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Food & Wine Toronto doughnut explosion: a guide to the city’s holed-and-fried treats

A box of Paulette’s doughnuts.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

In 2012, the city woke up and decided it was obsessed with doughnuts. Instantaneously, new shops sprung forth with ring-shaped Frankentreats inspired by bread-and-butter and craft beer, bringing to shame the maple-iced sugar pucks of yore.

History buffs have traced the doughnut back to at least the middle of the 19th century, but today's incarnations are volumes more imaginative than their sugary forebears, with sweet-and-savoury combo flavours and even Elvis-inspired iterations to tease the senses.

Twenty-twelve was a solid year for the holed-and-fried confections. And 2013 is looking even better for double chins.

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The Culprit: Paulette's Original Donuts and Chicken

Backstory: Siblings Devin and Luke Connell, progeny of Ace Bakery founder Linda Haynes, started up the shop over the summer. They also sell fried chicken.

Most Popular flavour: "The blueberry balsamic definitely gets a lot of buzz," says Kayda Tynes, a staffer at the Leslieville doughnut den. A seasonal mojito-flavoured doughnut was a hit during its summer run, too.

Most unique flavour: Blueberry balsamic likely takes the cake (vinegar!), though other curiosity-piquing mashups like grapefruit maple and dark chocolate pretzel are worthy contenders.

Distinguishing features: A Donut Robot pops out Paulette's signature gems, which are made with a cake dough rather than the more traditional yeast recipe.

The Culprit: Planet Donut

Backstory: When founder Dan (who goes by his first name only, a la Cher) was a child, a woman would bring homemade doughnut with unusual toppings into the grocery stores his parents owned.

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"Thirty years later, it's always been in my head," says Dan. "So I thought we'd get into it. And it's been going crazy."

Most Popular flavour: The Oreo Explosion – a doughnut topped with vanilla fudge and Oreo pieces, then finished with icing – earns that distinction.

Most unique flavour: Not a flavour, per se, but one of Dan's doughnuts comes with an entire wrapped Kinder Surprise egg nestled in its hole.

Distinguishing features: Dan uses a basic yeast recipe that's chewy and not overly sweet for the doughnuts themselves.

The Culprit: Glory Hole Doughnuts

Backstory: Pastry chef Ashley Jacot de Boinod opened up the Parkdale shop in August. Her reason for launching the biz? "I absolutely love doughnuts."

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Most Popular flavours: "The Elvis with marshmallow and lemon meringue," says Jacot de Boinod without hesitation.

Most unique flavour: The beloved Elvis with marshmallow, smeared in peanut butter-frosting and topped with bacon, marshmallows and banana chips, arguably wins this contentious category.

Distinguishing features: Jacot de Boinod makes her doughnuts by hand.

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