What’s in a name? For Winnipeg’s Bronuts, there’s not only the portmanteau moniker (a cheeky reference to the doughnut shop’s fraternal co-owners Dylan and Brett Zahari) but the menu reads more like a roll call than an ingredient list. Here, you’ll order Edgars and Lizzies, Dons and Harriets—a far more fun way to ask for Boston cream and certainly less of a mouthful than “beet glaze with toasted caraway”.
Bronuts began when Brett and his wife Meghan (Bronuts’ third co-owner and christener of doughnuts) returned inspired from a road trip to doughnut mecca Portland, Oregon three years ago. “[Winnipeg] didn’t have an artisan doughnut shop yet, but all the other major cities in Canada [did] ,” Meghan says. “So we were excited to bring something new to our city.” The couple set to work, sending their then-head baker to the San Francisco Baking Institute to learn all about artisan dough, and recruiting Brett’s younger brother Dylan (the culinary whiz of the family) to fine-tune the recipe.
“Essentially, most dough recipes use the same ingredients,” Meghan explains, as illustrated by the flour, milk, eggs, yeast, and butter paintings on the shop walls. “Dylan tried the same recipe, 90 different ways, experimenting with time, temperature, and ratio of ingredients. We also tried different flours and frying oil. It took a lot of trial and error to get a dough recipe that we were really happy with.”
Bronuts’ menu reads more like a roll call than an ingredient list.
All paid off when, in April 2015 with wrap-around queues outside its Exchange District café, Bronuts debuted a humble menu of Samuel, Nicholas, Madison, and Betty. “We named our first three flavours after our siblings, and the fourth after my grandmother, who passed away much too young,” says Meghan.
Now, with a repertoire of 150 or so flavours, the Bronuts menu sources further than the family tree; astute visitors can sleuth out the fictional character behind a doughnut’s namesake from its accompanying description. “No matter how hard you fall for this fiery lady, don’t you go calling her ‘Sugar’,” reads the label for the Gone with the Wind-inspired crème brûlée doughnut, Scarlett. A seasonally rotating menu typically presents eight flavours, a mix of classics, newbies, and, on Fridays, a specialty like champagne dip, Rice Krispies, or apple rose pistachio; “really crazy flavours that are too difficult to pull off every single day,” says Meghan.
To maintain its careful product, the family-run shop forgoes any artificial flavouring, making everything from scratch: jam to custard, toasted coconut to lavender glaze, and, of course, Dylan’s 90-times-tested dough itself. To pull off each day’s fresh bounty, a Bronuts baker begins the first batch at two in the morning, finishing with the toppings a mere half hour before the shop’s seven a.m. opening—a warm welcome alongside a full drink menu, including beverages using Edmonton’s Transcend Coffee , as well as house-made sodas and ciders. “We loved the idea of doughnuts and coffee because it makes the morning routine special,” Meghan says. “We saw it as a really fun way to get involved in the community.”
Further community comradery has seen the donuterie collaborate on ice cream doughnut sandwiches with local ice creamery Bridge Drive-In and, dipping into the savoury side, Bronuts’ neighbouring King + Bannatyne sandwich shop on a doughnut burger. Suffice it to say, the bros are keeping it fresh.
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