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Cider doughnut taste test: A tough job but somebody had to do it

Wednesday, October 9, 2013
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Judges sample apple cider doughnuts from local orchards at The Daily Gazette offices on Maxon Road Extension in Schenectady. Clockwise from bottom left are Robin Granger, Justin Mason, Mindy Young, Alyson Kretser and Judy Patrick.
Judges sample apple cider doughnuts from local orchards at The Daily Gazette offices on Maxon Road Extension in Schenectady. Clockwise from bottom left are Robin Granger, Justin Mason, Mindy Young, Alyson Kretser and Judy Patrick.

A bit about our judging panel:

“I feel like I’m going to die,” said Mindy Young about two-thirds of the way through the taste-test last week.

The Gazette copy editor and occasional food reviewer was the most talkative judge on the panel, offering up sophisticated commentary like “this smells nutmeg-y” and “we’re going to have to do laps around the newsroom to burn this off.”

She tended to speak aloud what the other four judges were all thinking. About halfway through the contest, their demeanors had shifted. Gone was the palpable excitement of getting to eat doughnuts in the middle of the day and in its place was an uncomfortable determination.

The winner is ...

Charlton bake shop wins top honors. Click here.

Editor Judy Patrick had begun to turn green. “How many more?” she said about 20 minutes in, shifting awkwardly in her chair.

The other judges were silent. Reporter Justin Mason, a cook in his previous life, sat quietly during the tasting, staring down his score sheets with a look he usually reserves for sources who call him at quarter to 5 with a news tip.

Chamber of Schenectady County Senior Vice President Robin Granger was quiet in her judging, as well. Her scorecards revealed a more animated inner monologue: “Holy nutmeg!” or “thick sugar coating — the way I like it!”

Our panel expert — Alyson Kretser, senior category manager with Price Chopper’s Bakery Department — appeared the least affected by bite after bite of dough and sugar.

The perfect cider doughnut, she says, will have a golden brown color that is slightly darker on the top than the bottom. It will have what she calls a 5-point star on the top, not a hole. It will have low fat absorption when you break it in half (it won’t be greasy). And it will have a smooth inside of light brown or cream color.

“Nice color,” she wrote of Smith’s doughnuts. “Overall color the same. Soft. No 5-point star on top, but nice texture. Sweet but not too sweet.”

 
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