Rachel Wyman, a self-described “challenger of the status dough,” brings unique and hugely popular donuts to New Paltz.
Flour, water, yeast, and salt are the four essential ingredients of dough. They’re also the words tattooed on Rachel Wyman’s wrist. While this permanent body art expresses dedication to her craft, Wyman never considered baking as a career.
As a teen, Wyman loved the French language. She graduated high school early to spend her would-be senior year living in France, majored in French in college, and then taught high school French near her hometown of Chestertown, Maryland. But after a year, she had a change of heart and decided to pursue another childhood passion: baking.
The decision wasn’t completely random. As a little girl, Wyman spent a lot of time with her grandma, a special occasion cake baker who, says Wyman, had “a separate kitchen for her business before it was popular.” While she watched her grandma work her magic, Wyman would practice decorating a paper plate with buttercream, learning how to write her name in frosting before she could hold a pencil. She left teaching to enroll in the Culinary Institute of America, but Wyman didn’t focus on desserts. She chose bread. “It requires this long, slow process. You can’t rush any of the steps, but at the end, you’re rewarded with a lovely loaf. It also allowed me to be a constant part of the community, whereas cakes are more of a special occasion thing,” she says.
In the years following her 2005 graduation, Wyman developed bread recipes for major companies including Wegman’s and Whole Foods. All that testing resulted in a lot of bread that Wyman wanted to share, so in 2012 she opened the Montclair Bread Company in her family’s New Jersey hometown to sell loaves and other baked goods.
Wyman’s donuts are special—a combination of brioche and sourdough inspired by the sugar-dusted, fried brioche pastries she discovered while living in France.
That same year, Wyman was gifted a copper pot from a friend. Since copper heats exceptionally well, it’s ideal for frying. One day Wyman used the pot to make donuts for her staff and sold the leftovers to customers— everyone loved them. “They took off and became a permanent Sunday offering,” she says.
Wyman’s donuts are special—a combination of brioche and sourdough inspired by the sugar-dusted, fried brioche pastries she discovered while living in France. As word spread, Wyman attracted the attention of a Food Network producer and landed a spot competing on the network’s 2014 “Donut Showdown.” She won the $10,000 first-place award for her Mexican-inspired tres leches brioche donut. The win, no surprise, boosted popularity for her donuts—and as lines of customers stretched into the street Wyman decided to sell them daily.
When Covid hit, Wyman and her family began spending weekends in New Paltz to escape their urban neighborhood, where she indulged in her love of running and rock climbing and wrote her cookbook, Will Run for Doughnuts. She also treated her new Valley friends to sweets from her Jersey bakery and in classic small-town fashion, word (and demand) spread like wildfire. By 2021, Wyman had a booth at the weekly New Paltz Open Air Market, selling under the moniker Gunkin’ Doughnuts, named after the surrounding Shawangunk Ridge. One thing led to another, and by year’s end Wyman not only owned a house in town, she secured a space on Main Street to set up shop.
Last May, Wyman consolidated Gunkin’ and Montclair Bread and renamed both businesses Rabble Rise Doughnuts (Wyman’s staff describes her as a rabble-rouser). The open-concept space allows customers to watch the donut-making process while waiting in line. Daily offerings include chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry sprinkles, simple glazed, and tri-jam brioche donuts, plus vegan chocolate, and maple sourdough. There are additional specials every month that feature seasonal fruits, holiday flavors, or long-time favorites from the Montclair location such as maple bacon, and the winning tres leches. If we’ve convinced you to try this sweet spot, get there by 8 a.m. Thursday through Sunday; Rabble Rise sells upwards of 2,000 donuts a week and often sells out before they close at 2 p.m.
For more information visit rabblerise.com.