Doughnuts are the new cupcakes. I can think of three businesses that popped up over the last few months, all of them focused on restoring the magic of doughnuts to Montreal. Open to the public as of two weeks ago, the newest of the three is Léché in the St-Henri neighborhood. Owned and led by pastry chef Josie Weitzenbauer, Montreal’s first artisanal doughnut boutique boasts comfort-meets-gourmet goods that could shake up everything you know about doughnuts…
Committed to all-natural and local ingredients, Josie’s doughnuts are made on site, twice a day in her open kitchen. Using the same yeast base for all doughnuts, they’re fried to a barely golden hue that’s not the least bit crunchy. The dough is light and fluffy with good spring back reflexes. And the fact that it’s hardly sweet is all the more reason for the main flavors to shine. Most of the doughnuts are filled – very generously, I might add – and even when they’re not, every single one is valued at $1.65. Not too big and not too small, they’re shaped into the perfect size, but only if you can stop at one, max two – which I highly doubt.
Hello, peanut butter and jelly doughnut. Don’t rest until you get with it. Polished with crunchy peanuts, the middle revealed an ample dose of peanut butter and its better half, jam – homemade raspberry jam. They slowly oozed out, happy to see me and I them – the smooth, faintly salted creaminess of one balanced by the sweet, fruity profile of the other. The best part? Everything. Every damn thing.
See this pistachio doughnut right here? I basically inhaled it. I wasn’t tricked by almond paste dyed green at the core of this delicious wonder. It was liberally piped with loose cream filling infused with delicate pistachio flavor and rich, buttery undertones. This favorite of mine wasn’t too sweet, even at the surface with all that crushed pistachio goodness. My life is complete.
Chocolate never fails, right? Wrong. It totally did in this chocolate mousse doughnut, dusted with cocoa powder. The airy filling was bitter (but not dark chocolate bitter) and sour…like it was past its best before date. Pretty sure it’s not supposed to taste that way. Very surprised that it did considering the doughnuts are baked fresh every day. Intentional or not, it’s not welcome again in my box. Sorry.
Meet the white chocolate mousse doughnut, aka my love. Finished with large slivers of white chocolate, you’ll find a blob of sweet white chocolate mousse at the center. It’s creamier than it is light, and that’s nothing I’m going to complain about. Get it. It’s freaking delicious.
In the spirit of the fall season, I couldn’t resist the apple crumble doughnut. Tucked inside was a dollop of tender apple bits coated in a sweeter than tart reduction – its essence completed with the sugary and buttery notes of the very fine crumble topping. It’s definitely lighter than the other cream-filled doughnuts, but rest assured that taste isn’t compromised. I can just imagine the awesomeness of popping one in the oven, then crowning it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream right before digging in.
I totally get the appeal of their chubby, cream-filled doughnuts, but don’t underestimate the gut-less ones. Meet coconut-lime, a simple and scrumptious number I could eat on the regular. On the surface, you’ll find coconut flakes and lime zest stuck to a thin blanket of icing sugar – and that’s really where those flavors start and end. But, that’s not a bad thing because you get to zero in on the light, springy and not too sweet base common to all of Josie’s doughnuts.
While you could take a pink box to go, sticking around is even better. Reminiscent of a large home kitchen, the workspace is in full view, so you get to see Josie and her young team up to their elbows in dough. Being a new space and all, the decorative touches are still in effect. It’s slowly starting to fill up with things that she loves – fusing objects that remind her of her country girl roots with quirky pieces from local artists. Warm and welcoming, grab a stool on one side or a table on the other and shove those doughnuts in your face.
Six doughnuts later and armed with a burning desire to go back for repeats and more discoveries, I can tell that Josie is onto something really special. Her doughnuts are awesome, and some like the PB & J, pistachio and white chocolate mousse flavors are next-level. New flavors are sure to hit shelves down the road – date square and lemon meringue included – and I can’t wait for all that’s to come. So new and full of promise, I raise my last doughnut to Léché’s destined success as Montreal’s first artisanal doughnut boutique – and I’ll eat to that!
N.B. Closed Weekends
640 rue de Courcelle | map