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Great Doughnut Debate

blog by S.J. Velasquez  • 

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:

Famous Doughnuts

3043 Main St., Buffalo
Cost per half-dozen: $4.50
famous doughnuts

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.

Paula’s Donuts

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
Paula's Donuts - great doughnut debate

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.

Donut Kraze

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
Donut Kraze- great doughnut debate

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.

Mazurek’s Bakery

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 - great doughnut debate

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

TAGGED: bakery, donut kraze, donuts, doughnuts, dunkin' donuts, fall foods, famous doughnuts, mazurek's bakery, paula's donuts, tim hortons

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  1. Derik Porth October 23, 2012 @ 10:17am

    Paula’s will always have a special place in my mind when if comes to doughnuts in Buffalo, NY. They are absolutely fabulous every time. I don’t even like doughnuts that much, however you have to try them! I tell all my friends to think of a doughnut variety they don’t like and one they do, then go to paula s and order both (or more) and you will find every doughnut is amazing!

    Derik Porth's avatar
  2. S.J. Velasquez October 23, 2012 @ 11:58am

    Hey, Derik -

    Paula’s Donuts are amazing—unlike any other doughnut. I also love doughnuts from the cider mill, though we didn’t include those doughnuts in the debate because the mill is in the suburbs, and we limited our search to the city.

    S.J. Velasquez's avatar
  3. Amy Lynn October 23, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    Paula’s Donuts are my absolute favorite - I love the peanut butter kind. But you’re right - they’re filling. I have tried to eat them as a snack and end up ruining my dinner. I’ve learned my lesson and now only get one doughnut instead of two (or a dozen).

  4. Erin Kelly October 23, 2012 @ 2:54pm

    Paula’s makes the only donut that’s big enough to share. And it’s not just big, it’s delicious enough so that a half is enough,

    Erin Kelly's avatar