Thursday, August 21, 2014

Posh Bakery

The Posh Bakery is a wholesale bakery located in San Francisco, providing baked goods to retail stores, cafes, and restaurants worldwide.  They also have 14 retail stores of their own in the area, under The Posh Bagel line.

I haven't visited the stores, but my office got our morning muffins, danishes, and scones from them for years.  I was never impressed.  The danishes and croissants I always thought were awful, the muffins were never really good, and the scones were only worth eating when I really, really wanted a baked good.  Luckily, we stopped sourcing from Posh Bakery and the pastry team started making all of their own morning pastries.  I hadn't thought about Posh Bakery in a couple years, until ... my office introduced Donut Friday.

Now, Donut Friday *should* be an amazing thing.  And I have to admit, it looks impressive, every Friday morning when I arrive.  For the first few weeks, I was convinced that Donut Friday could be a success.  I mean, come on, piles of donuts in every style and variety imaginable.  How can you go wrong?  The answer is simple: source your donuts from Posh Bakery.

For the first few weeks, I thought I must somehow just be picking the wrong donuts.  Maybe I just didn't like their raised donuts.  Maybe it was just the cake donuts.  Maybe the vegan ones would be good.  No.  Their donuts are just bad, all of them.  I love donuts.  I'm not asking for freshly made donuts like the amazing ones we received at the end of our meal at Cyrus, or The French Laundry.  I'm not asking for delicious foie gras donuts like we had at one of Lafitte's foie gras dinners.  But even the baked-months-ago, loaded with preservatives, and wrapped in cellophane ones from Walgreens are better than these.

I tried far more of these donuts than I'd care to admit.  I was convinced I'd find a winner.  In particular, I was convinced that somehow, sometime, the apple fritter would be delicious.  But, it never, ever was.  None of them were.  Worst. Donuts. Ever.



I started with the raised donuts.  All were light and airy, but generally tasted stale.
Apple Fritter.
Ah, the fritter.  Always one of the first donuts to disappear from a box. Obviously the one I tried first.

"A favorite for all, our moist apple fritter filled with ripe apple chucks and is soft on the inside and crusty on the outside.  It's not too sweet and has just the right amount of glaze to make it a masterpiece."

"Filled with ripe apple chunks"?  I beg to disagree.  I didn't find any apple in my first one at all.  It did have some cinnamon, and it was incredibly well glazed.  I liked the crustiness.  The first time I had it, I deemed it fine, but really not a great apple fritter.

On another occasion, I got one that actually had bits of apple in it.  So I take it back, sometimes, they do have apple chunks.  It was still not particularly good though.

And on another day, I tried another, again, there was some apple, I appreciated the crustiness, but still, it was just not a very good donut.

Yet I tried another.  It was so bogged down with oil. I couldn't even taste the sweetness this time, literally, just oil.  I can't resist these because they are apple fritters, but ugh, so bad.

Yet somehow my third favorite of all of their offerings.
Glazed Twist.
On that same first day, I also couldn't resist the glazed twist.  Don't judge, it is totally reasonable to have 2 donuts for breakfast.

"Our twist donut is hand-twisted and made with our light and fluffy raised donut recipe.  It is coated with a delicate icing and ready to be devoured."

It was totally unremarkable.  The donut seemed dried out.  It tasted very fried.  The glaze was crusty, as if stale, but I had it at 8am, right after they were delivered.  It had a good fluffiness, but was not good.
Cinnamon Roll Donut.
Next, a "cinnamon roll donut".

"Our cinnamon roll donut is prepared with our light and airy dough that we coat with a spicy cinnamon and sugar mix on the inside.  It is then rolled, sliced and covered with the perfect amount of glaze to make it delicious."

First, what is a cinnamon roll ... donut?  Answer: a dried out cinnamon roll, without the flaky goodness of a cinnamon roll, covered in hard icing.  Meh.

Yet, of course I had another.  This time I knew not to expect a cinnamon roll.  It did seem like a decent raised donut, airy and light, with some slight glaze.   But the cinnamon was totally lost, and thinking of it as a cinnamon roll would certainly result in disappointment.

