The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019








Chichester Country Store
257 Main St., Chichester, 798-5081
Hours: Monday through Friday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., Sunday, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. The grill closes daily at 2 p.m.

More donuts
Freshly made apple cider donuts can also be found in New Hampshire at:

• Applecrest Farm,
133 Exeter Road, Hampton Falls, 926-3721,
• Carter Hill Orchard, 73 Carter Hill Road, Concord, 225-2625,
• Gould Hill Orchards, 656 Gould Hill Road, 746-3811,
• Meadow Ledge Farm, 612 Route 129, Loudon, 798-5860,
• Sunnycrest Farm, 55 High Range Road, Londonderry, 432-9652,

Know of another producer of apple cider donuts? Let us know for possible inclusion in a future Weekly Dish by emailing

Destination: donut
Chichester shop makes them from scratch


They’re the first thing you smell when you walk into the Chichester Country Store. Some days the scent wafts outside and greets you in the parking lot.

Ron Panneton and his wife Robin purchased the store from the bank two years ago and began making their now famed apple cider donuts less than a week after opening.

A lot of country stores have been put out of business recently. Many strive to compete with convenience store chains by carrying packaged food and necessities, such as toiletries. The Pannetons have instead decided to make their bakery and restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch, the focus of their business. They make their apple cider donuts daily year-round.

On weekends the store’s parking lot can be full of cars bearing license plates from all around New England and New York.

“They say they heard about our cider donuts,” Panneton said.

Between 1 and 5 a.m. on any given day, the Pannetons and a few bakers can be found mixing and boiling apple cider donuts in the store’s kitchen.

“We usually work until no one can keep their eyes open,” Ron Panneton said. “That’s when we say that’s it, no more production.”

Recently, the Pannetons and their bakery staff made an estimated 1,000 dozen donuts — yes, 12,000 donuts — in one week.

“We make a lot more this time of year,” Panneton said. “We don’t make anywhere near 1,000 dozen during a normal week.” The Pannetons have plans to purchase additional equipment to allow for an increase in production.

Often times the apple cider donuts sold at farms and orchards are made using a mix and automated equipment, Panneton said. Panneton’s apple cider donuts are made using a recipe of his own creation and are made from scratch.

“The fact is [farm employees] are not professional donut makers,” he said. Panneton worked in a kitchen during his high school years and went on to be a carpenter, beekeeper and farmer before buying the country store.

“Of all the things I’ve done in my life, did I think I was going to be remembered for my donuts? No,” Panneton said. When the couple bought the store, Panneton took it upon himself to learn the science of donut making.

“I spent a lot of time making donuts back here and throwing them away until I came up with what I thought was the right recipe,” Panneton said.

Apple cider donuts made at the Chichester Country Store are sold in plain, cinnamon sugar, sugar, chocolate frosted, maple frosted (made with real maple syrup) and blueberry varieties. Peach cider donuts, made using peach cider from New Jersey, are also offered on occasion, as are pumpkin apple cider donuts.

“The recipe is a secret, you’re not getting the recipe,” Panneton said, as his wife began adding ingredients to the batter. Employees of the Country Store are asked to sign a nondisclosure form to ensure the recipe does not get out.

“It’s hard making donuts from scratch, it’s difficult to get the exact perfect consistent batter … it’s really easy to make bricks instead of donuts,” Panneton said.

Panneton uses cider from local farms that also double as his apple cider donut wholesale accounts. Chichester Country Store donuts are delivered almost daily to and sold at Mack’s Apples in Londonderry, Apple Hill Farm in Concord, DeVylder’s Farm in Wolfeboro and Lull Farm in both Hollis and Milford. They are also available through the store’s dairy home delivery service. Panneton said he hopes to one day have small stores carry the donuts year-round.

All apple cider donuts are packaged on the premises using a cellophane made of 100 percent wood fiber. The packaging can decompose in a composting bin in less than three weeks, Ron Panneton said.

“I’ve been trying to figure out how to put [the eco-friendly packaging information] on here without having too many stickers,” Ron Panneton said holding a six-pack of donuts. Donuts are also packaged in sleeves of two and eight and are available individually at the bakery, where you can also watch batches being fried in vegetable shortening, 50 donuts at a time.

Behind the scenes, the soft blade of a large electric mixer churns the batter, made using mostly local products, which is scraped off the sides periodically with the rubber spatula held by Robin Panneton. She then pours cider from a measuring cup into the mix. When the batter is ready it is shaped into donuts and left to sit for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the baking soda to absorb the moisture and produce bubbles, which Panneton said creates holes in the donuts so they do not come out like bricks. They are then dropped into the boiling vegetable shortening and laid out in a paper towel-lined box when they’re browned.

“They’re making Chichester famous,” Robin Panneton said of the store’s flagship product. “They’re making Chichester a destination.”

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