With next level doughnuts in the flavours of your wildest dreams, Levain Doughnuts has a cult following for good reason. If you haven’t tried one yet, we reckon you soon will.
Location: 100 Nepean Highway, Mentone, VIC 3194 Ph: (03) 9583 4250 & 802 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, VIC 3122 Ph: (03) 9416 3048
Melbourne has quite a few bakeries specialising in doughnuts – and donuts – at present, so if you want to join the fray, you’d better be bringing your A- Game.
Thankfully, Levain Doughnuts is doing all of that and more.
The business first began to germinate back in 2016 when 2 mates – and both Anthony’s – started experimenting with doughnuts at Big Mama’s Kitchen. From there, they launched Jamm’d Dessert Bar, focusing on the events market. Then, certain that Melburnians still weren’t getting the doughnuts they deserved, they side-stepped into Levain Doughnuts.
So what makes them a stand-out?
Well, using locally-sourced ingredients of the highest quality, Levain Doughnuts make artisan hand-crafted doughnuts from scratch.
To be honest, Eatablity was a tad sceptical. Admittedly, there are definitely good and bad doughnuts out there, But what could Levain possibly be bringing to the party to make them worth the hype?
Well, as it turns out – quite a lot.
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Their range of fried pastries is extensive and gloriously Aussie. Yes, you can get a Classic Jam Doughnut, if that’s your thing, but why not push the boat out and go the Donutella, plump with a cardiac-inducing measure of Nutella? Or squidge your way through the deceptively simply named Vanilla Custard? A cloudy puff stuffed full of Vanilla Bean pastry Cream.
I bet we’ve got your interest now, haven’t we?
For our research (!), we made the pilgrimage to the newest Levain Doughnuts outpost in Hawthorn.
Sat on the always busy Glenferrie Road, next door to the wonderful Samurai Hawthorn Japanese Restaurant, classy, black-edged, golden lettering marks the shop window that we’re looking for.
Once through the door, there’s a very Melbourne tier of concrete display shelves set with whichever pastries are currently available. There’s also an even more Melbourne heavy weight coffee machine, ready to balance your sugar intake with an equal dose of caffeine.
Behind the service counter, there’s the shiny chrome bones of a working kitchen.
The shop is small, but neat, tidy and chic.
And the service is helpful and efficient – even late on a Saturday evening.
Fat, airy, over-filled, decadently-topped doughnuts. All priced a $6 each.
First up, let’s talk about the pastries themselves.
And full-disclosure. In a previous life, Eatability worked at a cafe-cum-bakery and – if the Head Baker was in a good mood – was allowed to pump her own doughnuts full of jam. So she likes to think doughnuts are one of her areas of culinary expertise.
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Well at Levain Doughnuts, they’ve really mastered that basic fried dough ball. Their exterior is golden and without a trace of oil. Inside, their doughnuts are airy and naturally plump, with great structure. And they taste really good. Sometimes, a mass produced doughnut (or donut) has a definite artificial tang to it. Not so at Levain Doughnuts.
The ones that we’ve sampled so far have clearly been freshly made, from superior ingredients, and by people who know what they are doing.
We’re currently slightly obsessed with all things Biscoff – see our review of #1000 Bread’s Biscoff Cube Croissant here – and so open with Levain’s interpretation of Lotus Biscoff.
It’s a deadset triumph.
A powder-puff of aerated dough, ‘loaded’ – literally – with Lotus Biscoff Spread. It’s top shines with a rich Ganache and a splodge more of the Biscoof Spread, whilst texture comes from a scattering of Butternut Crumbs.
If you prefer Australiana over the attractions of Belgian treats, the Golden Gaytime is hard to ignore. Featuring a lush Custard Caramel middle and more of that amazing Chocolate Ganache and those Butternut Crumbs, it’s the kind of dessert re-invention that makes perfect sense as soon as you bite into it.
One of our party ‘doesn’t want anything too sweet’. Do I even know this person?! Anyway, they opt for the Apple Pie Doughnut, which turns out to be a bit of a sheep in wolves clothing, as it’s soon oozing chunks of spiced Caramelised Apple. Yum!
Before I forget, special mention has to go the ‘Vegan Friendly’ creations. The Classic Jam, regular Glazed, Cinnamon Scroll and that stellar Apple Pie are all perfectly safe for those preferring their baked goods to be 100% plant-based.
Lastly, along with their doughnuts, the crew also do boxes of Hot Dough Bites. Our choice? Probably the Caracooki ($11). These babies comes licked with melted Callebaut Gold & Crushed Oreo’s.
That coffee machine is doing good business when we pop by. Partly as there is a Doughnut + Coffee for $10 deal on the go.
And as we’re in Hawthorn, the coffee is good.
Levain aren’t exactly reinventing the doughnut, but they are certainly refining it.
Croissants have already had a face-lift, thanks to the likes of Lune Croissanterie and tarts and sweet pies have never looked better than on the counter of Tarts Anon. So maybe it was only a matter of time before someone zhuzhed up the humble donut.
But make no mistake. Levain Doughnuts are far from humble.
These are definitely the rockstars of the dough ball world.