Cake Donuts

After many disappointing raised donuts, I decided that perhaps cake donuts were just more of Posh's thing.  They were certainly different, denser, but all just tasted like bad old oil.
"Our crumb donut is made using our original recipe cake donut covered with icing and a tasty crumb topping." 

It tasted way too fried.  The crumb topping was slightly spiced, but I'm not sure by what.  Meh.

[ Update review: still oily and fried tasting, and why would I want my donut coated in crumb topping? ]
Maple with Coconut.
"This original recipe cake donut is first hand-dipped in rich maple icing, then sprinkled with fresh coconut shavings. "

Ok, this had to be better, right?  No.  Again, a spongy, too fried tasting cake donut.  The icing was clearly not just plain white glaze, but I didn't taste much maple.  There was lots of shredded coconut, but it wasn't toasted, so it was just soggy on the outside.  I really did not like this one.
Plain Old Fashioned.
 "Our famous old fashion plain donut has all the flavor and everything you'd expect from a great old fashion donut."

And, you guessed it, too fried tasting, not particularly interesting.

[ No Photo ]

This was a basic cake donut, with little bits of blueberry inside. They were flavorless, and honestly I couldn't tell what kind of donut this was supposed to be. It was dense, greasy, and quite gross, like all of their donuts. The only good aspect was the light glaze on top.

Bar Donuts

Ok, so the raised donuts were stale, the cake donuts were oily.  How about ... the bar donuts?
Glazed Buttermilk.
"Our glazed buttermilk bar is made with is our original buttermilk recipe and then covered with a delicate glaze.  This bar is full of the buttermilk flavor you'd expect."

This was one of the better donuts.  The donut base is cake style, denser than the raised donuts, but not as oily as the round cake donuts, and it did indeed have a slight buttermilk tang to it.  The glaze was well distributed and sweet, but not too hard and crusty, as was an issue with the iced donuts.  It reminded me of the fritter, just without the apple, and with a tang (not that their fritter had much apple anyway).  My favorite of the donuts.

So I had another a few weeks later.  I still appreciated the tang and the fact that it wasn't as nasty oil tasting as the raised donuts, but, it too tasted stale.  It was still the best of the lot, but not very good.

[ Update review: still one of the better choices, but, not good.  The base flavor of their donuts is just too strong on the "old, stale oil" spectrum ]
Bavarian Cream Filled Chocolate Glazed.
"Our chocolate bar is made with our light and fluffy raised donut recipe and hand-dipped in rich dark chocolate icing.  This bar comes unfilled to be enjoyed as-is, or may be ordered filled on the inside with creamy and lightly sweet bavarian cream. "

This should be the ultimate donut, basically an eclair, or, if you are from the east coast, a Boston Cream.  But, as you read earlier, their raised donut base is just not very good.  Sure it is fluffy, but it just tastes so oily.  Even the chocolate coating on this was strange tasting, too heavy.  The bavarian cream was the part I was most excited for, but it too disappointed.  Even Jell-o pudding has more going on than this cream.  Would certainly not get again.

Ojan, who adores Boston Cream donuts and eclairs, didn't even want a second bite of this.
Bavarian Cream Filled Maple Glazed.
"Our maple bar is made with our light and fluffy raised donut recipe and hand-dipped in good ol' fashion maple icing.  This bar comes unfilled to be enjoyed as-is, or may be ordered filled on the inside with creamy and lightly sweet bavarian cream."

This was no better.  Same oily, gross base donut, same off putting bavarian cream, same maple icing as before (hard, just sweet, no maple flavor).  Definitely wouldn't try again.

Filled Donuts

Ok ... what about round filled donuts?
Lemon Filled.
This was a standard filled donut, covered in powdered sugar, filled with lemon ... stuff.

The dough was basically the same as all their other raised donuts, although in this case it was more dried out than bad fried oil tasting, an improvement I guess.  I did like the powdered sugar on the outside, it helped the less-than-notable dough take on a more interesting flavor.

