Whatever area of the state you are in, wherever you plan to go, chances are you’re going to find a classic fried breakfast pastry waiting at your destination. Arkansas is blessed with doughnuts. Whether it’s big fluffy golden flour rounds, flavorful cake rings or potato flour delights, there’s no shortage of good dough right here in the natural state. Here are some of the best.
The Largest: Craig Family Bakery, Van Buren
Forget about a Long John; the big doughnuts at this bakery on top of a hill barely fit in a cake box. Fully 12 inches in diameter, they come glazed or un-glazed, and if you like they’ll drizzle chocolate over the top. They taste just like the smaller doughnuts, but you’ll want to share one of these with two or three others. 805 Fayetteville Road. (479) 471-8800.
Potato Flour Power: Spudnuts in Magnolia and El Dorado
Once upon a time, there was a vast empire of potato flour doughnut shops across the United States. The franchise broke apart decades ago, but two stalwart locations continue to fry up hot, fresh rounds of golden goodness. The doughnuts themselves tend to have a more moist consistency within, with a nice crispness to the outside rarely duplicated with a traditional doughnut. They also taste marvelous. But you’d better eat them now; spudnuts have a good shelf life of about six hours. Day-olds just don’t taste right. Spudnut Shoppe at 810 West Faulkner in El Dorado, (870) 863-9914. Spudnut Shop in Magnolia at 612 East Main Suite B, (870) 234-2005.
Smush It: Jeri-Lyn’s Donuts, Blytheville
Talk about melt-in-your-mouth good; Jeri-Lyn’s serves up soft dissolving doughnuts that are light and decadent. An unusual topping of caramel is a local favorite, as is a special confection called the Smush: a caramel doughnut smashed on top of a housemade cinnamon roll. Unusual but scrumptious. 840 North 10th Street. (870) 763-9679.
Great Cakes: Marvelous Cake Doughnuts Around The State
A good cake doughnut is a completely different animal from a yeast doughnut. These are made from an entirely different batter and have a coarse, cake-like consistency.Ed’s Custom Bakery in Conway does a marvelous job with a large variety of these confections. They come out moist and crumbly, perfect to go with a cup of coffee. The default is to get the plain glazed cakes — they have just the lightest touch of sugar on the outside. But Ed’s also does chocolate-iced, coconut-covered and even sprinkle-packed. 256 Oak Street. (501) 327-2996.
Across town, you can find heavily frosted cake doughnuts at PattiCakes. The companion bakery to Stoby’s, PattiCakes offers unique cake doughnut flavors each day. My favorite is the Red Velvet. It’s almost completely covered in a cream cheese frosting/glaze; inside, the rich red velvet is soft and flavorful. 2106 Robinson Avenue. (501) 205-1969.
In Little Rock, the classic sour cream (also known as an old fashioned) doughnut is king at Community Bakery. These fried cake doughnuts may look a little strange, but they have a certain tang to them that sets them apart from everything else. They come in plain or chocolate-glazed and are the perfect milk dipping doughnuts. 1200 Main Street. (501) 375-6418.
The Best of the Chains
There are a few chain doughnut operations worthy of note in Arkansas. The first would be Irish Maid Do-Nuts. Irish Maid are rather sweet, with a sugary flavor to the yeasty rounds. Locations are spread out, with popular stores in Pine Bluff and Fort Smith. The Fort Smith location is open during traditional morning hours and reopens late at night to serve customers going in for third shift work at local plants.Daylight Donuts locations are spread out just about everywhere, a popular franchise that has a more firm doughnut to sell. You’ll find these everywhere from Springdale to the south side of Little Rock.Shipley’s has been around for decades with locations in and out of Arkansas. Shipley doughnuts are very yeasty and have large air pockets. They also have a very wide selection of filled doughnuts.