There's a bit of anxiety that comes with biting into a custard-filled doughnut. It often explodes in a mess of filling that drips on your chin and fingers and, taste-wise, too-much filling and too-much sugar can pound the palate, leaving you with a dissatisfied "meh".
Such is not the case at Holtman's Donuts outside of Cincinnati in Loveland, Ohio. Opened in 1950 by Charles Holtman, they had 13 stores in their heyday, but rising sugar prices and the decline in the doughnut's trendability brought them down to only their Loveland and Williamsburg locations. Now Charles' daughter Toni and her husband Chuck run the shop along with their son Danny, and they've held tight to what is classic while moving forward when something fun calls to them like, say, their "doughsant" version of a cronut.
What they nail, though, are the classics. The key to their Custard Filled Long John ($1) is balance. Their doughnut dough is stellar; a spot-on amount of sweet with a texture that is soft throughout but doesn't collapse with a bite or the slice of a knife. They pipe in a house-made custard that isn't too sweet. While on first glance it looks sub-par in quantity, it's actually just the right amount for every bite. On top of that, the icing actually tastes like chocolate, rather than just a smear of confectioners sugar, so the combination of vanilla custard and chocolate icing both get their place with a chew.
Altogether, you get a perfect balance of everything—doughnut, custard and icing—so that you can taste and enjoy each. Oh, and in case you didn't quite catch that above, they're a dollar. A dollar! Which is why it's no surprise that these have been a constant classic for Holtman's and sell out particularly quickly.
If you live in Cincinnati proper and aren't drooling quite enough to make it to Loveland or Williamsburg, fear not; they're opening a new Over the Rhine location (hopefully) by the end of August.
Holtman's Donut Shop
1399 Ohio 28, Loveland, OH 45140 (map)
(513) 575-1077 holtmansdonutshop.com