This piece was originally written for The Muhlenberg Weekly. Sorry for the gap in posting! I took winter break off to spend time with family, and more recently I’ve been working hard at The Weekly and even writing stories outside food. Here’s to getting back on schedule!
The first thing that anyone needs to understand to properly appreciate a doughnut is the difference between yeast and cake doughnuts. A yeast doughnut is light and airy, like a french cruller or most things you might get at Dunkin Donuts or Krispy Kreme. A cake doughnut is fluffier and comparatively dense, made using cake batter, as with an apple cider or an old fashioned doughnut. Cake doughnuts are best when hot, yeast doughnuts can be eaten whenever. Personally, I am of the school of thought that a crappy yeast doughnut is always better than a crappy cake doughnut, but a good cake doughnut can be absolutely transcendent. Duck Donuts’ cake doughnuts surpass all that I’ve had to date.
Duck Donuts is a craft doughnut chain originating in Duck, North Carolina, with over 200 locations nationally. The location at Tilghman Square in Allentown has walls of windows facing the south and west, so in the afternoons, the whole shop is lit up in the golden tones of the setting sun. The interior is decorated in bright pink and blue, with bold yellow chairs and stools. Warm wafts of sweet air drift into the shop from the kitchen and fill the space. Each doughnut is made fresh to order, so they come out piping hot and freshly dipped in the toppings of your choice.
The vanilla cake donut base that makes up most of each donut is truly divine, sweet and crusty and fluffy and buttery in all the right ways. The maple bacon donut, their best seller, balances this sweetness miraculously with the nutty sugar of the maple icing and the salty, fatty goodness of a generous sprinkling of bacon bits. The strong flavors push and pull to create something wonderful. Similarly, the blueberry icing packs a fruity punch that complements the vanilla base simply and perfectly. The peanut butter paradise donut, a peanut butter and chocolate iced delight that utilizes the classic combination sublimely with one of my friends commenting that it tasted just like a peanut butter Girl Scout cookie. (I will assume she meant Tagalongs, also known as Peanut Butter Patties.) The strongest flavors of toppings were my favorites, because they worked to cut the straight sweetness of the vanilla cake base.
Conversely, the base overwhelmed some of the weaker flavors, and those doughnuts ended up seemingly mostly gimmicky. The coconut doughnut, for example, only had the slightest hint of coconutty flavor, despite a heavy coating. I had a similar issue with a cookies-and-cream-type doughnut with Oreo crumbles and a cinnamon sugar coated beauty. The topping just didn’t contribute enough flavor to really seem worth ordering it at all. Similarly, some of the minor deviations between flavors didn’t make any difference, with the s’mores doughnut tasting exactly like the chocolate frosted — the graham cracker topping and marshmallow drizzle were entirely overpowered by the (delicious) chocolate frosting.
The cost was reasonable, and Duck Donuts is just a quick LANTA bus ride away from Muhlenberg’s campus. Duck Donuts also delivers on Grubhub. I would absolutely recommend eating here, but get the doughnuts when you know you can eat them right away; otherwise, the smell may drive you insane. I would also stick to either simplistic flavors or something really out there, like my personal favorite of maple bacon, but this is definitely an eat worth your time.
Duck Donuts is located in Tilghman Square Shopping Center at 4608 Broadway, Allentown, Pa. 18104, and they are open from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays to Saturdays, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, at $15.25 for one dozen donuts.