“Nothing has a hold on the consumer like a doughnut.” That’s according to Anthony Fletcher, who is trying to shake up the market with his healthier brand Urban Legend.

And, judging by the success of other brands in the space including Planet Doughnut, Doughnut Time and even behemoth Krispy Kreme, Fletcher is right.

“This growing trend in the UK is being fuelled by the range of doughnut eating opportunities,” said Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager UK and Ireland at Dawn Foods.

“In Europe, doughnuts are softer, with a delicate structure and are viewed as a ‘cake’ item consumed during a coffee break or at teatime in the afternoon. In contrast, in the US, doughnuts are considered a morning item or snack with a more ‘bread-like’ structure.”

As National Doughnut Week – a celebration of the sweet treats which sees bakers raise money for charity The Children’s Trust – gets underway, we look at some of the trends enticing consumers:


Fun doughnuts with smiley faces and cereal on top

Source: Dawn Foods

Fun, fun, fun

Fun and indulgence are at the heart of many doughnut propositions as creators let their imagination run wild.

“The doughnut category is seen as quite fun and light-hearted – and not one to be taken too seriously – which allows manufacturers to be playful with flavourings and toppings,” says Baker & Baker European CEO John Lindsay.

Popular flavour combinations this year, according to CSM Ingredients, include strawberry & pistachio, brownie & raspberry, and lime & cream cheese. Dawn Foods highlights desserts as popular flavour inspiration including lemon meringue, chocolate orange and apple crumble. Sharp citrus is also in, although classics such as jam, custard, caramel, and chocolate don’t go out of style.

“As far as toppings are concerned, flavoured and coloured icings add ‘pick me up appeal’ with the addition of sugar springles, freeze dried fruits and nuts for added texture,” says Dawn’s Passmore, also highlighting the use of honeycomb, brownies, and confectionery as toppings. “It’s all about personalisation and individual treating – this is a completely different ball game to the six in a bag sugared doughnut for less than £1.”

This is London-based Doughnut Time’s raison d’être as it serves customers up pun-based indulgent treats such as the Gordon Jamsey which is filled with jam, dipped in strawberry glaze, rolled in a Jammie Dodger and Pink Wafer biscuit crumb, swirled with buttercream, more jam and topped with a Jammie Dodger.


Doughnuts in a glass cabinet

Source: Crosstown

Crosstown’s doughnuts feature a yeast-raised sourdough base

All about that base

Toppings and fillings often steal the limelight, but many believe there are opportunities for the dough underneath to shine as well.

“While toppings and fillings have taken centre stage, we are seeing innovation in dough too,” believes Dawn’s Passmore.

For Dawn, this means innovation in the form of a new Sourdough Donut Mix which delivers a “completely different doughnut texture”. It’s described as a mash up of “everything consumers love about sourdough bread and yeast-raised doughnuts” resulting in a finished product with a “buttery but slightly acidic, sourdough flavour that’s much less sweet than a standard American-style donut”.

Sourdough doughnuts can already be found in the marketplace with London-based Crosstown, which has 16 sites, specialising in them. The firm is renowned for its yeast-raised signature hybrid sourdough base which is often smothered in sophisticated flavours such as Sri Lankan Cinnamon Sugar, Tongan Vanilla Bean Glaze and Dark Chocolate Truffle.

There’s room for more though, according to Baker & Baker’s Lindsay: “Sourdough has considerable potential within the doughnut category and is an ingredient we are actively exploring.”

For those seeking another way to pimp their dough, bakery supplier BFP managing director Steve Lyons suggests adding a pop of colour. “For scratch bakers, adding vibrant colours to dough offers a great way to stand out from the crowd,” he says, “with contrasting inclusions, fillings and toppings for a truly rainbow design that makes window displays pop.”


Urban Legend doughnuts in a pink box`

Source: Urban Legend

A doughnut a day?

While it’s unlikely it’ll ever be recommended to eat doughnuts daily, there is a growing number of businesses looking to make them more permissible.

Simpsons Doughnuts Baker & Baker

Source: Baker & Baker

Although a relative newcomer to the market, Urban Legend is making waves in the healthier doughnut space. The business ventured onto the scene last summer offering “responsible indulgence” thanks to the innovative use of technology which sets the dough by a beam of steam rather than frying them. A micro layer of fat is then deposited on the outside to retain the taste and texture that consumers are accustomed to. Its doughnuts boast 57% less sugar, 52% saturated fat and 44% less fat than doughnuts currently being sold with less than 160 calories per treat.

