If you’re lucky, you might find two, maybe three kinds of fritters in a bakery’s doughnut case.
Apple is the obvious offering, but occasionally when touring doughnut bakeries around Tacoma I’m happy to find blueberry and even banana.
And then there’s Helen’s Donuts and Ice Cream in Tacoma, where the fritter selection is the best in the city at least one day a week.
Every Sunday, the bakery features six styles of the fried doughnut coated in a sugary glaze. Get there early for the best selection.
On a recent visit, there was a typical apple-and-cinnamon fritter, and blueberry, which you’ll recognize because it’s always a slightly darker color, stained from the colorful fruit. Peach and mango looked alike, except the peach fritters came topped with a single cube of sugar-glazed peach while the mango had two small diced mango pieces on top. Both were threaded with the fruit, but with more of a puree than the diced fruit you’ll find in the apple fritter. The pineapple version came with a center filled with a tangle of shredded fruit. The banana was restrained. I’ve taken home banana-flavored doughnuts and muffins that permeated the rest of the pastries with their obnoxious flavor, but these were on the lighter side of banana.
I appreciate at Helen’s that the fritters are always moist with either diced fruit or puree incorporated throughout. They’re thickly glazed with a sweet shellac coating that I am guessing extends their shelf life. (On day three, I was still enjoying the fritters, which held up impressively.) The crunchy-crispy exteriors always broke to a soft, gooey inside. If you’re lucky, you’ll score a warm one straight from the kitchen. Fritters are $1.49 each, $7.59 for a half dozen or $13.59 a dozen. On any given weekday, there’s always apple, blueberry or banana fritters.
The fritters here are the biggest doughnuts in the case at Helen’s, which has a terrific selection of French crullers (usually four kinds), buttermilk bars, cake doughnuts, twists, bear claws, old fashioneds, maple and chocolate bars, cinnamon rolls, raised-and-glazed, and filled doughnuts.
The bakery is owned by Steve Pothan and wife Helen, after whom the bakery is named. It’s typical to see their kids in the bakery. Along with ice cream by the scoop or cone, the bakery also has a full espresso menu and seating.
Pothan said he started increasing his fritter selection four years ago when he noticed an uptick in Sunday visitors after church services. They make about 200 fritters every Sunday in the six flavors, he said.
Helen’s Donuts and Ice Cream
Where: 5601 E. Portland Ave., Tacoma; 253-472-6491; bit.ly/2kNL7jg.