Tried and Tasted: Jamming the bakeries

This month’s column should really be called "Fried and Tasted."

Jelly Donuts 521 (photo credit: Amy Spiro)
Jelly Donuts 521
(photo credit: Amy Spiro)
As Hanukka approaches, practically every bakery, restaurant, convenience store and gas station starts selling doughnuts, the holiday’s traditional fried treat. And on the first anniversary of this column, I return to my very first topic: Sampling sufganiyot around the capital.
Many places dream up crazier doughnut offerings each year, while others stick to the classics: jam, custard, chocolate and the local favorite – caramel. Many bakeries have wide varieties for sale throughout the holiday, but there’s no guarantee on what you’ll find in stock at any given moment – some bakeries will have a different or expanded selection on the holiday itself.
For some semblance of fairness, I only sampled fried doughnuts, never baked, and I didn’t give any bakery a second chance. Of course, as any doughnut enthusiast can tell you, even the best sufganiya can turn hopelessly stale in a few hours. Bakeries were ranked on flavor, texture, frosting, filling, freshness and innovation.
All tested establishments are kosher.
Brooklyn Bakery: A-This tiny storefront in the Mea She’arim neighborhood is a must for all doughnut enthusiasts. Its offerings are – true to its name – very American-style in size, generosity of filling and texture of dough. The berry jam had a nice level of sweetness and there was plenty of it. This was one of the few doughnuts I wanted to finish during my travels (but you, of course, don’t have to sample 14).NIS 5 14 Mea She’arim Street
Kurtosh: A-This nationwide bakery is known for its namesake – a Hungarian cylindrical pastry. But its doughnuts – made on the premises – are no slouches either, and they’re getting in the spirit of things with a range of innovative flavors. The dough is nice and soft with a good flavor that isn’t too sweet, and a very chocolatey filling.
Varieties include jam, pastry cream, chocolate, caramel, sahlab, margarita and macchiato.NIS 6-8 3 Lunz Street
Kadosh: B+ More cafe than bakery, Kadosh nevertheless does a brisk business selling pastries and baked goods, and that should certainly be true of its doughnut selection. The sufganiya had a nice hint of crisp on the outside, and a very pleasant filling, though it was a little oily to the touch.
Varieties include chocolate, jam, halva and custard.NIS 8-10 6 Shlomzion Hamalka
Gagou de Paris (Yehuda Bakery): B+ This little French spot in the center of town always offers up slightly more eclectic baked goods than surrounding bakeries, from chocolate eclairs to fresh fruit and cream tarts. But it also gets into the Hanukka spirit with an array of doughnuts. The dough had a fairly yeasty undertone, but a nice chew with good flavor, and tasted fresh.
Varieties include glazed, caramel and jam.NIS 6 14 King George Street
Marzipan: B+ Marzipan, famous most for its chocolate rugelach and tourist appeal, has jumped on the doughnut bandwagon and offers customers a bright and varied selection of sufganiyot. The sample I had was fresh and had a nice chew, though it was a bit heavy, and not quite sweet enough.
Varieties include custard, jam, chocolate, almond and halva.NIS 5 14 Agrippas Street, 5 Rachel Imenu Street and 17 Tiferet Yisrael Street
Nechama: B The Nechama bakery has devoted serious counter space to the fried treats, in a variety of frosting colors and fillings, with plenty simply dusted in powdered sugar or glazed. The doughnut was actually not quite sweet enough, and had a slightly heavy dough, but a pleasant and generous filling.NIS 6 Varieties include jam, caramel, chocolate, custard, a combination of jam and custard and plain frosted.Five locations in Jerusalem Pe’er: B Pe’er’s doughnut had a nice light dough, though it was a bit too oily to the touch. The icing was a balanced sweetness level and paired well with the sufganiya.
