The pandemic has ravaged the restaurant industry since it hit in early 2020. For small mom & pop shops, especially ones that were just finding their footing, that could spell certain disaster. That was the scenario Oliboli Donuts faced when the COVID-19 shutdown hit California. They were barely 1 year old when the shutdown occurred. Thankfully, they have survived and pulled through, still able to create a variety of beautiful and delicious seasonal Donuts even with the restrictions.
Opened by Victor and Brooke DesPres, along with their daughter and son who help run the store, Oliboli Donuts is a family-run business with a simple tagline, “Old World Donuts, New World Flavors.” Their name comes from a play on the word “Oliebollen”, the Dutch word for one of the very first Donuts in history.
Walking into the clean, minimalist modern-looking store, you are greeted by a stunning array of Donuts on display (including all of their seasonal flavors).
It turns out Oliboli Donuts makes both a Yeast-Leavened Donut and a Cake Donut. The Yeast-Leavened Donuts are fresh fried-to-order(!). Every single Donut. Fried fresh when you order. Wow!
Their Cake Donuts are made once an hour; still nice.
Strawberry Donut (40 Hour Yeast Dough Dipped in our Homemade Harry’s Berries Strawberry Glaze):
Taking a bite: It’s indeed freshly fried to order! So fresh, pillowy, airy! Oliboli’s Yeast-Leavened Donuts use their 40 hour yeast dough with 30% Hard Winter Wheat stone-milled flour. It’s incredible: There’s a light, subtle tang, airy, a slight chew to the softness, and the inherently glorious fragrance and depth of flavor from Harry’s Berries Organic Strawberries distilled down into a Homemade Strawberry Glaze on top is fantastic!
And, it’s not saccharine sweet like so many Donuts we’ve had over the years.
Cocoa Nib Donut (Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Bean Glaze, Sprinkled with Valrhona Chocolate Cocoa Nibs):
This was a Cake Donut, made with Stone Milled White Sonora Wheat and Kefir. You get a bit of crunch from the Valrhona Chocolate Cocoa Nibs, light, fragrant Vanilla Bean Glaze and the moist, Cake-like center. The Chocolate flavors shine here, but it never becomes overly sweet.
Peach Upside Down Donut (Peach-Filled Cake Donut Dipped in Housemade Peach Glaze and Topped with Toasted Peach Pie Topping):
A wonderful creation from Brooke DesPrez, she takes the familiarity of a Peach Upside Down Cake and makes a balanced, tasty version in Donut form. It is a celebration of Peaches, from the aromatic Housemade Peach Glaze (infused with Peach), to slices of ripe, in-season Peaches, and toasted, lightly crunchy Peach Pie topping all on a moist, Cake Donut. It is the best Peach Cake Donut I’ve tried since I can remember.
Oliebollen (A Classic Dutch Holiday Treat: Our 40 Hour Yeast Dough with Apples, Currants, Raisins, a bit of Lemon Peel and Spices):
Despite having visited Oliboli Donuts a few times previous to this visit, we had never tried their Oliebollen, which is an old-school Dutch creation and inspiration for their store’s name. Their 40 Hour Yeast Dough is still used here, but it’s unlike their usual Yeast-Leavened Donuts, it’s almost like a Beignet. The Apples, Currants, Raisins, Lemon Peel and Spices added a “holiday” vibe to each bite. Tasty.
Bumbleberry Donut (Made with Raspberries, Marion Blackberries and Wild Blueberries):
One my favorites from their Cake Donut selection since the very 1st visit, it was as delicious as the first time I had tried it. From their website, “the name stems from the East Coast when home-cooks would make Bumbleberry Crisps because it was a way of using up the berries that you had on hand.”
Stunning! The Berry flavor was bursting through (natural Raspberry, Blackberry and Blueberry flavors), and their Cake Donut center was moist and Cake-like, with a nice lightly crisped exterior! This was probably the closest comparison to Sidecar’s Huckleberry (which I enjoy), but I think Oliboli’s Bumbleberry is tastier and less sweet.
(Seasonal) Pêche Fraîche Donut (Peach):
But the highlight of this visit might very well be their new seasonal Pêche Fraîche Donut: You see Brooke DesPrez’ prowess on full display here, using her 40 hour yeast dough base, freshly fried Donut base, with slices of perfectly ripe Matsumoto Family Farms’ Sun Crest Yellow Peaches, Housemade Peach Glaze, Almond Crème Fraîche, and Toasted Almonds on top…
You’re hit with juicy, gorgeous in-season ripe Peach flavors, the Housemade Peach Glaze is not overly sweet and just reinforces the fireworks going off in your brain, and then the pairing with the beautiful nutty Almond Crème Fraîche (absurd how good this is), with Toasted Almonds afterwards on a hot, just out of the fryer, freshly fried Donut?
