Hole Doughnuts in Asheville, North Carolina

Hole Doughnuts in West Asheville, North Carolina

Hole Doughnuts is unlike any doughnut place you’ve been to before. I owned the shop for the first 2 years of it’s life. It is unlike any doughnut shop I’ve been to or read about. Unfortunately, most of the raised (or yeasted) doughnuts I’ve consumed in my life were only enjoyable if eaten hot. Once they cooled to room temperature, the life in them was gone. They were overly sweet, they lacked the depth of flavor that only the proper amount of salt can provide, they left a film on the roof of your mouth that comes from hydrogenated fryer oil. I craved something different. Naturally leavened bread has, so wonderfully, become fairly common. In more and more towns, a bakery that ferments their dough and hearth bakes their bread is easier to find.

I have been so fortunate to work for experienced and problem-solving bakers.

Bakers, by trade, tend to be open and willing to share their knowledge. We have to learn to think in the moment because yeast, cultures, sourdough starters, preferments – they all require patience and can change with the slightest dip in temperature or rise of humidity. But the payoff with slo-oo-owing and cooling down the process is layered flavor, an open crumb, a thin crispy exterior, and long keeping quality. This means that even once your doughnut cools down, it’s still delicious!  

Thoughts on doughnuts.

I wanted to apply all of these characteristics to doughnuts.  I wanted to combine the textures and flavor profiles of brioche, ciabatta, croissants, and french baguettes to doughnuts. I wanted the glaze or the sugar on top to accentuate the dough, to bring another dimension of flavor.  And I wanted it all to be enjoyed piping hot from the fryer.

The business and the building are new creations, a young two years old.

I wanted the space to feel like an extension of my home, so I spent as much time and energy creating the building itself as I did the doughnuts.  The textures inside are mostly from worn woods and metal, the natural light is abundant, the ceilings are high and open, the space is intimate and cozy. I searched for the heart pine beadboard on the walls, the antique schoolhouse lights hanging from the ceiling, the leather topped diner barstools, antique tables and chairs, the front counter from an old general store. My parents sourced bar legs from New Orleans, deer horns from my cousin, architectural goodies from the deep south all of which have been found and given another life at Hole. Everything here, other than washing dishes is available for the customer to see. One half of the space is open kitchen, the other half is for customers to sit and relax for a spell. We roll and stretch doughnuts all morning long at the shaping table. Then the doughnuts rest for a second rise in glass-doored proofing cabinets facing the bar. Customers can watch their doughnuts expand into an irregularly shaped and craggy ring of bubbles as we fry and glaze them to order. We deliver them to almost too hot to eat immediately.

The selection of flavors is a simple list, though the choice is not always easy.  

Three mainstay flavors and a fourth rotating flavor that changes weekly. Simple vanilla, toasted almond/ sesame with cinnamon, cocoa rub combined with coffee and cinnamon. And each week we offer you a special flavor to keep things new and our creativity moving. Examples are mimosa, bourbon rosemary, Indian spice, smoky buttermilk…

Creativity and change.

In October of 2016, I sold Hole Doughnuts to a hard-working couple named Hallee and Ryan. They are an ambitious duo that first impressed me as loyal customers. About 6 months ago, Hallee started working at Hole after waiting very patiently for an opening in our schedule to become a doughnut maven. I had been thinking of selling the business so that I could follow my own new course of love in life, when one particular day I saw them sitting out in the little blue doughnut truck wiping out a half dozen doughnuts just the two of them! I strode outside and I’m sure I was fairly ungraceful presenting my idea to them because I was excited and nervous…but one conversation led to another and another…which has become the most graceful and trusting negotiation and transfer of business I have experienced. I am in awe of their dedication, grit, and sense of humor.

Hole could not be in better hands. So, congratulations Hole! On with life and spreading delicious joy to all that walk through your avocado green doors! Much love!

Hole Doughnuts: Moving Forward

Hole has consistently been praised by local and national media outlets. To learn more about it, please visit their website at www.hole-doughnuts.com.

Published by Erin McGrady

Erin McGrady is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer exploring Asheville and beyond. My work focuses on sharing about LGBTQ safe spaces, camper van life, and the outdoors.

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