Strawberry season is upon us and I am doing my darnedest to enjoy it to the fullest. For me, that means going out and picking them as many times as possible. Some of my favorite places in Massachusetts to pick strawberries include Verrill Farm, Land’s Sake Farm, and Russell Orchards. Last weekend we were passing through Connecticut though and I decided to research some pick-your-own options there. There are several farms and orchards in the area, though Dondero Orchards in South Glastonbury, near Hartford, quickly stood out for one reason: cider doughnuts.
The orchard is located down a winding road, past charming houses and a few other farms. We pulled up to the old wooden building that houses the farm store. Inside were quarts of strawberries, baked goods and dozens of types of jam. My priority, though, was the doughnuts. I spotted a tray with two lone doughnuts remaining. I had intended to purchase more than two. I asked the girl at the checkout counter, “Are there more doughnuts by any chance.”
Her reply: “Not already made but I could go fry some up.”
Me: “…Are you serious???!!”
Her: “Yeah, it’ll be about ten minutes though.”
Me: “Take your time!! I’ll go pick some berries!”
So off we went to the fields while the doughnuts went into the fryer.
I was equally excited about picking strawberries, though it ended up being not the most fruitful. The staff had warned us that pickings were slim, which is easily understood, but we were surprised at how weeded over the field was. I had the strong urge to get down in the dirt and do a good hour or so of weeding. I didn’t. We managed to pick about a quart’s worth of decent berries before heading back to the farm store, where the previously empty tray now held a nice pile of fresh, warm doughnuts.
This doughnut absolutely falls into the top three cider doughnuts I’ve had. Being fresh out of the fryer always helps but I have had fresh doughnuts that disappointed, so there is more to it than that. The strength of this doughnut lay in its flavor. Even though they’re called cider doughnuts, I often have difficulty detecting any real cider flavor. Most of the flavor comes from the fact that they’re fried and have a cinnamon-sugar coating. I was almost shocked when I bit into this doughnut and found that it had flavor beyond the fried, cinnamon-sugar exterior. It tasted slightly candied or caramelized, almost as if the dough were made with an apple cider reduction. I didn’t get a chance to inquire about the ingredients, but I do intend to call and see what I can find out. In addition to this wonderfully complex flavor, it had all of the other attributes of a winning doughnut: crisp exterior, fluffy interior, and a slight crunch from the cinnamon-sugar coating.
One of the great things about cider doughnuts is that they have no season. Sure I tend to associate them more with the fall, but thankfully farms like this one are happy to fry them up year round. Dondero Orchards is conveniently located just ten minutes off of I-91 or 84, so if you are traveling that way sometime this summer or fall, I highly recommend making a pit stop here. And if you like your doughnuts fresh out of the fryer, apparently all you need to do is ask.
529 Woodland Street
South Glastonbury, CT