Ready to know more about San Diego?


Off-Menu: Unholy Doughnuts

Puffer Malarkey Collective’s secret doughnut operation puts the hole back in the pastry

By Sabrina Medora

Unholy Doughnuts

Every month, a secret menu of Unholy Doughnuts is available at Herb & Wood or Herb & Sea on Sundays

“I want to feel whole,” says the doughnut on the couch to the doughnut with the notepad. 

“Don’t we all, buddy…,” I mutter.

I turn back and drain the dregs of my bourbon and honey cocktail before realizing I had just spoken out loud to a caricature of a doughnut on the back of my server’s T-shirt. I inquired about it and, just like that, was ceremoniously admitted into the semisecret pastry cult that is Unholy Doughnuts

Unholy Doughnuts is the love child of many team members behind the scenes at Puffer Malarkey Collective (Herb & Wood, Herb & Sea, Animae, et al), brought to life by the group’s executive pastry chef, Laura Warren. It was the culmination of a year of dreaming about holeless doughnuts. “Once Herb & Wood started doing brunch, we decided it was time to do Unholy as a brunch pop-up,” she says.

If you’ve ever gone down a Google rabbit hole about why doughnuts usually have holes, chances are you’ve come across everything from iconic stories–like a sea captain who needed both hands to steer and so he skewered his hotcakes on the ship’s wheel—to the more plausible explanation that it just helps to cook the fried dough more evenly. The truth is, there are plenty of doughnuts that are sans hole, and the team behind Unholy Doughnuts knows that means more goodies for the gut. 

For now, the team is keeping it simple—every month they feature three unique doughnuts that are available off-menu at either Herb & Wood or Herb & Sea on Sundays. They bake only 20 doughnuts per flavor, so once they’re gone, they’re gone for the week. Avid followers of the restaurants and their chefs can spy the monthly flavors as sneak peeks on social media or simply muster up the energy to arrive early on a Sunday. But Warren says Unholy will spin off into larger pop-ups soon that’ll focus on charitable efforts. 

“It’s just a way for us to have fun,” she says. She began her pastry chef career under the Puffer Malarkey Collective umbrella, working her way up from pastry plater at Herringbone to pastry cook, pastry lead, and now executive pastry chef. “It’s such an amazing opportunity to see how things have grown and changed [with] a core group of people that have worked there the entire time.”

Warren has gained notoriety for her intricate pastries that feel delicate and sophisticated while still ringing nostalgic. “I think it brings people together when there’s something familiar,” she says. “You’re tasting a dessert that doesn’t look like something you know, but then you taste it and go, ‘Oh, this is exactly like a strawberry shortcake I had as a child.’ It brings people joy and I love doing that.”

In addition to Unholy Sundays, Herb & Sea is ramping up collaborations with local small businesses: First is a lava cake chocolate muffin made with coffee and buttermilk from Encinitas’ Ironsmith Coffee. Ironsmith owner Matthew Delarosa says it shows that “two separate businesses can work together for the greater good of creating something amazing for the community.”

Those who can’t make it to Sunday brunch can stop by Ironsmith on Mondays to buy a muffin from their pastry case as long as supplies last. In the meantime, Unholy Doughnuts is offering up the following flavors for April:

  • Strawberry and Vanilla (vanilla cream and strawberry jam with strawberry glaze)

  • Chocolate Egg (cream filling with chocolate glaze, topped with crushed Cadbury Eggs)

  • Peep (lemon curd filling with a meringue topping and Peep marshmallow candy)

Share this post

Contact Us

1230 Columbia Street, Suite 800,

San Diego, CA