Fat Tuesday Gives Metro Detroit a Regional Treat

By: Karen Dybis | February 12, 2021

Photo Courtesy of Cornwall Bakery.

Paczki is everything that the Midwest loves to eat; fluffy dough, chock full of sweet filling and topped with sugary icing. It is the ideal food to eat on a day known as “Fat Tuesday” and 24 hours before some people start 40 days of fasting. 

This year, lining up outside your favorite bakery that makes an array of paczki likely won’t be possible. Ordering ahead has become the norm, and you likely will want to do that anyway as the demand for these treats are likely to be high given our demand for comfort foods right now. 

Most Metro Detroit bakeries will offer a few kinds of paczki, traditionally the raspberry or custard filled. Some creative types are adding new flavors this year to gain attention and get customers in their doors to grab a dozen or even more of these delightful donut-like desserts. Locally, you likely won’t find the trendier stuff – think lavender or sriracha flavors – but you will find just about every kind of fruit filling or cannoli crème. 

What makes paczki great is the nostalgia that comes with this particular kind of sweet, said Freeman Gunnell, owner of Grosse Pointe Park’s Cornwall Bakery. You can try to eat just one for breakfast, but you’ll likely try a couple before the day is done. 

“Paczki is one of the biggest traditions that I can really relate to from my childhood. It’s a great thing to have for this area,” Gunnell said. 

Cornwall Bakery is a European style bakery that serves artisan breads, high-end treats and more. The bakery also is known for its specialty coffees, wedding cakes and specialty cakes. Gunnell offers classes, pop-up dinners and food-focused trips as part of work here, making sure his local community and fellow chefs can try all of his food stylings, which go way beyond dessert. 

Gunnell said Cornwall Bakery started making paczki about three years ago, mostly for customers who asked for these “Fat Tuesday” specialties. People who came in that day were willing to buy more, so they started to create a regular order for Paczki Day. 

What makes this year more challenging, even beyond coronavirus and its impact on small businesses, is that Valentine’s Day is just two days apart from Paczki Day this year. That’s a storm of activity that will put any bakery into overdrive, Gunnell said. But he knows that his customers love to indulge in these calorie-heavy doughballs, so he’s willing with his staff to put in the time to have a great selection. 

This year, Cornwall will have its standard flavors, which are apple, lemon, cherry, blueberry, strawberry, raspberry and custard. Its custom flavors, which change each year, include white-chocolate mousse, chocolate mousse, prune, cannoli, butterscotch and lemon curd. 

“We’re sticking with what works this year,” Gunnell said, respecting how orders and appetites might have changed in 2021. However, Gunnell said they plan to experiment with flavors even more in 2022 and, hopefully, years going forward as staffing and demand allows. 

Here are some other Metro Detroit bakeries and restaurants that will offer paczki as part of their baked goods on Fat Tuesday. 

Apple Fritter Doughnut Shop

Ferndale residents know the secret goodness for this local doughnut expert. After all, the store didn’t get the reputation for being the home of the Fritterman for no reason. Selection will vary this year so come in early to get your paczki.

 

Rose’s Fine Food

In a special collaboration with Folk Detroit, Rose’s Fine Food will have boatloads of paczki available for foodie fans. Every year, they look forward to giving people something different for pre-order as well as pick-up. But it is recommended to show up when doors open because they sell out quickly. 

Polish Cultural Center

Imagine a line of cars around the block picking up every kind of paczki and Polish food available. That’s the plan for Fat Tuesday, which will give people shopping the line a chance to buy a whole dinner alongside desserts including paczki. 

New Palace Bakery

This Hamtramck bakery has leveled up when it comes to paczki. The pastry is light and airy yet incredibly satisfying. It doesn’t weigh you down or make you regret eating the whole box. Plus, the fillings are delicate and just the right amount. 

Yellow Light

Detroit’s newest Eastside favorite bakery partnered with its good friends at Almont Baking Company for paczki day. This business collaboration with Yellow Light is likely to become a favorite for everyone who cruises by on Fat Tuesday. Flavor fillings will be: apple, custard, chocolate custard, lemon, raspberry, and apricot. Supplies are limited so get them while they last.