Great Doughnut Debate
blog by S.J. Velasquez • October 23, 2012 @ 9:00am
It’s doughnut season, and we’re celebrating that special time of year pretty hard at Buffalo.com headquarters. We’re practically swimming in Timbits and Munchkins over here.
But there’s constant bickering among us regarding the qualities of a fine doughnut. Some prefer light and airy; others want heavy, sugary, cream-filled concoctions. Then, there are those of us who prefer Tim Hortons and the others who run on Dunkin’. After much squabbling, we decided to turn our conversation into a bigger discussion, and the Great Doughnut Debate was born.
The Great Doughnut Debate, essentially, ended up being a conversation about personal tastes and unique qualities of certain bakeries’ doughnuts. Because each of us could already identify Timmies and Dunkin’ doughnuts in our sleep, we opted to look at—and eat!—only locally crafted fry cakes.
Rule No. 1: Limit our debate to only those doughnuts made in the city limits.
Rule No. 2: No doughnut chains or grocery store bakeries.
With those two rules in place, Ben, Kat, Katie and I tested doughnuts from four local shops: Paula’s Donuts, Donut Kraze, Mazurek’s Bakery and Famous Doughnuts. We carefully tasted a variety of fried delights from each of the shops, pointing out similarities and differences. Here’s our doughnut breakdown:
3043 Main St., Buffalo
Cost per half-dozen: $4.50
Katie went to Famous Doughnuts, 3043 Main St. in Buffalo, to pick up a half-dozen assorted doughnuts. To her—and our subsequent—dismay, Famous only had one kind of doughnut available for purchase when she arrived. Bummed but not deterred, Katie bought two of the raspberry jelly-filled, glaze-topped doughnuts.
Ben described the doughnut as “cakey and sweet, but not painfully sweet”—a delicate balance, indeed. I tasted something special in the dough. It had a sourdough flavor to it that made it especially memorable. So often, the filling is the overwhelming star of the doughnut show, but a unique flavor to the dough itself is key, in my opinion.
380 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo
Cost per half-dozen: $4.99
Our half-dozen included: peanut stick, red velvet, boston cream, apple fritter, glazed, powdered jelly
Everyone in The Buffalo News building is fully aware that Paula’s Donuts are undeniablly delicious. What we didn’t realize is how heavy and hardy those doughnuts are compared to others’ doughnuts of similar size.
To me, the doughnuts felt like fat litte footballs of awesome in my hands. Kat noted that the peanut stick alone could feed a family of four.
Katie, a doughnut fiend with doughnut taste similar to my own, said that the Boston cream doughnut was among the best she’d ever eaten—and trust me, she’s no doughnut newbie.
Kat noted that she prefers a lighter doughnut, so Paula’s wasn’t exactly her bag. But Katie and I disagreed—we like Paula’s because each doughnut is substantial. Eating a doughnut from Paula is having a meal. It’s no snack by any means.
Paula’s red velvet cake doughnut, in my opinion, is out of this world. Its flavor is unique, but not bizarre. It’s the perfect pick to go with a cup of coffee. I will dream about that doughnut for weeks.
406 Dingens St., Buffalo
Cost per half-dozen: $4.99
Our half-dozen included: peanut butter and jelly, apple spice, angel cream, coconut-pineapple, glazed, powdered jelly
Formerly the last Dickie’s Donuts in all of Western New York, Donut Kraze offers a wide array of classic doughnuts and kookier concoctions.
The apple spice doughnut, Kat said, tasted just like an apple pie. To me, it tasted like a jelly-filled apple fritter, so I wasn’t completely surprised by the flavor or texture.
We tried a few wackier varieties, including peanut butter and jelly, and pineapple and coconut. As much as we loved the creativity, the innovative flavors weren’t our favorites. We did like the classics, though. Kat enjoyed the “melt-in-your-mouth” glazed doughnut, and Ben was very fond of the cream-filled doughnut, though he admitted that it tasted more like a Boston cream than an angel cream.
543 South Park Ave., Buffalo
Cost per half-dozen: $3.75
Our half-dozen included: strawberry paczki, glazed with sprinkle, chocolate-covered cream-filled, peanut stick, regular glazed, powdered jelly
Mazurek’s doughnuts are much different from the typical doughnut found in bakeries these days. The old-school delights are smaller in size, and filling isn’t pumped into an opening. Instead, the doughnut is cut in half, and filling is spread inside.
We all agreed that Mazurek’s doughnuts were fresh, chewy and not overly sweet. The strawberry jelly was tangy and flavorful. Ben T., who appreciates a cream-filled doughnut, said that his was sweet but not intensely sugary.
Kat, a fan of the glazed doughnuts, raved about Mazurek’s classic glazed doughnut.
Mazurek’s doughnuts, in general, looked like they’d been fried a little longer, giving them a crustier outside and chewy consistency.
Also good to note: Mazurek’s is all about tradition—so much so that the bakery offers paczki, a Polish doughnut mostly available before the Lenten season begins. Mazurek’s sells paczki, a round jelly-filled doughnut, all through the year.
Buffalo.com staff picks
Interestingly, our favorite doughnuts from the day were truly varied. Here’s the list of our personal picks:
Ben: Donut Kraze’s angel cream / Mazurek’s strawberry jelly
Kat: Mazurek’s glazed
Katie: Paula’s red velvet / Paula’s Boston cream
S.J.: Paula’s red velvet / Mazurek’s strawberry paczki