Stupid Good! A must order especially for Peach Lovers!
Green Tea Matcha Latte (w/ Almond Milk):
Ordering this “lightly sweet”, there’s only a hint of Sugar, mainly just refreshing, grassy Matcha notes.
Chocolate Donut (Cocoa Powder, Milk, and Dark Chocolates):
Pure, decadent Chocolate notes. And a consistent soft crumble of the Cake Donut base.
Banana Peanut Butter Donut (White Sonora Wheat Heirloom Grain Cake with Roasted Bananas, Banana Chunks, Peanut Butter Glaze & Salted Peanut Crunch Topping):
Banana and Peanut Butter complement each other pretty well, and they were front and center in this latest offering from Oliboli. I really enjoyed the Roasted Peanut crunchiness contrasting the White Sonora Wheat Grain Cake base. Not as good as their legendary Campfire Donut (a must order when you see it back on the menu!), but still delicious!
Vegan Marionberry Donut:
Oliboli also serves a few types of Vegan Donuts no matter the season. On this visit, they had just debuted a new Vegan Marionberry Donut which sounded wonderful. (Their Vegan Bibingka Donut from our 1st visit was outstanding, so we had confidence that Owner DesPrez could deliver.)
The Vegan Marionberry Donut was of the Cake variety, and just as moist as their regular Cake Donuts. There was so much Marionberry and fruity flavors coming through that you didn’t really notice nor care that it was Vegan. It was just an excellent Donut period.
(Seasonal) Marionberry Cobbler Donut (Our 40 Hour Wild Yeast with a Marionberry Filling, Marionberry Whipped Cream and a Little Biscuit on Top):
Their new Seasonal Marionberry Cobbler Donut was a celebration of Marionberries, which are a special cultivar of Blackberries. They had a pleasing sweet-tart Berry taste, and tasted more standout than regular Blackberries. The overall Cobbler was very good, with the Yeast Leavened Donut base giving each bite a light, airy quality, freshly fried, so it was still warm-hot, making it even more addicting.
Marionberry Jam Donut:
Their other Marionberry Seasonal offering was a Marionberry Jam Donut: Their housemade Marionberry Jam was exploding with that sweet-tart Marionberry flavor, a bit earthier and sweeter than Blackberries, and the just fried Yeast Donut was a great match.
Blood Orange Donut (Blood Orange, Lemon Curd, Blood Orange Glaze):
Another seasonal offering, there was a fragrant citrus note pervading every bite, a true celebration of Blood Orange Fruit.
Besides the unusual flavor not commonly seen on Donuts, the actual taste was fantastic: For Pistachio lovers everywhere, Brooke DesPrez really creates a wonderful flavor infusion of Roasted Pistachios within the Pistachio Praline Cream Glaze but also with the crumbled Roasted Pistachios sprinkled on top of the Yeast Leavened Donut that’s still hot and fresh from the fryer (made to order).
Amaretto Donut (Almond Cake, Amaretto Glaze, Candied Almonds):
A fantastic Cake Donut with an outstanding Almond Cake base, crumbly, moist, and the satisfying, pleasing flavor of Amaretto Liqueur in the glaze, and nutty Candied Almonds to finish things off.
Burnt Butter Bourbon Bacon Donut (Burnt Butter Bourbon Glaze, Fried Fresh Bacon Bit Crumble):
It seems like the “Maple Bacon Donut” is becoming so ubiquitous these days that it’s sort of like Avocado Toast; you see it everywhere. During our 1st visit, we weren’t sure about ordering this, but our server enthusiastically recommended it so we gave it a try.
I’m so glad we did. It’s been one of our favorites ever since.
First, not only is the Yeast-Leavened Donut freshly fried and hot, but the Bacon is freshly fried to order as well!
Yes. Freshly Fried Bacon with the Freshly Fried Donut.
The Bacon was crispy and that Burnt Butter Bourbon Glaze wasn’t sickly sweet like some versions around town, so you got savory, crispy Bacon, Butter Bourbon Glaze, and the airy, cloud-like Donut.
(So much better than Sidecar’s Bacon Donut.)
Bavarian Cream Donut (Our 40-Hour-Yeast Dough Dipped in a Rich Chocolate Glaze with a Scoop of our Vanilla Pastry Cream on Top):
This is as decadent as the 1st time we ordered: There’s a taste of quality Chocolate in the Housemade Chocolate Glaze, which then transitions to a gush of the light, delicate Vanilla Pastry Cream all on top of their airy, light Yeast Leavened Donut using their 40 hour yeast dough. Fantastic!
