The Viking-Sized Donuts of Poulsbo

Photos by Matthew Piel
The donut on the left is clearly too small for a pillaging seafarer.
The Place: If you're ever headed to Poulsbo, a small Kitsap County town facing the back of Bainbridge, you'll inevitably hear the following: "You have to go the bakery!" No one can remember the name of the place, just that they ate the best scone/eclair/donut/etc. there, and you should too.

Luckily, even without the name, it's easy to find. Sitting front and center on the Scandinavian-themed street along the waterfront, crowded with salivating customers, is Sluy's Poulsbo Bakery (18924 Front Street N.E., 360-779-2798.)

The Hole: The Viking donut.

The Shit: Apparently the bakers at Sluy's have decided that the two-story Viking towering over Shilshole Marina is a true-to-life representation of the sea-faring people. Surely such a large man couldn't be satisfied with a standard-size donut. So the Viking donut is big enough to fill a dinner plate.

Before getting to the donut itself, I wanted to learn a bit more about the people for whom Sluy's enormous pastry was named, so I turned to the ever-reliable internet. According to the Viking Answer Lady, the average height of an Icelandic male during the ninth century was about 5 feet 8 inches, hardly the hulking mass at Shilshole.

Giant pastries are like flypaper for tourists.
According to VAL, the Vikings fermented animals to preserve the meat and "beached whales were an important food resource." As far as pastries go, they ate a baked flatbread made with rye or barley. Not a lot of greasy donuts were consumed in old-world Scandinavia.

That said, a piece of hard, baked flatbread with a topping of whale blubber just didn't sound particularly appetizing to this modern sailor. So I brushed aside any historical inaccuracy and asked for one Viking donut, please.

I was a little leery biting into the enormous wheel. Sometimes pastries with tourist-trapping gimmicks--say, excessive size--sacrifice quality. The extra dough isn't cooked all the way through. Or each bite is really nothing more than a mouthful of glaze. Or the flavor just doesn't quite balance out right.

"Wow, that's actually pretty good," said my surprised sailing/donut-eating companion.

I was pretty stunned myself. The raised donut is fluffy all the way through without succumbing to its own weight. Somehow Sluy's manages the balance of airy and enormous, and the result is a donut worth sailing across Puget Sound for.

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