Baker & Baker is also updating its range, particularly as “impending HFSS regulations will necessitate changes in how doughnuts are positioned and marketed in-store”, according to Lindsay, and “presence and standout within a retailer’s fixture is a paramount concern”.

“Baker & Baker has invested in reformulation across its doughnut portfolio,” he adds. “In addition to our sun-fry technology, we’ve reduced the amount of sugar, salt and calories considerably to provide a healthier product whilst maintaining the essence of a doughnut.”

For proof, turn to its revamped Simpsons doughnut range. Produced under licence from Disney, the doughnuts come in at just under 150 calories each and boast significantly less sugar, fat and calories than the ‘average doughnut’, according to the firm.


A giant pink doughnut with Party Rings biscuits on top

Source: Project D

Project D’s Mega doughnut

Sharing is caring

“The big trends for 2022 include ‘mega doughnuts’ for sharing and celebrations,” declares Cristiana Ballarini, marketing director pastry mixes at CSM Ingredients, “and the main influence behind this is the forthcoming Jubilee and the rise in popularity of birthday doughnuts.”

She points to recent research which found that one in five European consumers buy doughnuts to share, adding that the rise in popularity of larger doughnuts will continue as the year progresses.

Indie doughnut brand Project D is one of the firms serving up giant creations. Called ‘Mega’ doughnuts, they cost £20 and come in a variety of flavours including Lotus Biscoff, ‘Oh Homie’ which has vanilla frosting, pink-coloured white chocolate and sprinkles on top, and choc fudge brownie.

“A growing number of consumers, especially in the post-covid era, are choosing doughnuts in place of celebration cakes and using ring doughnut walls for guests to select from,” adds BFP’s Lyons. “This is a trend which has particularly come to the fore at weddings but works equally well for baby showers and birthday parties, and the doughnuts can obviously be customised to suit the theme.”

Small doughnuts with sprinkles on and jam in

Source: Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons’ Timbits

Size isn’t everything when it comes to doughnuts as CSM’s Ballarini also notes a rise in ‘dinky doughnuts’, doughnut dots and bites which tap into the snacking and sharing trends which could prove lucrative for the nation’s bakers. “They enable bakers to expand the eating occasions with promotions in store and through social media outlets,” she adds.

Tim Hortons’ Timbits – bite-sized versions of its traditional doughnuts – are just one example in the market. With flavours including Apple Fritter, Old Fashioned Glazed and Blueberry, they’re sold in various snack pack sizes which the firm says is ‘perfect for parties, meetings or any time’.


Colourful doughnuts with fruity toppings on a grey background

Source: Dawn Foods

Recipe: Fruity Vegan Donuts


Donut Dough:

  • 1000g – Dawn Balance Vegan Donut Mix
  • 50g – Yeast
  • 470g – Water


  • Dawn Glossy Icing (White/Caramel Flavoured/Chocolate)
  • Dawn Raspberry Compound
  • Dawn Fruit Compounds
  • Dawn DipQuik White
  • Seeds, Nuts, Muesli, Dried Fruits


Donut Dough Preparation:

  • Mix all the ingredients in a spiral mixer for 2 minutes on slow and 7-10 minutes on medium speed
  • Cover the dough and let it rest for 5 minutes
  • Sheet the dough to 7-8 mm thickness then let it rest for 5 minutes prior to cutting into ring shapes
  • Proof the cut ring donuts at 38°C, 55-60% humidity for 35-40 minutes, then fry at 180°C for 50-60 seconds per side


  • Warm up the Dawn Glossy Icings to 40°C
  • Mix the white with Dawn Raspberry Compound or colour with food colourings
  • Dip the donuts in various icings then swirl or drizzle with contrasting colours to create indulgent vegan treats
  • Top with seeds, nuts, dried fruits and even muesli to give them added texture

Top tips from Dawn Foods’ Chefs:

  • For quicker donut icing you can use Dawn DipQuik White at room temperature
  • It can be flavoured and coloured with Dawn Compounds.