Cocoa Nib Donut (Chocolate Cake, Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Bean Glaze, Sprinkled with Valrhona Chocolate Cocoa Nibs):
Coffee Crunch Donut (Coffee Glaze, Coffee Cream Filling, Coffee Whipped Cream, Coffee Honeycomb, Cocoa Nibs, Wild Yeast Bullseye):
Just reading the description of this new creation sounded amazing, and taking a bite, it was beyond what I had imagined. For those that might be curious what makes Oliboli so special, look no further than Donut Maestro Brooke DesPrez’s new Coffee Crunch Donut.
First, it should be noted, I’m not a Coffee aficionado (I’m more of a Tea fan). But here you have greatness: It starts with a freshly fried Yeast Leavened Donut, fluffy, airy, fried to order. The Housemade Coffee Glaze has a beautiful Coffee aroma, but is lightly sweet, then you’re hit with a stunning Coffee Cream filling (which is quite light), but elevated further by a Coffee Whipped Cream, and then you get a Coffee Honeycomb crunch and further crunchiness from Cocoa Nibs.
It is absurd. It is glorious. It is a masterpiece.
The glorious natural pink color comes from the Hibiscus Flower, probably more commonly enjoyed as the ever-popular Agua Fresca known as Jamaica. Like the drink, there’s a nice tartness to balance out the sweet.
Raspberry Jelly Filled Donut:
Cherry Heart Donut:
In time to celebrate Valentine’s Day, the Cherry Heart is a Cake-based Donut, infused with Cherries in the Cake base. It has a beautiful tart-sweet quality, with Cherry flavors coming through.
Lavender Sugar Donut:
This looks like a basic Sugar Donut, but the visuals belie the wonderful, delicate floral qualities of Lavender infused in the Sugar. There’s just the right touch to make it standout without overpowering the Donut.
Meyer Lemon Donut:
There is a reason the Meyer Lemon Donut has remained on Oliboli’s permanent menu: This Yeast-Leavened Donut is ridiculous!
Like the first time I tried it, it arrives nearly piping hot (cool enough for them to glaze it), super fresh, it was like biting into a cloud! There was a subtle tang again with their 40 hour yeast dough base, and the Meyer Lemon glaze was beautifully citrusy, aromatic, and not overly sweet again. Always a highlight!
Banoffee Donut (Inspired by the Traditional English Banoffee Pie. We Top our Yeast Dough with Homemade Banana Whipped Cream, Fresh Banana Slices, Toffee Sauce, and a bit of Streusel Crumbs):
This was the only misstep we’ve tried at Oliboli in all of our numerous visits: The Banoffee Donut had great Banana flavors, but was too sweet. It’s the only Donut we’ve had at Oliboli that was this sweet, which, to be fair, was about the average sweetness of most other Donut shops locally that we’ve tried over the years.
(Seasonal) Ispahan Donut (Raspberry Lychee Glaze, Lychee Pastry Cream, Fresh Lychee, Rose Whipped Cream, Raspberry Dust, Fresh Raspberry, Wild Yeast, 40 Hour Bullseye):
Absolutely visually gorgeous. According to Oliboli, it’s their take “on the iconic pastry by Pierre Hermé. Created in Paris at Ladurée; named for the ancient city in Persia known for its roses.” Taking a bite, there is a balance of Raspberry and Lychee, but as personal preference I would love a stronger Lychee flavor coming through. The Rose was subtle and added a beautiful fragrance.
While gourmet or elevated Donut Shops are becoming more commonplace, what sets Oliboli Donuts apart are a few key things: (1) They fresh-fry every Yeast-Leavened Donut you order, when you order it(!). That alone is incredible and worth celebrating! Their Cake Donuts are very moist and made fresh every hour (or sooner if they sell out faster).
(2) Their Donuts are not overly sweet / saccharine like every other Donut place we’ve tried, which lets you appreciate the other natural flavors more.
(3) Their flavors shine as a result: The Meyer Lemon Donut has a beautiful Meyer Lemon flavor that comes through. The Bumbleberry is a celebration of all things Berries (Raspberries, Marion Blackberries and Blueberries), without being too sweet. The Coffee Crunch is the stuff of legends: Glorious Coffee Bean aroma, delicate sweetness, crunch from the Honeycomb and Cocoa Nibs and the airy fluffy freshly fried Yeast Leavened Donut.
Oliboli Donuts is the first shop that made me think about wanting to return to try more flavors right after our 1st visit. 8 visits later, it still delights and surprises.
135 W. First Street, Suite #B
Tustin, CA 92780
Tel: (714) 760-4876