One such small business is Borough 22, whose eye-catching array of gluten-free and vegan doughnuts had me dreaming of them from across the pond. I definitely made sourcing out these all all too rare to find sweets a priority of my visit, and easily sourced them through the massive food hall at the historic Selfridges on Oxford Street.
Not only are Borough 22's doughnuts gluten and dairy-free, but they also cater to those with multiple allergies, as they also omit egg (being vegan), soy, and nuts (though they are made in a shared space). With an exciting selection to choose from and the eager anticipation of having my first doughnut for as long as I can remember, I was glad to have purchased a trio for breakfast in bed in my hotel over my last couple days in the city.
At Selfridges in London, Borough 22's doughnuts are sold from the bakery case, and I was pleased to see them on their own shelf (shared coincidentally with The Meringue Girls). The labeling is a bit confusing, as some mentioned suitability for celiacs and some did not. Also, the allergen and "may contain" language on the labels was inconsistent. I recommend checking out Borough 22's own allergen information and contacting them with any questions.
The half dozen options on display are priced from £2.49 to £2.99 and include iced and non-iced doughnuts. Although I was tempted to buy one of every variety on offer, I narrowed my selections to three of the most tempting flavors.
I'll start with my favorite doughnut: the hazelnut chocolate. The real standout of this treat is the decadent, fudgy chocolate icing which was dotted with playful sprinkles. The intensity of the chocolate contrasted nicely with the sweet vanilla cake of the doughnut, and it seemed to be the freshest of the trio (as far as I could tell from the icing and crumb of the cake).
Biting into it made me feel like a kid again, and I couldn't stop from smiling with the pure pleasure of the doughnut paired with added nostalgia.
My second-favorite of the doughnuts I purchased was the cinnamon sugar doughnut, which featured a similar base (though more moist than the iced versions), generously coated in a delicious cinnamon-sugar mix. Whereas the chocolate hazelnut score points with its decadence factor, this doughnut won me over for a "pinch me this can't be real" feeling in eating a treat that looked and tasted so, well, normal.
As the sweetest of the three, it made for a perfect afternoon snack and pick-me-up and impresses with it's old fashioned, but always appreciated, tried and true flavor combination.
Ranking at the bottom of the trio was at the hibiscus iced doughnut, which I though was going to take top marks at the outset because I adore all things hibiscus. While the flavor was certainly spot-on, it was the texture of both the icing and cake that was less than stellar, with a crumbly, dry cake base and dryer icing.
That being said, I suspect it might not have been as fresh as the others, or might not have faired well in the stuffy, hot bus ride back to my hotel and staying in the takeaway box for a day.
Although I found them varying in their taste and texture, I wouldn't turn any of the doughnuts down, and they all earned top marks in ability to bring a smile to my face. Doughnuts are just one of those treats that are difficult to find gluten-free and vegan, and Borough 22's impress me for their allergen awareness and mission to bring the world more of these old fashioned (but never out of style) treats.
I, for one, never thought I'd be able to eat a doughnut like this when first going gluten-free many years ago, so I ate the doughnuts with a sense of wonder, and love that they have flavors that appeal to all ages (and many dietary restrictions). These doughnuts will definitely be a staple purchase on future London visits, and I love that they are conveniently stocked at Selfridges and other retailers across the city.
Disclaimer: This review is current to the original publication date. Updates will be noted. Ingredients and manufacturing processes can change without notice. Each product should be reviewed for individual nutritional needs. Feel free to to contact me with any questions or comments.