The filling was lemon ... goo?  Sorta a jelly perhaps?  Since I don't tend to like lemon, I did not expect to like this, but, strangely, it wasn't bad.  The lemon was sweet and tangy, although the consistency of the lemon goo was certainly a bit strange.  And the donut itself wasn't good.  But the powdered sugar saved it.  I can't say that I want another, but this was my second favorite overall.
Raspberry Filled.
Another filled donut, this time glazed, and filled with raspberry goo.

The dough was fluffy, raised dough, but, just like many of their donuts tasted like only one thing: old fryer oil.  And it seemed stale.  The glaze was flaking off.  Basically exactly like the glazed twist.
Inside the Raspberry Filled.
And inside ... the goo.  I've ceased calling it jelly, as goo really does more accurately describe the situation.

It had no flavor, and the same horrible gooey consistency as the lemon.  Very low quality.

Everything about this donut was bad, and it was one of my least favorites.


I don't even know why I was still trying at this point.  But, maybe the vegans knew something that I didn't ...
Blueberry Glazed.
This just tasted strange.  The texture was strange.  Clearly vegan, and not very good.  The icing was tasty, but the donut just boring.
Cherry Glazed.
Taking a play from its non-vegan siblings, this just tasted fried, and had no real cherry flavor.


As I said, we used to get their scones as well.  Luckily, I was taking notes, even back then.  You can see subsequent notes [ in brackets ].  The scones are my favorite of their baked goods, but I would certainly never seek them out.
Blueberry Lemon Scone.

Same as other scones, always mediocre.  Loaded with blueberries though, which were very flavorful. 

[ Dry, doughy, no lemon flavor. Not many blueberries. Nothing good here. ] [ Tons of plump blueberries, but dry and doughy, subtle lemon ] [ Very dry, lots of blueberries in the middle, but so dry, not much flavor, and totally burnt. ]
Cranberry Orange Walnut.
"We hand-fold in the fruit center and grace the top with sparkling sugar crystals. "  

Same as others, very mediocre.  My chunk only had cranberry (no orange/walnut detected). [ Again, no orange or walnut, but there were plump cranberries. Kinda doughy, not that great, but enjoyable enough with coffee ] [ Dry, crumbly. Base scone just doesn’t have any flavor.  I’m still not sure this is really a “cranberry orange walnut” scone, as I can’t ever find anything but cranberry! ] [ Again, no orange or walnut, but lots of plump, juicy cranberries. Very strong cranberry flavor as a result. If you like cranberry, you’ll like this! So much fruit that it is easy to overlook the dry boring scone. ]

Update 2018: This scone has not improved in the 4 years since I last had it.  Dry, flavorless, crumbly base.  Hard bits of cranberry.  Not good.  Yay for sugar crystals on top?

[ Other Scones ]
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  • Maple Oatmeal Raisin: Tasting notes: nice icing on top, but hard, not good flavors.  Ok oatmeal flavor, but sorta mushy inside. [ Hard style. Nice maple glaze on top. Definitely my favorite of their scones.] [ Best scone I've had from them, but not that great. ] [ Nice texture from oatmeal ] [ Very dry, good hearty texture, but not that great overall ]
  • Raspberry Peach: Tasting notes: Hard style, sugar top. Very, very doughy surrounding fruit, I think it was undercooked. Raspberry is nice flavor, peach just sorta mushy. [ It was definitely undercooked last time. Now just kinda soggy, not very good. Soft, crumbly, no flavor. ]


The muffins were all super generic and not good.
Poppyseed Muffin.
  • Banana Nut: "Topped generously with fresh walnut chunks, this delicious muffin is full of flavor and a real a favorite."  Tasting notes: flavorless, couldn’t detect banana at all, moist/soggy texture.  Not good.
  • Cranberry Orange: “Our cranberry-orange muffin is made with plump and juicy whole cranberries. We add minced bits of orange rind to marry two tangy sweet flavors together into one muffin”. Tasting notes: Cranberry did have tartness and strong flavor, muffin itself was really strange bright orange flavor, moderately moist but not very good at all. Very generic, like grocery store muffin.
  • Double Chocolate: “We combine delicious moist dark chocolate muffin and fold it together with plenty of rich milk chocolate chips. Just when you think it can't get any better, a few more chocolate chips are thrown on top.” Tasting notes: Dry, chalky. Not good chocolate flavor. Not good at all. 
  • Poppyseed: "Our poppy seed muffin is a harmonious blend of almond flavor and poppy seeds mixed together.  We top this muffin with slivered almonds and bake it to perfection."  Tasting notes: The consistency of this muffin was all off.  It was ... spongy?  Not moist, not dry, but almost gummy?  I did like the slivered almonds on top, and the almond flavor in the base, rather than standard lemon with poppyseed, but it was just all wrong texture-wise.