Chocolate, jam and custard varieties available.NIS 4 5 Hamagid Street and Mahaneh Yehuda
Mr. Donuts: B Mr. Donuts doesn’t have its own storefront, but it sets up cases and kiosks at a variety of places across the country selling its fare, branded as “original American formula,” and its packaging bears an uncanny similarity to a certain well-known US chain. Like American doughnuts, the dough was very soft and light, but the frosting was tooth-achingly sweet and slightly artificial tasting.NIS 6 Varieties include chocolate, custard, jam, banana and frosted unfilled.Found at stands in various malls, ice cream stores, gas stations and supermarkets.
English Cake: B English Cake also likes to work on its innovative doughnut flavors for the holiday. Unfortunately the version I tried was decidedly unfresh, with a fairly bland flavor and not particularly sweet dough. The chocolate filling was rich and authentic- tasting, however.
Varieties include jam, caramel, chocolate, blueberry, pastry cream, halva and specialties including Ferrero Rocher, nougat, pina colada, Irish cream, lemon meringue and cheesecake.NIS 3-6 Six locations in Jerusalem
Ne’eman: B-In the past few years Ne’eman has gone all out with its doughnut innovation, dreaming up sufganiyot like the “petit four” – topped with pastry cream, mixed fruits and chocolate. Though I found Ne’eman’s offering last year almost inedible, I noticed a significant improvement this year.
The dough was still on the heavy side, but the frosting had a nice flavor and texture, without being overwhelming.
Varieties include jam, caramel, chocolate, white chocolate, espresso, sprinkle, peanut, chocolate mousse, petit four, meringue-topped and new this year, the “sabrina retro,” a sliced-open doughnut filled with pastry cream, rum and topped with a cherry.
NIS 4 to NIS 10 A dozen locations in Jerusalem
Lehem Tushia: B-When I visited Lehem Tushia with my trusty tasting crew two weeks before Hanukka, it had only jelly doughnuts for sale. The jelly had a nice flavor though the doughnut was a little on the dry side, and ultimately unmemorable.NIS 4.50 21 Ben Yehuda Street and 25 Aza Street
Roladin: B-In Jerusalem, and much of the country, Roladin has become synonymous with daring doughnuts, and it didn’t disappoint this year, including a crème brûlée doughnut, filled with crème anglaise and white chocolate and topped with a shard of hardened caramel, or a tiramisu version, filled with mascarpone cheese and coffee, topped with white chocolate and mascarpone with a “chaser” of latte that you can inject inside.
However, the doughnut I sampled had a weird chemical taste to it, though the chocolate filling and frosting was very rich. Roladin’s biggest sin, however, is posting all the doughnuts’ calorie counts.
Varieties include jam, caramel, chocolate, halva, sprinkles, cream, pistachio, crème brûlée and three versions with “chasers” – black forest, tiramisu and chocolate bianco.NIS 4.50-9.50 12 Hillel Street and the Mamilla Mall
Mifgash Hasheikh: B-This famed 24-hour post-clubbing eatery in Talpiot has expanded since its first bakery opened, and now serves more than just sahlab and burekas to late-night snackers. The bakery’s doughnut had a good sweetness level but a very heavy dough, and a generous filling but it had a fairly artificial flavor.
Chocolate, caramel and jam varieties are for sale.NIS 5 23 Ha’uman Street, 22 Hillel Street, Malha Mall and Mahaneh Yehuda
Duvshanit: C+ The Duvshanit stand inside Mahaneh Yehuda churns out cookies, breads and cakes all day long, but perhaps they should steer clear of the sufganiyot business. The doughnut I sampled was not fresh tasting and was too dense, with a caramel filling that was gummy and unappealing.
Caramel and jam varieties available.
NIS 3 Mahaneh Yehuda
Halla, falafel, pizza, ice cream, shakshuka – I’ve been busy over the past year testing foods to uncover the best and worst in Jerusalem. So tell me – what do you want to see me taste next? Drop me an email at Thanks!