Polina Butsenko from Toppedwith chats to scrumptious vegan doughnut bakers Borough 22.
You hear a knock on the door. The excitement is building up. A delivery man hands you a box, but you already know what’s inside. You were thinking about them for the past 3 days. When you open the box, you can’t help but gasp as you look at the gorgeous doughnuts, all colourful and perfectly shaped. The smell is incredible. You can tell they are fresh. All hand made by Ryan. The awesome guy behind these indulgent creations. You can say he is living the doughnut dream at his base, Borough 22.
It pleases me to know that more and more vegan bakeries are popping up. They all go beyond what’s expected and blow you away with flavour. When I heard about Ryan and his life changing doughnuts, that are vegan and gluten free, I knew I had to learn more about him and his journey.
Hi Ryan, were you always passionate about baking?
I always loved sweet things. The whole baking desire came to me at the same time as the big cupcake boom in London. Back then there was quite a few cooking shows around so inspiration was never an issue. There was also a girl at work who had a passion for baking. We loved chatting about different techniques and flavour combinations, make Jaffa cakes as well as cupcakes and occasionally bring them in.
Why did you decide to do vegan and gluten free doughnuts?
In 2011 I and my wife booked the trip to New York. There we have visited a bakery called “Babycakes” which is completely vegan and gluten-free as well as free from. We couldn’t believe how many amazingly looking goodies were on display. They tasted heavenly and my wife couldn’t stop raving about them. She is gluten and dairy intolerant and my kids are dairy intolerant. Seeing how happy it made her I bought their cookbook and I couldn’t wait to start baking for my family.
Do you remember the moment when you decided to open Borough 22?
After coming back from New York, I experimented a lot in my kitchen, back then it was mostly cupcakes and brownies. My sister in law kept saying that they tasted better that the ones in market stalls. So, after receiving positive feedback from my relatives and friends I decided to seriously pursue baking and open a small business.
So many tasty options. How do you decide on your flavours?
When we first started, I was delivering on any flavours people were requesting. As the word got out and more orders were coming in, it was very hard to keep up as I have a full-time job to support my family. I wanted to make sure that I deliver on the quality. So, I restricted myself to a few key flavours, these are also the ones that tend to be the most popular. My favourite one is sugar cinnamon. It reminds me of the cinnamon doughnut I used to get at the doughnut truck when I was a kid. It’s like this scene in Ratatouille the movie when the food memory transports you back to your happy childhood moments.
What makes Borough 22 successful?
I think that being vegan and gluten free definitely helps. I believe the timing was right as well. People’s awareness of allergies is now increasing. Also, the lifestyle has changed towards less refined and more healthy eating.
Instagram played a big part in our success. It was a platform I used from day one. Selfridges, for example, found out about us through this platform. Somebody shared pictures of my doughnuts on Selfridge’s account saying you need to get Borough 22 into your store. And that was the trigger that got me into their food hall.
Any plans for National doughnut week?
For me, national doughnut week is all about the taste. Bringing awesome flavours together. Last year we had maple glazed & bacon doughnut as well as cornflake & chocolate ganache doughnut. Both went down really well. Definitely, check us out this year as we will make sure to bring you something cool.
Thank you, Ryan, for your time. I have one last question for you, as a Londoner, are there any cool places that you really like?
The Watch House on Bermondsey street. It’s like a great product hub with amazing quality coffee. Timberyard in Seven Dials- love the entrepreneurial spirit here. The quality of the coffee is also top notch. Soon you will be able to collect our amazing product from there as well. The last one would be Brooklyn Coffee shop on the Commercial street. Very small and everything they do is quality.
All I want to add is that I really enjoyed chatting with Ryan. You could clearly see that he cares deeply about what he does. I love how he is able to touch people’s lives with his work and that to me is truly inspiring. I wish him all the best in his doughnut journey. Please check him out on his Facebook page and let’s make sure that his doughnut goodies will continue to bring happiness to everyone.
About the author
Toppedwith’s blog is all about connecting people to some of the most passionate entrepreneurs in London. Finding out their stories fill their days with excitement, and brings them a lot of joy to share their passion with you. Toppedwith want to bring Londoners closer together, so join them on this awesome adventure. Keep up to date with the latest from Toppedwith on their website, Facebook or Instagram.