Looking for a really good jelly donut? You may want to give these local places a try!

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It all started with a harmless little post on a Clifton Community Facebook group page about my disappointment with a local bakery’s jelly donut, and for some reason it really resonated. Apparently, I am not the only one who, while not a donut connoisseur by any means, can certainly tell a good jelly donut from a bad jelly donut. For me, it’s all about the jelly-to-donut ratio, maybe for others it might be a different criteria, but for me that’s the test of a good donut.

But really, my jelly donut addiction goes back several years to a family vacation in Long Beach Island. While on a morning walk from our beach rental, my husband and I passed a bakery (Ferrara's Bakery to be exact) with a long line outside and a big sign reading: Best Jelly Donut on the Planet. That’s a pretty aggressive claim and one that demands action, so we like dozens of other vacationers, waited on line and bought a few jelly donuts to take back to the house. To say that the claim was anything but 100% truthful would be an understatement. It was the absolute best jelly donut on the planet. Hands down. So good, in fact, that it became a part of our daily routine for the duration of our vacation — thank goodness for those long beach walks to help work off the calories.

So what made it so good? Sure the donut itself was delicious, soft and fresh and not too dense, but the thing that elevated it to the level of amazing was the amount of jelly. Literally jelly in each and every bite, but not so much that you were left with a jelly mess to contend with afterwards.

But summer is over, and unless I feel like hopping in the car for a 90 minute drive down the Parkway to LBI, I’m going to need to find a local substitute for my once-a-month jelly donut indulgence. While I’m not really expecting to find a new "Best on the Planet Champion," I’ll settle for a Best in Clifton — or at least best in the area.

My Facebook post resulted in dozens of wonderful recommendations, some we had already tried, but others that we had not. So, we set about doing a full on jelly donut taste test in a quest to crown some local winners.

In an effort to be completely fair, here’s how we did it:

  • We tested a total of eight different jelly donuts from eight different places recommended by people on my Facebook post.
  • We tasted four one day and four the next day.
  • Every donut was weighed — interesting fact was that most donuts weighed almost identical at 3.5 or 3.6 ounces, with one weighing in at a whopping 4.6 oz. and one just slightly under 3 oz.
  • We did a combination of powdered sugar and cinnamon sugar toppings.
  • We discovered that there is a proper way to eat a jelly donut: take the first bite where the jelly is injected into the donut. It allows you to taste the jelly in your initial bite, without having it shoot out onto the plate.
  • No, we did not eat the entire donut, but we did taste every single one, and we cut each in half to photograph the jelly-to-donut ratio.
  • The donuts each ranged in price from 79 cents to $1.50 per donut.

The donuts we taste tested came from:

  • Francesca’s Bakery, Market Street, Clifton
  • Styertowne Bakery, Styertowne Shopping Center, Clifton
  • Polonia Polish Bakery, Munroe Street, Passaic
  • Lakeview Bakery, Lakeview Ave., Clifton
  • Dunkin', Richfield Village Shopping Center, Clifton
  • Stop & Shop, Broad Street, Clifton
  • Shop Rite, Little Falls
  • Lyndhurst Pastry Shop, Ridge Road, Lyndhurst

Not every bakery was from Clifton, but all are close enough for a quick pick up. And, yes, we realize that there are other places we may not have tried, but we think that eight is a pretty fair sampling.

After tasting a donut from each of the bakeries, our top three choices (in random order) are:

Lyndhurst Pastry Shop (which has a Clifton connection via the Lanzerotti family) - A delicious cinnamon sugar-topped donut, and one of the few that was square, rather than round. Ample amount jelly and very good jelly distribution.

Shop Rite, Little Falls - This one offered great jelly distribution and a fluffy and soft powered donut. We were pleasantly surprised with the quality of baking from a large grocery store. Definitely worth a try and at only 79 cents, the lowest price donut on our list.

Stop & Shop, Clifton - Another high quality powdered donut came from the on-premises bakery at Stop & Shop. Very fresh, nice amount of jelly, and really tasty. The only drawback, would be that they are pre-boxed in packages of four, which may be more donuts than you need.

Honorable mention goes to Dunkin', which had a surprisingly fresh, surprisingly good jelly donut from a place that has recently re-branded itself as more of a coffee shop than a donut shop.

Big thanks to my tasting partner-in-crime (and the person who schlepped around buying donuts), Gerard Scorziello.

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