The Prince of Paczki



“When it comes to paczki, the question you have to ask yourself is, ‘Is it worth the calories?’ ” cookbook author Annabel Cohen says moments before she bites — with obvious pleasure — into one of the rich, doughnut-like treats.

Every year, Detroiters answer Cohen’s question with a resounding “yes” by lining up at bakeries the morning before Ash Wednesday — Fat Tuesday is Feb. 16 this year — to get their hands on a box of jelly- or cream-filled paczki (pronounced punch-key). The deep-fried, traditionally Polish confections deliver up to 450 calories apiece, making them a fitting indulgence for a day dubbed “Fat.”

So who makes the best paczki? We invited three tasters to compromise their waistlines by sampling paczki (in Polish, paczki is the plural of paczek) from five bakeries.

Doug Kolly, a defense attorney who got his start eating homemade paczki in his grandmother’s basement, joined Cohen and yours truly in the quest for the best.

The assignment called for hard work and sacrifice — at least three belt holes were victimized in the process — but we persevered and crowned a paczki king. The winner, by unanimous decision, was New Polka Bakery in Hamtramck, whose paczki were impeccable spheres of glazed dough — dense and fluffy at once.

“It’s just perfect resistance to the bite,” Kolly pronounced as he dabbed a bit of wayward raspberry filling from his beard.

And while New Polka won the overall title, it was agreed that the raspberry filling of New Palace Bakery, another Hamtown favorite, scored slightly higher than its competitors. The panel concluded that a combination of New Palace filling, which contained seeds in its raspberry jam, as well as balanced tartness, and New Polka dough would have resulted in the perfect paczek.

Paczki Buffet:

// Dutch Girl Donuts, 19000 Woodward, Detroit; 313-368-3020
// New Deluxe Bakery, 11920 Conant, Hamtramck; 313-892-8165
// New Palace Bakery, 9833 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck; 313-875-1334
// New Polka Bakery, 9834 Conant, Hamtramck; 313-873-7959
// West Warren Bakery, 15708 Warren, Detroit; 313-584-2610

Archive »Related Content

Picnics Plus

Rose’s Fine Food stakes out a reclaimed diner near Belle Isle.

Déjà Food

Exotic Chinese food, circa 1960

Food Fest

Fall Flavor Weekends focus on farm-to-table fare

The Art of Restoration

A dedicated group of like-minded Detroiters are transforming an Old Redford neighborhood from blighted to bustling.

Good Reads

Editor Steve Wilke sums up some of his favorite books of the month.

Most Popular

  1. 2014 Best Dressed List
    They come from all walks of life — from automotive, hospitality, and health to politics and...
  2. Rockford Brewing Company Brewery Profile
    Embracing the outdoors and the creative spirit, Rockford Brewing Company works to promote a...
  3. Staying Power
    Joe Vicari’s Andiamo Italia restaurant group celebrates its 25th anniversary
  4. Hour Detroit's Best Dressed Celebration 2014 Video Invitation
  5. All That Jazz
    A full-swing resurgence is drawing on Detroit’s rich music culture
  6. Ludington Area Beer Scene
    Ludington, Michigan represents the Michigan Craft Beer Scene
  7. Takashi, Take Two
    Slurping Turtle offers hip takes on traditional Japanese dishes.
  8. Taking Root
    Growth is slow but steady for family-owned, Michigan-centric The Granola Tree
  9. Portrait of a Collector
    Robert Hudson Tannahill’s bequest left the DIA a priceless visual legacy
  10. It's About Family
    Downtown Plymouth’s Nico & Vali is a slice of Italiana — with some twists