Every good road trip starts with a little juice, and in this case it was a quick top-up of the battery of our 2018 long-term Nissan Leaf.
The route programmed, we headed out to eight of our favorite cider doughnut establishments!
Cider Belly Doughnuts was the first stop, a (relatively) hip establishment in downtown Albany.
While Cider Belly makes the traditional plain and sugar varieties, it also has a constantly rotating selection of more exotic options, including mocha latte and butter rum. Given all those other flavors you might think the plain, traditional doughnut might be underwhelming, but you'd be wrong.
Cider Belly's donuts are unusually plump but incredibly good. Crispy on the outside yet fresh and moist on the inside.
Next stop was Indian Ladder, a traditional Albany staple for apple picking. The place was packed, with critters in the farm's little petting zoo getting plenty of attention. We made a bee-line for the bakery.
While it was hard to ignore the pies and other delights, the cider doughnuts proved a little forgettable. Good and chewy but lacking flavor.
Yonder Farms was actually my first cider doughnut ages ago, and so I have fond memories of the place.
The doughnuts here are quality, fluffy and light, with a strong nutmeg flavor.
Lakeside was our northernmost stop, situated right beside Ballston Lake. This usually sleepy farmstand makes some of the greatest apple fritters known to man, but we were there to sample the cider doughnuts -- and so were about three million other people who were there for an antiques festival. We did manage to get some doughnuts and their crispy outside and overall texture didn't disappoint. But their flavor proved a bit blander than the competition.
Another traditional apple orchard packed with tourists and a few brave souls with increasingly full stomachs on the hunt for cider doughnuts.
Riverview is a former favorite because I used to live right up the road. The fresh doughnuts were just as good as I remembered them, crispy and buttery but a bit on the small side.
Right down the road from Riverview is Bowman, where the crowds were even more intense. I didn't think we'd even be able to get into the parking lot, but we did, scoring a pair of doughnuts that were dense and heavier than the rest but had good flavor.
Samascott sadly wins the award for the coldest and least-fresh doughnut of the day. They were forgettable overall, though at just 50 cents each they were at least the cheapest.
Our final stop and another personal favorite with a wide offering of pies and turnovers that are hard to resist. We were just there for the doughnuts, and they proved fresh and delicious, with perhaps the best shape of the day. A crispy ring on one side gives Golden Harvest's doughnuts extra points if you're looking for something that feels a little more homemade.