The world of donuts is quite exciting in 2020. Whether speaking with suppliers or donut shop owners, what I’ve found is that the possibilities for this treat are endless.

By creating dessert-style donuts that are not only tasty but visually stimulating, you encourage customers to come back to your shop again and again, and even line up around the block. This is especially the case with limited-time offerings.

“People line up over those three days. It’s ridiculous,” says PVDonuts co-founder Lori Kettelle, about the shop’s “Friendsgiving” donut that makes an appearance around Thanksgiving every year. “People love that and we do it every year now.”

It starts with thinking outside the box. Donuts are canvases to create on, so let your inventiveness guide you on flavor and presentation. According to Eleonora Lahud, corporate chef for C&H Sugar, trends that are currently hot in gourmet donuts include theme donuts (think cereal donuts or donuts based on Girl Scout cookie flavors) and “spiked donuts” infused with liqueurs, rum or bourbon. Use these ideas as jumping-off points for your creations.

No matter how good your donuts look and taste, it won’t matter if customers can’t access them. That is especially difficult right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as households are less likely to make a special visit for donuts. Dawn has recommended that shops provide at-home decorating kits to families, so consumers can top their own gourmet donuts in the comfort of their homes.

“We’ve already seen some success with our customers implementing this in their local bakeries,” says Sam Jones, Dawn Foods’ director of category ingredient marketing, North America.

You can also utilize social media to showcase your donuts. As more bakers continue to engage with consumers on social media, especially as many are social distancing in the age of COVID-19, toppings are a fun way to make donuts pop on social feeds.

In bake magazine’s second-ever digital special report, we look at all things donuts, from top (glazes and toppings) to bottom (shortenings and mixes).