s doughnuts are made in small batches instead of sitting behind a counter all day.
Dough fans are willing to wait, with the experience sometimes lasting late into a memorable date night. Even if you and your partner have to wait for an hour for a doughnut, Steven said you won’t regret your decision.
“People are always happy after eating a doughnut. Once they take a bite, they smile,” he told us.
When Dough was founded in 2010, there weren’t many artisanal, handmade doughnut shops. Instead, most people would find them at either a national chain or a grocery store, where doughnuts are made on a mass scale by machines rather than by hand.
Dough wanted to do things differently, and it has. So much so that is has become one of the most unique doughnut shops in the country. The founders of Dough saw many shops specializing in dense, sweet cake doughnuts.
In contrast, Dough uses a brioche and yeast recipe that allows it to create pastries that are lighter than those doughnuts with more texture. Every batch is made using European-style butter and special ingredients and is proofed twice (so it won’t collapse).
“We have created a delicious brioche doughnut that goes better with coffee because it’s lighter,” Steven said.
The shop also stands out because it doesn’t let doughnuts linger behind the counter. Instead, the dough is made in small batches throughout the day and is only deep-fried when a customer requests it. Then, a Dough employee rolls, fries, and glazes the doughnut — all while the customer waits.
“When you come to us, you know you’re getting a fresh doughnut, rather than one that’s been sitting there all day,” Steven adds.
Watching the Dough staff create doughnuts is half the fun. At any one of Dough’s several locations, guests can be found excitedly watching doughnuts being made in the open kitchen.
“When people come, they get to see the process, and, when they look in, they see us fry by hand and glaze by hand,” Steven said.
Since its inception, Dough has steadily grown a devoted following of doughnut lovers. In addition to its original dough recipe, the shop has gained popularity for its assortment of flavorful toppings. Each creation is topped with both a flavored glaze and an additional topping.
For example, the company’s popular Red Velvet Cheesecake doughnut has a cream cheese frosting topped with red velvet cake crumbs. The Lemon Meringue doughnut is filled with lemon curd and topped with a toasted Italian meringue. Other popular combinations include Boston Cream, Dulce de Leche, and Cheesecake doughnuts.
“Around 90% of our flavors are known for their use in cakes and pastries, but no one has ever done those in doughnuts,” Steven said. “Our doughnuts are not overly sweet, and they have a good flavor.”
The most notable concoction may be the Hibiscus doughnut. The brightly colored doughnut is made with a Mexican hibiscus glaze for a tangy flavor and then topped with a hibiscus flower. Steven said he thinks the unusual flavor is what put Dough on the map.
“That led ‘The Food Network’ to name us the best doughnut shop in New York State and one of the best in the country,” Steven said.
Dough has steadily grown its reach throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, and other New York City boroughs. The shop does have a large-scale fresh dough production facility in the Flatiron District. From there, the doughnuts are taken to Dough kiosks in Grand Central Station and Times Square, as well as to a store in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.
Further, the shop’s doughnuts are available at dozens of locations throughout the city, and every morning Dough delivers doughnuts to more than 100 coffee shops and many upscale stores.
“What we’ve done, from a marketing point of view, is covered the city,” Steven said. “And now we have a cult following and brand recognition.”
Dough has gained devotees in the United States, but doughnut lovers from around the world are also excited about the shop’s unique offerings. At a recent Dough pop-up shop event in Japan, guests waited an average of three hours to secure one of Dough’s delicacies.
Just like at home, international patrons appreciate the uniqueness of a Dough doughnut. Some like the different sizes available, ranging from the popular doughnut holes to the extra-large version that’s about two-and-half times the size of a typical cake doughnut.
That’s why Dough has regular offers to expand its brand outside of New York.
“If we don’t like what we do, we won’t do it. Our doughnuts still have to look good and taste good, and our shop has to represent who we are. We want the doughnuts to be what people like.” Steven Klein, Dough Co-Owner
“We have offers to bring our products to the Middle East and Dubai, and the rest of the United States,” Steven said.
Before that happens, though, the team has plans to continue to expand its reach throughout New York. Steven said that Dough is already one of the largest producers of artisanal doughnuts in the U.S., but the staff needs to gain experience producing doughnuts on a larger scale. As the business expands, the doughnuts still need to retain their excellent quality.
“You need the right staffing, and the whole process needs to be monitored,” Steven said.
But no matter what happens with Dough in the future, its business philosophy ensures it will keep quality foremost in mind.
“If we don’t like what we do, we won’t do it. Our doughnuts still have to look good and taste good, and our shop has to represent who we are. We want the doughnuts to be what people like,” Steven told us.