The Place: The Salty Donut in the Wynwood Arcade, a bare- bones popup for the last year, just opened as a permanent store in the same arcade last Saturday. Long lines form each day before the doors open as trays are set out with displays of donuts available and racks are filled with donuts.
The History: Cuban-American owners Andre “Andy” Rodriguez and fiancé Amanda Pizarro met online three years ago and traveled the country researching artisanal donut shops, especially on the West Coast. They decided to bring the concept home to Miami, where both of them grew up. They approached Max Santiago, a pastry chef at the former Seagrape by Michelle Bernstein, and Santiago concluded the duo had a solid business plan and a great idea so he partnered with them. Santiago crafts the donuts with a team in a kitchen in the Little River area. Santiago, of Cuban and Colombian descent, grew up in Miami where his love of drawing and sculpting led him to go to the culinary program at the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale 20 years ago after working in the kitchen of an air force base in the Florida Panhandle for four years. The three work as a team and come up with the flavors together.
The Donuts: The donuts are oversize, with most made from 24 hour-proofed brioche dough (there are also cake donuts). Everything is made from scratch including fillings, glazes and Bavarian cream. There is a small menu of donuts that are always available including maple bacon using real maple syrup and Miami Smokers bacon with a glaze made by reducing locally brewed J. Wakefield dark porter to molasses, adding a malty, hoppy note to counter the sweetness. There are also brioche donuts with Tahitian vanilla bean glaze; brown butter and salt cake donuts sprinkled in Maldon sea salt; brioche guava and cheese donuts with a cream cheese glaze and crumbled Maria cookies; and baked chocolate cake donuts with salted chocolate glaze and cacao nibs. Current seasonal donuts include spiced gingerbread cake donuts with molasses glaze and milk drizzle; sweet potato pie cake donuts; torched pumpkin donuts with pumpkin custard topped with butternut toffee, candied pecans and crème fraiche and the cannoli donut. There’s also spiked bourbon apple cider crisp donut holes and peanut butter holes with cranberry jelly. Coffee drinks range from cold brewed to salted caramel latte. Once you try a salty donut you’ll stand in line like everyone else.
You didn’t know this: The donut is thought to have been the creation of 19th century Dutch settlers in America, where it was also known as an oliekoek or “oil cake,” a sweet yeast-risen ring-shaped cake fried in oil. In July, Max Santiago and Andy Rodriguez were flown to Toronto to compete on the Cooking Channel’s “Sugar Showdown” show that aired Sept. 14. They won the championship with their cannoli donut shaped like a plump cannoli made with brioche dough flavored with vanilla bean, honey and citrus zest stuffed with white chocolate ricotta and dipped in white chocolate with each end covered in crushed pistachios —much more gourmet than an oil cake.