By Brittany Fox
Disclaimer: Items in this post were gifted. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of the company.
Happy spring, everyone! This time of year always brings me joy – there is sunlight and warmth; I can throw open the windows and give everything a much needed dusting; I can shrug off the malaise and melancholy of winter. Each day has a freshness that I love. Even though one day I’ll need a parka and the next nothing more than a jean jacket, I am so grateful we have transitional seasons in New England.
In honor of spring’s proclivity to make me anticipate the start of each new day, I’d like to give you all the small gift of something new to try. As the proverb goes, out with the old and in with the new!
For most of us gluten free vegans, finding the elusive yummy baked goods is a continuous journey. Bakery’s may offer gluten free options or vegan options but rarely both – or more annoyingly they have both, just not any items that check both boxes. Recently, I’ve noticed a slow shift towards more inclusive goodies but while we wait for widespread availability, I’ve found the unicorn of pastry shops – a place dedicated to serving allergen friendly donuts. (I should note that I am donut obsessed – always have been, always will be). I’ve only found a few places over the last two years, all in Massachusetts, but in February I stumbled across a new venture in Tiverton, Rhode Island.
A Bit of Background
The Donut Shack is a one-woman venture that offers 100% vegan and top eight allergen free donuts! This means they are: Gluten free, soy free, peanut free, tree nut free, egg free, dairy free, corn free, and gelatin free. What a list! I sat down with the owner to learn more about her whirlwind of a journey.
A year ago, while we all shut down, Nicole Marie Viveiros opened up her donut business. Trained in the culinary arts at Diamond Regional Voc-Tech in Rhode Island and then entrepreneurship in college, Viveiros actually went into the construction business for a number of years before starting her donut venture. After being laid off due to the pandemic, and going vegan in May 2020, Viveiros realized that the Tiverton area was a desert for vegan desserts. She decided to start this journey with the goal to give more people desserts that they can eat. Simultaneously, she was encouraged by a small group of entrepreneurs (also vegan), who offered her a community of support.
Ever Saturday The Donut Shack opens up its pop-up shop (a literal shack) and distributes its weekly orders. It’s currently still a limited venture but Nicole also offers a monthly subscription box where you can make the newest flavors at home. Each donut mix bag makes about 6 donuts and the boxes ship out the 1st week of each month. It’s perfect for those of you who don’t live in the area!
Up until now, Viveiros has focused on donuts – something she was craving one day last summer- but hopes to expand into other items, particularly carrot cake, one of her favorite treats that is a holiday staple in her household. In April, her carrot cake went live on her website but keep an eye out for her Instagram to know what other recipes she’s been testing and when they become available. Her long-term goal is to open a cafe bookshop – an idea inspired by a shop on Martha’s Vineyard – where she can sell her vegan goodies and vegan ice cream.
As she grows her business, Viveiros also gives back! Inspired by her entrepreneurial community of vegans, The Donut Shack donates a percentile of each purchase to a new organization each month. March was A Wildlife Tarot, April was Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (in honor of Earth Month), and on April 10 she participated in NE VegFest’s screening of Gunda. For the month of May, $1 of each donut purchased will be donated to Save the Buns, Inc. in order to help their mission of spreading awareness about animal testing. Viveiros is really pleased that she can add this intersectional activism to her business. She is extremely passionate about supporting sanctuaries and helping reduce the suffering of animals. Plus, it’s great to know that treating yourself is also helping others!
And now, here’s the part you actually want to know – how are the donuts? Well, each month you can try new flavors! When I got my order, I received Mint Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Lemon Lavender, Birthday Cake, and the OG, Cinnamon Sugar. Your order will likely be different but you can also get the donut subscription box I mentioned before as well as donut-inspired merch: donut face masks, mugs, stickers, and t-shirts. If you’re on the CBD bandwagon, you can try their CBG donuts made with SUNMED Raw Hemp Flower. Each donut contains approximately 30mg of CBG and has a neutral earthy sage flavor. They are $5 each.
Each regular donut is $3.50 (except Cinnamon Sugar – $3.00) and they are definitely worth the price, especially if you are a gluten free vegan. They’re extremely moist and fluffy. Unlike others gf/v donuts, they aren’t gummy – it’s my main criticism of tapioca-based gf/v donuts. Instead, they balance on the line between the gummy and the oily gf/v donut spectrum. You can actually see the air pockets and when you press on the dough, it bounces back! Plus, the portion sizes are great, especially for the price.
Here’s my ranking from best to least favorite: Mint Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Sugar, Blueberry Lemon Lavender, Birthday Cake.
- Mint Chocolate Chip – I love chocolate, especially in donut form. The batter is rich, not too sweet, and the mint adds a fun tang. Bonus – if you like a denser donut, this one’s for you.
- Cinnamon Sugar – I can see why this one is a staple! Nicole has perfected this recipe. The consistency was perfect and you’d never know it was gf/v.
- Blueberry Lemon Lavender – This was a fun one to try! It tasted like spring and I was pleasantly surprised by the whole blueberries in the batter. The flavor may not be for everyone but I say give it a go! Lemon and blueberry is a classic combo but the lavender adds complexity.
- Birthday Cake – To be honest, I didn’t really like this one. It was way too sweet and sugary for me. I don’t like icing or frosting (I’m the type to scrape frosting off my cupcakes and cakes), so it’s not surprising since the icing was the star of the show for this one.
Finally, I should mention that if you don’t have the extra dietary restrictions, these donuts may not be for you. They’re not your traditional leavened or cake fried donuts. They’re baked. Gluten free vegan donuts are one of the toughest nuts to crack. They can’t be your average yeast-based raised fried donuts that are super light and airy and they are different from other cake donuts in that the lack of gluten network alters their molecular composition so that they don’t get that typical crumbliness. Nevertheless, if you require top 8 allergen-friendly donuts, these need to be at the top of your list!
If you want to try The Donut Shack donuts, order them on their website for a Saturday pick-up, or you can go to their first vendor event on May 8th. They’ll be at the Mother’s Day Pop-up Market event at Tiverton Farmers Market, located at the Sandywoods Venue. To find out their monthly flavors and their monthly sponsored organization, follow The Donut Shack @the.donut.shack on Instagram and Facebook.
Meet the author:
Brittany Fox (she/her) is an environmental historian and archivist working for the Cambridge Historical Commission and Northeastern University. Currently in Boston’s Fenway area, she is originally from Hopedale, MA and has close ties with Newport and Rhode Island. Brittany went vegetarian in 2015 for environmental reasons then fully vegan and gluten free in 2018. She is passionate about baking, reading, film, skincare, and the pursuit of sustainability.
You can follow Brittany on Instagram @catswithspoons