The danishes, even worse.  I put their danish dough on par with their donuts.
Vienna Cream Danish.
  • Apple Cinnamon Danish: “This buttery danish has a generous dopple of chunky apple filling placed on top of our flakey dough. The danish is lightly brushed with an apricot glaze and baked to a golden brown.”. Tasting notes: Same danish dough that I don’t like. Topped with goeey not very good apple jelly like stuff, and some chunks of mushy apple.
  • Bearclaw: “Pure rich danish dough and filled on the inside with a traditional blend of chocolate and almond bearclaw filling. We delicately brush the outside with a translucent apricot glaze and top it with thin sweet/toasted almond slices.” Tasting notes: plentiful almond slices on the outside.  Decent flavored filling. I’m still not a fan of their danish dough and the ratio of filling/dough is a little off - too much dough.
  • Raisin swirl: “This swirled buttery danish is heavily speckled with plump juicy raisins throughout.” Tasting notes: Same not good pastry dough as others, no extra flavor, meh raisins. [ Same danish bread I don’t like, swirled with raisins. Do not like.] [ Same dried out, not good danish bread.  It looked like it would be good due to cinnamon visible, but it wasn’t. ]
  • Vienna Cream: “Buttery and twisted danish dough has a dopple of lightly sweet custard filling placed on top of our flaky dough. The danish is lightly brushed with an apricot glaze.” Tasting notes: Same danish dough that I find not very flavorful and sorta soggy.  Nice custard filling. [ Ugh, the danish dough is horrible.  Soggy, not flaky, not buttery.  The cream in the middle tastes nice, but the pastry is just way too nasty. ]


The croissants have the same dough as the danishes, thus, disappointing.
Cheese Croissant.
  • Almond: “Our almond croissant is our buttery, flaky croissant dough wrapped around a traditional almond paste. This distinctive croissant is then topped with almond slivers and lightly dusted with powdered sugar”. Tasting notes: almond marzipan filling, croissant shell, topped with powdered sugar and almond slices.  The croissant part is just not very good.   Inside was nice flavor, but doesn't make up for gross croissant dough.
  • Cheese: "Our cheese croissant is a delicate yet flavorful croissant pastry that is filled with a rich creamy cheese inside. "  Tasting notes: if they would just get some decent pastry dough ... ugh.  Spongy, not flaky, stale tasting, just really horrible pastry.  The cheese filling was fine.
  • Chocolate: “This flaky croissant pastry is generously filled on the inside with rich dark chocolate that melts when we bake it. After baking, we drizzle the top with just the right amount of dark chocolate." Tasting notes: Decent amount of chocolate filling, lots of chocolate swirled on top. Same not very good pastry dough as danishes.

Breakfast Treats

Pecan Sticky Bun
  • Pecan Sticky Bun: Tasting notes: How do you make even a pecan sticky bun unappealing?  Dried out dough.  So dried out.  Not moist.  Not buttery.  Not good. The glaze at least was sweet, but the pecans were burnt and bitter.  There wasn't much cinnamon.  Perhaps one of their better baked goods, but this really isn't saying anything.


  • Cinnamon Raisin: "This classic flavor combination brings a wonderful aroma of spicy warm cinnamon and each bite brings a delicate cinnamon flavor along with the taste of plump fruity raisins. "  Tasting notes: ok cinnamon flavor but not a very good bagel. [ Not much flavor, only 2 raisins in whole thing, not good texture to the bagel dough itself. ]
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